Tim Johnson, editor
April 25, 2004
According to the Rules
I can dunk a basketball. No, really. On a regulation goal with a regulation basketball, I can consistently dunk a basketball&ldots;as long as I have my stepladder! Unfortunately, most basketball leagues won't allow my stepladder. I could easily score 100 points per game, but none of the points would count.
The Bible says that, "if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." (2 Timothy 2:5).
So much is being done in the name of Christ nowadays that seems impressive at first glance, but it is not being accomplished "according to the rules."
Church growth that is a result of church recreation programs, or unrestricted benevolence, or soft preaching, does not count anymore than scoring 100 points in basketball by dunking on a stepladder. We know of a denominational group nearby that has grown in the last 10 years from a handful of members meeting in a trailer to a membership of several hundred that meets in a sprawling complex of brick buildings. To accomplish this growth they've built a fellowship hall, gymnasium, playground and recently an outdoor water fountain in front of their building! Sorry, but it doesn't count. The RULES by which we are to attract and bring people to the Lord were completely ignored. Those rules include living lives that are examples of righteousness (Matthew 5; 1 Peter 2:12) and preaching and teaching the UNADULTERATED word of God. "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God&ldots;" (2 Corinthians 2:17). There is no rule that allows for attracting people to Christ by carnal enticements!
At times, we may be tempted to envy the apparent success of denominations or liberal churches that do not mind ignoring the rules. My friends, "Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day" (Proverbs 23:17). In the end, all their points won't count. It's harder to score when you play by the rules, but the victory crown will only be given to those who do so.
by Steve Klein
According to a humorous television commercial, one of the first signs of termite infection in your home is that "everything looks perfectly normal." It is their way of convincing us that a lot of damage can be done before you even notice it. The ad might serve to remind us of problems that can occur in our spiritual house if we do not take protective measures. The very foundation can be destroyed while everything on the outside seems to be normal by the standards of our day. When our lives are comfortably blended into the society we live in, when there is nothing unusual about our moral or religious principles, when our priorities are the same as the great majority of our neighbors, then things are dangerously "normal." The problem is that ''normal'' is a term that is determined by man's standards, and though measuring up to it may provide a degree of comfort here, it falls far short when it comes to laying up treasures in heaven.
Paul warned the Corinthians of some who "measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding." (2 Cor. 10:12.) It is God's yardstick that matters, not that of the "main-stream of society." God has always required His people to be separate (Isa. 52:11; 2 Cor. 6:17 - 7:1) not physically withdrawn, but distinct in conversation and conduct, not fashioned according to the world. (Rom. 12:1,2.) It is a sobering Biblical truth that few will be saved; the majority will enter the broad way that leads to destruction. (Matt. 7: 13, 14.) It is strange, then, that we should be satisfied with attaining a status accepted by society. What value is it, if we lose our souls?
Friend, if your life seems "normal" enough by man's standards, it may be that your spiritual house is caving in. It will not be shored up by man's money or man's tools, but by the Word which framed the worlds. (Heb. 11:3.) The answer is some hon-est, objective study of it, for it is the standard which will judge us. (John 12:48.)
by Larry Walker
A storm swept the ocean off the coast of Scotland. Far out in the black trough of the angry waters a ship had gone to pieces. The lifeboat set out from the shore in the face of what seemed al-most certain disaster, but it came back with all the ship's crew except one. To have taken another in would have meant the sinking of the boat. As they came to shore the leader said, "There's another man! We need volunteers for his rescue, these men are exhausted."
Among those stepping forward was a fine young Scotchman in the very prime of his life. His white-haired Mother came and put her arms around him and said, "Don't go, John, your father perished in a storm at sea. You know that just last year your brother, Bill, went to sea and never came back, and I guess he, too, must have gone down. John, you are the only one left and if you should per-ish what would I do? Don't go, John; your Mother begs you to stay."
He took her arms from about His neck and said: "Mother, I must go; a man is in peril and I would feel like a coward not to go. God will take care of us."
He kissed her cheek and sprang into the boat. Every minute the fury of the storm increased. The elements seemed to vie with each other to see which could do the worst. Down into the trough and up over the waves they went. A whole hour they were gone, and finally, in dim outline they were seen beating their way back. As -they came within hailing distance someone from the shore cried, "Have you found the man?" And standing in the bow of the boat John shouted back, "Yes, we've saved him, and tell my dear old Mother it's brother Bill."