Monday, March 20, 2017

“Gone with the Wind” – More than Just a Movie



It was sensational. It was controversial. It was historic. In 1939 the film “Gone with the Wind” crossed a major line in the movie industry, provoking excitement and criticism. The producers also drew huge profits by doing so, as they intended. Their shocking move was immensely successful, at least from an economic point of view.

What was it? Simply this. The movie included the word “damn,” in the very famous last line. Rhett said to Scarlett, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a _____.”

Prior to the film's release, censors objected to the use of the word in the film. The word had been prohibited by the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code. Yes, prohibited! Why? Well, to those with traditional values and religious convictions, to “damn” a person was to wish that person condemned to hell. That is how the word originated. People who feared God, and believed in the reality of hell, did not use the word in polite speech. They would shudder if they heard someone else say it.

But the risk paid off. True, the producers had ridiculed current social values and offended the consciences of many. But they likely anticipated a huge payoff, and they got it. They may have figured that the initial criticism would die down, and it did. Most people would pay to see the film anyway. After all, any customers who hesitated would hear how outstanding the film was as a whole. They would justify seeing the movie – overlooking what they found offensive – and they would buy their tickets. After all, they might ask, was it really that big of a deal after all?

The more I have thought about the explosive step that those producers took, the more I have realized what is going on in our declining culture.

In my years I have seen this "Wind" strategy used effectively many times. The movie industry, a major national retail chain, or another commercial interest decides to add something questionable, objectionable, or even outright immoral. Then these events seem to follow in order:

The instigator (movie company, merchant, etc.) proudly goes public, advertising its bold new move.

Initially, many with conservative values publicly object. They may refuse to support the agenda with their money, because it genuinely violates their consciences. They are also concerned about the potential damage to society that may result.

Then those who accept or embrace the change, or see it as rather harmless, accuse the conscientious conservatives of being self-righteous or of making much ado about nothing. “They are so strict and so judgmental!”

The instigator enjoys the publicity and the profits that it has generated.

The boundary line of acceptable practice moves farther left once more.

Those who have not moved with the shifting sand are then ridiculed and marginalized as bigots or fanatics. They are treated as a tiny majority and called the “religious right;” they are defined as being off-center, on the fringe. It is they, not the instigators of the new morality, who are the extremists. How dare they say that people should not support such changes with their money or their influence? How picky and mean can people be?

Those in search of bigger profits and more customers then look for the next controversial move that they can make to repeat the cycle on a grander scale. It may be disturbing. It may hurt marriages, families, children, and friends. But it will make money for sure. And, hey, people will get over it and even reward it.

In my generation I have seen this pattern used effectively to move many boundaries. These include the growing acceptance of premarital sexual relations, the promotion of adultery, the breakup of the traditional family, the use of rude, crude, disrespectful language, the open description of private body parts and functions, the weakening role of the male in the American family, social and gender engineering, abortion, and more. I have seen high standards lowered and seemingly eliminated. I have seen movie ratings like "PG-13" slide all over the place.

I fear that I will see the "Wind" pattern again, and again, and again. I am even more concerned for the generations that follow me.

The title itself, “Gone with the Wind,” was intended to describe a culture that was becoming a thing of the past. The life that Rhett and Scarlett had known would exist no longer. Ironically enough, we must ask ourselves in this post-Christian era, “Will the God-fearing, Bible-believing, people-loving culture that we have known become … ‘gone with the wind?’”

I am alarmed. I am ashamed. How have people with solid convictions – how have I myself – allowed such intrusions to occur? Where are the defensive linemen, who will plant ourselves and say, “Enough! You are not taking one more inch of this field!”

Join me in affirming what Scripture says:

Rom 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

"Gone with the Wind." It really is more than just a movie. It's a movement.



Friday, February 10, 2017

It's Easier - and Better - to Do Right


Dr. Bill Bagents is my very good friend, and he and I were colleagues and coworkers during our time working with Heritage Christian University and the Mars Hill church of Christ. I always appreciate his thoughtful writing, and I want to share this article he recently wrote.

IT’S EASIER - AND BETTER - TO DO RIGHT

It’s easier to do right than to wish that you had. Do you hear that statement as proverb, truism, or cliché? I lean toward truism, but the reason for that is elusive.

“It’s easier to do right than” makes a thought-provoking sentence starter. Consider these options and feel free to add your own:

It’s easier to do right than to deal with the consequences of a less noble choice. Think of lying King Saul in 1 Samuel 15 and the Amalekite in 2 Samuel 1.

It’s easier to do right than to face the guilt of letting God down. Think of David in Psalm 51 and Judas in Matthew 27.

It’s easier to do right than to try to explain why you didn’t. Think of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and Aaron in Exodus 32.

It’s easier to do right than to let yourself down. Think of Paul in Romans 7.

Maybe we should change the sentence starter and think further.

It’s better to do right than to miss the blessings that the right action will bring. Think of Abram vs. Lot in Genesis 13.

It’s better to do right than to let evil erode your character. Think of Cain in Genesis 4.

It’s better to do right than to give in to the status quo. Think Romans 12:1-2

It’s better to do right than to let your critics be right. Think of David and his brother in 1 Samuel 17:28-29.

It’s better to do right than to give the devil a foothold. Think of Ephesians 4:27.

It’s better to do right than to put your family in harm’s way. Think of Achan in Joshua 7.

It’s better to do right and rely on God to settle accounts. Think of Colossians 3:23-24.

It’s better to do right even if that puts your life in danger. Think of Daniel’s three friends in Daniel 3 and Daniel himself in Daniel 6.

It’s better to do right, even if it costs you your life. Think of Revelation 2:10, Hebrews 11:35-40, and John the Baptist in Matthew 14. Bluntly, it’s just always better to do right for the right reason to God’s glory, no matter what the immediate outcome.

- Bill Bagents


Friday, January 20, 2017

Books for Sale - Cory Collins



The books listed below are available for sale. The newest additions are at the top. I still have each book included here. These books may be picked up locally or shipped by USPS Media Mail. If shipped, the exact shipping cost will be added to the prices listed below. You may save on individual shipping by ordering more than one book at the same time.

To place an order or ask a question, please post a comment below, and include your name and email address. Your comment will come to me privately, and I will reply privately to your email. Your comment, name, and email address will not be published on this page or anywhere! I promise!

The Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts, Comfort Print Edition, 1996, pub. by Thomas Nelson
Includes reproducible maps and charts
Good condition
ISBN: 0-7852-1154-3
Retails for $25.00
Price: $8.00

The American Patriot's Bible
Like new
Retails for $44.99
Price: $18
ISBN-10: 141854891X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1418548919

Jesus and the Gospels, 2nd edition, by Craig L. Blomberg
Like new
Retails for $39.99
Price: $16
  • ISBN-10: 0805444823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805444827

Quickverse 10 Bible Software with Concordance, Atlas, Commentaries, and More
Includes KJV Bible; Strong's Concordance; Nave's Topical Bible; Standard Bible Dictionary; Standard Bible Atlas; Standard Lesson eCommentary; McGarvey on Matthew and Mark; Four-Fold Gospel; Acts of the Apostles; Jamieson, Faussett, Brown; Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans.
This is a DVD.
Price: $15

Everyone Communicates - Few Connect, by John C. Maxwell
Brand new
Retails for $25.99
Price: $10

Developing the Leader Within You, by John C. Maxwell
Like new. Three copies available.
Price: $8

The 360 Degree Leader (audio CDs and PowerPoint), by John C. Maxwell
Brand new
Price: $7

The Silencing of God: The Dismantling of America’s Christian Heritage, by Dave Miller
2008, 105 pages, hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-60063-018-7
Price: $5

A Commentary on the Minor Prophets (hardcover), by Homer Hailey
Price: $6

12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching (hardcover), by Wayne McDill, B & H Academic
ISBN: 978-0-8054-3297-8
Retail: $27.99
Price: $15

The Daily Bible in Chronological Order (paper), NIV text, notes by F. LaGard Smith
(2) copies
Price: $7 each or both for $12

The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (paper), by Everett Ferguson
ISBN: 978-0802841896
Price: $20

Original Commentary on Acts (hardcover), by J. W. McGarvey
Price: $10

Jesus Christ Today (Hebrews commentary) (paper), by Neil Lightfoot
Price: $8

South American Handbook 2015 (paper)
ISBN: 978-1910120026
Price: $7

What’s So Amazing About Grace? (hardcover), by Philip Yancey
Price: $8

The Good Life: Seeking Purpose, Meaning, and Truth in Your Life (hardcover), by Charles Colson and Harold Fickett
Price: $5

Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible (Hardcover)
Price: $5

An Introduction to the Old Testament (Hardcover) – 2004 (first edition), by Tremper Longman, Ray Dillard 
Price: $8

Happiness Is a Choice (paper), by Frank B. Minirth and Paul D. Meier
Price: $3

Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (hardcover) (Volumes 1 and 3 only), by James Montgomery Boice
Price: $15 each or both for $25

Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (hardcover), by James Montgomery Boice
Price: $8

The Sermon on the Mount, by James Montgomery Boice
Price: $10

Philippians: An Expositional Commentary, by James Montgomery Boice
Paperback
Price: $8

The Minor Prophets (2 Volume Set), by James Montgomery Boice
ISBN-10: 0801066484
ISBN-13: 978-0801066481
Price: $25

The Expositor's Bible Commentary, by Frank E. Gaebelein, editor (hardback): Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel
Price: $10

The Expositor's Bible Commentary, by Frank E. Gaebelein, editor (hardback) (Volume 9): John and Acts
ISBN 0-310-36510-4
Price: $10

Hurlbut's Story of the Bible, Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
ISBN 0-310-26520-7
Price: $20

1 & 2 Kings, by Jesse C. Long, The College Press NIV Commentary
ISBN 0-89900-882-8
Price: $20

Isaiah Vol. 1, by Terry Briley, The College Press NIV Commentary
ISBN 0-89900-890-9
Price: $20

James & Jude, by Gary Holloway, The College Press NIV Commentary
ISBN 0-89900-638-8
Price: $20

Acts, by Dennis Gaertner, The College Press NIV Commentary
ISBN 0-89900-626-4
Price: $20

Knowing God, by J. I. Packer
ISBN 0-87784-770-3
Price: $5

Joy that Lasts, by Gary Smalley with Al Janssen
ISBN 0-310-46290-8
Price: $2

Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, by Charles R. Swindoll
ISBN 0-8499-0564-8
Price: $5

Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You, by Harvey Mackay (hardcover)
Price: $5





Monday, November 21, 2016

Are You a Christian? Are You Saved? Are You SURE?


If you died today, would you go to be with God?

Let’s ask some questions and read God’s own answers in the Bible.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version.

What should you hear first?

Romans 1:16 … the gospel [good news about Jesus Christ] is God’s power for salvation …

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For what I received I passed on to you first of all: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

Why do you need to be saved?

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

What is sin?

Mark 7:21-22 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 

What will happen to unforgiven sinners?

2 Thessalonians 1:9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power …

Matt 13:42 … [they will] throw them into the fiery furnace.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

What has Jesus Christ done for you? Why?

Romans 5:6-10 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What must you do to receive God’s free gift?

You must hear this good news.

Romans 10:14  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

You must believe this good news.

John 8:24  I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.

Acts 16:30-31 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

You must be convicted of the sin in your life.

Acts 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

You must repent of (surrender and renounce) your sins.

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

You must confess Christ before others.

Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Matthew 16:15-16 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

You must be baptized (immersed in water) for the forgiveness of your sins.

Acts 2:38 (see above).

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Romans 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 through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Mark 16:15-16  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 22:16  And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

What happens then?

God saves you.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

You become a Christian, a disciple.

Acts 11:26 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

1 Peter 4:16  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

You become a child of God.

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ …

God forgives your sins.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

God gives you the gift of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:16  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

God adds you to His church.

Acts 2:41, 47 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day … And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

You go on your way rejoicing.

Acts 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

What must you do from that time forward?

You serve Him faithfully, until He comes.

1 John 1:7 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 cleanses us from all sin.

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Hebrews 10:25 … not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Revelation 2:10 Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

What are you waiting for?

How can I help?



Friday, October 14, 2016

How I Will Vote and Why

If you wish to comment on this post, please email your response to CoryBlogVote@outlook.com, with your full name, so that I may reply. Thanks.

First let me state a couple of disclaimers. For one, I am presenting here my own personal views, which do not necessarily represent any particular group, church, or party. For another, I respect the right and responsibility of each individual to vote as he or she chooses. However, I have been asked what I will do in this election, and I feel responsible to do so.

I am repulsed and disgusted by both candidates at the “top” of their respective major tickets. I cannot support the morality or character of either one. I cannot put a sign in my yard or a bumper sticker on my car. I believe that the fear of God, morality, honesty, respect, integrity, humility, and transparency are indispensable qualities which our leaders must possess. These essential traits are noticeably absent. Our political process has degraded so far in this “race to the gutter” that it makes me weep for our great nation.

Beyond my shock over these two candidates is an even greater sorrow. I am stunned by our people! I am utterly amazed that the citizens of America have produced, supported, and promoted these individuals. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are not the primary problem; they are the product of the primary problem. They are the symptoms, not the illness. Our fellow Americans have rejected biblical values and honorable candidates. The majority has rejected more than a few candidates who were honorable, moral, and reputable. Instead, character and conduct no longer seem to matter to tens of millions. We as a people are getting what we deserve, what we have chosen.

Arrogance. Narcissism. Profanity. Lewd, lustful language. Degrading comments against women and minorities. Racism. Deception. Late-night, self-centered “tweets.” Some tax returns not made public. CEO-type, celebrity-type pronouncements. Absolutely awful. Then there is alleged criminal behavior. An illegal private email server. Deleted classified emails. Possible major health challenges. The wife of a past President, whose immoral behavior disgraced the office and the nation … the same wife who allegedly went out to silence and shame her husband’s victims … the same woman now innocently taking up for such women as her opponent is accused of similar behavior. Again, absolutely awful. A news media machine out of control, with not even a pretense of objectivity or fairness. It’s all just wrong. 

Who could ever try to justify any of it? The argument seems to be, “Vote for me, because my opponent is even worse than I am!” Whichever candidate can make the other look the worst stands to win.

Here’s another thing. Are these two major parties unable to produce honorable, high-character, law-abiding candidates? Can they not vet prospects and eliminate those with alleged criminal records, poor political performance, and questionable morality?

So will I vote? I certainly will! For whom?

Can I find any other criteria for voting, since so much of this is so disgusting? Some will choose either not to vote or to vote for a third option. I respect each choice.

Here is what I will do.

Since I cannot conscientiously support the “top” of either ticket, I have decided to vote for the vice-presidential candidate who would advise the President and step in if necessary. This is an easy choice for me, when I consider Mr. Pence with his faith and values. Mr. Pence is vocal in expressing his faith, in supporting unborn human life, and in upholding marriage and gender as God designed them. In the VP debate he called himself a Christian, named Jesus Christ, and quoted the Bible directly.

Since I cannot vote for the person, I will vote for the platform. When I compare the two parties’ platforms, as I did via the link below, my choice becomes clear. The topics that are compared include Human Life, Planned Parenthood, Judges, Religious Liberty, Education / School Choice, Sex Education, Obamacare, Marriage, Biomedical Research, and Iran. Take a look for yourself. Please.


Does the platform comparison help you? It helped me. It seems to me that the one choice is a far better platform, a conservative one, with a candidate who will hopefully uphold it and a party that will hopefully stick with it. I realize that the candidate and / or the party may not follow through to the extent that I would wish, but the other platform is not an option for me. It is far worse, based on a clearly liberal agenda, with a candidate that I am convinced will take the country farther down that path.

I will vote for a Constitution-based Supreme Court. The next President will appoint new Justices who will be on the bench for decades to come. An activist Court will mean a further departure from biblical truth. Such a Court has already assumed absolute power by redefining marriage in defiance of God’s created order. Then the Attorney General tried to take over the nation’s restrooms, insisting that biological males had the right to enter female facilities. Let’s wake up! It’s later than many of us may realize! When the time comes that Constitution-based Justices are outnumbered, the Court will have absolute power to redefine every aspect of morality in the name of “choice,” “political correctness,” etc.

I will vote for religious freedom and freedom of speech. Both have been eroding in the past seven years and are now hanging by a thread.

I will vote for the right of preachers, religious leaders, and churches to declare God’s truth no matter how “political” it may seem. No church should be threatened with the loss of its tax-exempt status as a result of its boldness in political matters. I will vote for the “Johnson Amendment” to be repealed, with its attempt to silence churches.

I will vote for the right to define sin as the Bible does (regarding homosexual conduct, for example). I will vote for the right to practice the Christian religion without fear of recrimination. I will vote against the further growth of atheism, secular humanism, and Darwinian evolutionary belief.

I will vote for male-female marriage and the family as God intended it to be. The home is the primary building block of a stable society. To me it is beyond doubt that our culture is suffering as a direct consequence of deliberate attacks against the traditional family.

I will vote for the protection of unborn human life. Mrs. Clinton has said publicly that the unborn person has no constitutional rights. (How can she call it a “person” and deny it the right to life, which our Constitution guarantees?)


I will vote against the funding of Planned Parenthood, whose destruction of human life is unspeakable.

I will vote for parents and local leaders, not a federal bureaucracy, to oversee our children’s education.

I will vote for individual freedom and responsibility.

I will vote against socialism. I do not believe that U.S. taxpayers can finance “free” services that we cannot afford, such as college education for all. In the past two terms socialist programs have expanded, and our nation is on the brink of financial disaster. We simply cannot keep spending money that we do not have.

I will vote for truly “affordable” health care. The “Affordable Care Act” is exactly the opposite for many Americans. Remember the President’s oft-repeated promises? “You can keep your plan and keep your doctor. The typical family will save $2500 per year.” It turned out that none of that was true. Many of us have seen our premiums climb 40% or more, with our deductibles and copays increased significantly. My own health plan will not be available in 2017, because the company – one of many – cannot afford the “Affordable” Care Act. I do not believe that citizens should be guaranteed health insurance as a “right,” any more than life insurance or burial insurance. I do not believe that young, healthy people should be forced to buy insurance or else be penalized by the federal government. There has to be a better way! Even Bill Clinton called the ACA "crazy."


I will vote for the poor. I love the poor! We as a nation must do better to care for our poor. After the past seven years, the poor are worse off than they were before. I will vote for whatever may help the poor to reverse the poverty cycle, increase independence and self-reliance, and enjoy greater economic prosperity. Perhaps lower taxes could enable businesses to create more jobs and employ those who are currently out of work. That could help the poor, stimulate the economy, and benefit all who are involved. According to the 2012 Census information cited below, 35.4% of all the people in this country were receiving federal welfare benefits, as of the fourth quarter of that year. This information is taken from the following sources:

http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/terence-p-jeffrey/354-percent-109631000-welfare
http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sipp/publications/tables/hsehld-char.html

I will vote against increasing debt. During the last seven years our nation’s debt has almost doubled, to a staggering $19 trillion. Yes, trillion. Either we will pay that debt, or our children will, or our nation’s economy will collapse.

I will vote for human rights in all the nations with whom we do business. We simply must not reward nations that mistreat their own people.

I will vote against ISIS, against terrorism, and against nations like Iran developing nuclear warheads. In the past two terms, we have greatly declined in these area.

I will vote against four more years of our current national leadership. In the recent past, under this administration, we have declined in many areas and have lost much of the respect we once enjoyed.

I will vote for American independence as a sovereign nation. I will vote against “open borders.” I will vote against “pay for play” and money to nations that sponsor terrorism.

I will vote against the mainstream, liberal media. I am sick of the media choosing a liberal candidate and throwing their collective weight behind that person. I am sick of so-called “journalists” unabashedly attacking and entrapping people that they don’t like, while giving their favored candidate a pass. There is something deep within me that does not want such people to get their way.

Once again, these are my thoughts.

May America bless God, and may God bless America!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Tree Down, the Seed Still Alive!


The Church after Apostasy – God’s Seed was Still Alive!

If you find this message helpful, please share it with others by telling them about this blog.

This sermon may be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi72yfuLVcE

Reading: Mark 4:26-32

In previous lessons we have surveyed the church’s apostasy, in which the leaders abandoned New Testament teaching in favor of man-made traditions and rules. Did that departure mean the death of authentic Christianity? Or did the true faith, like seeds in the ground, remain alive but dormant? Would biblical teaching ever resurface and grow again? Thankfully, the answer is yes, as men of courage began to study, question, challenge, and teach. May we do the same!

Note: These are my sermon notes, which I have expanded to present here. As a result, this post is not entirely written in full sentences.

Credits: Much of this material is taken from these sources:

The Cause We Plead: A Story of the Restoration Movement, by J. M. Powell, 20th Century Christian, 1987. Used extensively here, sometimes quoted verbatim.

Eerdmans Handbook to the History of Christianity, 1977.

The Secretly-Growing Seed

Luke 8:13 “The seed is the word of God.”

Jas 1:21 “Receive the word implanted …”

1 Pet 1:22-25 “born again: imperishable seed”

What happened to the seed?

Did Christianity die as a result of the apostasy?

When church leaders rejected truth in favor of their own traditions, rules, and creeds …

When people blindly followed them …

Did the seed die – or go dormant underground?

Mark 4:26-32 (NASB95)

26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” 30 And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”

Once the seed was planted, the farmer could be confident that it would grow, no matter what he did or did not do. Why? Because the life was in the seed. When Jesus said, “The soil produces crops by itself,” the phrase “by itself” reneders the Greek, automate, from which we get the word “automatically.”

In his book, Age of the Reformation, pp. 34-35, Preserved Smith says: “In all ages Christendom has not lacked minds independent enough to cut away what they considered corrupt or rotten in ecclesiastical teaching and life.”

AD 1054 – The Great Schism – Eastern Orthodox and Western Roman Catholic

The Pope excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople and “his churches” when they refused to acknowledge the Pope’s claim to be the head of the universal or “Catholic” church.

Eastern Orthodox Church –

Required marriage of church leaders.

Rejected sprinkling; immersed infants.

Rejected statues as “graven images;” used icons or religious pictures.

Rejected instrumental music.

As time went on, individuals and groups studied the Bible and saw stark contrasts between its teachings and the doctrines and traditions of the current religious authorities.

We would not endorse everything that these people taught or practiced. We certainly would not follow them or wear their names. We are making one simple point:

The seed was still alive!

Peter Waldo in France (c. 1140 – c. 1205)

Wealthy clothing merchant in Lyons, France.

Sold his possessions and used the proceeds to give the Bible to the people in their vernacular. He had translations made from the Latin New Testament. (Note: Gutenberg's printing press would not be invented until AD 1440. These Bible copies were written out by hand.)

Formed an order of evangelists who gained many followers in central and southern France.

Followers were numerous and were called Waldenses or Waldensians.

They sold their possessions and lived lives of poverty. Their lifestyle was a striking contrast to the wealth, worldliness, and laxity of the established church and its leaders.

Slogans:

“Everyone ought to believe, for the gospel has spoken.”

“Scripture speaks, and we ought to believe.”

“Whatever is not enjoined in Scripture must be rejected.”

“The Bible is the only safe guide in religion.”

They called for the church to return to the pure teaching of Scripture.

They rejected masses and prayers for the dead.

They denied purgatory as unbiblical.

They defended “lay preaching.” They believed that they could preach the Word of God without the permission or approval of the Catholic Church. They preached with a missionary emphasis, in the local language, with a strong New Testament emphasis.

They rejected the intermediary role of the clergy.

They rejected all Catholic feast-days, festivals, and prayers, with a couple of exceptions.

They refused to take oaths, since they said the Bible prohibited such.

Around AD 1181, the Archbishop of Lyons prohibited their scriptural preaching. The Waldensians responded by preaching even more zealously.

They were violently opposed and bitterly persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. In AD 1184 at Verona, Pope Lucius III excommunicated the Waldensians and other similar groups. He directed that they should be eliminated by church inquisition and secular punishment.

So in little more than a decade the Catholic Church had branded the enthusiastic, popular movement as heresy.

They were driven from France to hide in the valleys of northern Italy.

They organized the movement as a church with bishops, priests and deacons.

They began to claim to be the “true” church.

In AD 1214 Pope Innocent described the Waldensians as heretics and schismatics.

Such outbursts convinced the Waldensians that the Catholic Church was the harlot of Babylon described in Revelation.

After Waldo himself died, the movement continued to examine and reject other external traditional elements of the Catholic Church.

Altars, holy water, liturgies, pilgrimages, indulgences … church buildings and cemeteries.

Spread throughout various parts of Europe.

Helped lay the groundwork for further reform and eventual restoration.

Marsilius in Italy (AD 1275-1342)

Intellectual and devout.

Wanted the people, as well as himself, to know the will of God.

Coined these slogans:

“The only authority in the church is Scripture, the final seat of authority being the New Testament.”

Concerning the mission of the church:

“The church should concern itself with the spiritual welfare of mankind.”

Opposed the many false claims of the Roman Catholic Church.

Believed in the right of private judgment.

Stoutly maintained that priests had no power of physical force to compel men to obey Scripture.

He said, “No bishop or Pope has authority to define Christian truth as contained in the New Testament or to make binding laws.”

He was bold to say that Peter had no higher rank than any other apostle and that there was no Bible evidence that he was ever in Rome.

He made brave and heroic efforts to put the Bible into the hands of the common people.

William of Occam in England (c. AD 1300-1349)

A distinguished scholar and professor at Oxford University in England.

Ockham was the village in the English county of Surrey where he was born.

A Franciscan friar who studied logic.

You may have heard of the following principle named after him.

Occam's razor (or Ockham's razor) is a principle from philosophy. Suppose that two explanations exist for an occurrence. In this case the simpler one is usually better. Another way of saying it is that the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation is. Occam's razor applies especially in the philosophy of science, but also more generally.

William of Occam was the most powerful critic in his day of the Catholic Church.

As a theologian, widely known and highly respected.

Willing to speak his mind when it was not popular to do so.

Said, “Scripture, and not the decisions of councils and popes, is alone binding on the Christian.” (Source: Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church.)

No wonder that Martin Luther, in this respect, could call him “dear master.”

Insisted that “Scripture is the final seat of authority for the church.”

What a bold statement for the age in which it was made!

John Wycliffe in England (AD 1324-1384)

In Oxford, rose to great scholarly distinction, lecturing to large classes.

Was looked upon as the ablest theologian at Oxford University.

A priest in the Catholic Church.

Did not withhold his criticism of the church when he felt that it was teaching and practicing things contrary to the New Testament.

Taught, “The Scriptures are the only law of the church.”

Taught that a papal decree had no validity except as it was consistent with the Scriptures.

Attacked the Catholic Church’s doctrine of transubstantiation, which asserted that the bread and the wine of the Lord’s Supper miraculously changed into Christ’s physical flesh and blood when the priest prayed over it.

Asserted that in the original church there were only two classes of officers – elders and deacons.

Referred to the Bible as the only source of spiritual truth.

That is, that God spoke to men only through the Bible and not church leaders and councils.

Said, “Scripture is the property of the people.”

Convinced that the Bible is God’s law, he determined to give it to the people in their own English language.

Between 1382 and 1384, translated Jerome’s Old Latin Vulgate into English.

His followers often called “Lollards,” a popular derogatory nickname given to those without an academic background, educated (if at all) only in English, who were reputed to follow the teachings of John Wycliffe in particular, and were certainly considerably energized by the translation of the Bible into the English language. By the mid-15th century, "lollard" had come to mean a heretic in general. 

They were bitterly persecuted and nearly extinguished under King Henry IV and Henry V.

Attacked the Pope – his avarice, his tyranny, and his usurping of power and privilege that were not rightfully his.

Referred to the Pope as “antichrist.”

“He lashed his bishops, contrasting their pomp and luxury with the simplicity of the New Testament bishops.”

Because of this the Pope ordered his imprisonment.

Wycliffe was literally hounded to death by the CC of which he was a member.

Died in 1384.

Forty years later his bones were dug up and burned, and the ashes were thrown into the River Swift.

Has been called “the morning star of the Reformation.”

Here is what he said about Bible study:

It shall greatly help ye to understand Scripture, if thou mark

Not only what is spoken or written,

But of whom,

And to whom,

With what words,

At what time,

Where,

To what intent,

With what circumstances,

Considering what goeth before

And what followeth.

John Huss in Bohemia (AD 1373-1415)

Born in 1373. Ordained to the Catholic priesthood in AD 1401.

Professor in the University of Prague.

Believed that the true head of the church was not the Pope but Christ.

As a preacher, gained immense popularity through his fiery sermons.

Became a disciple of John Wycliffe.

With Wycliffe, believed Scripture to be the only source of authority for the church.

At the University of Prague, “Almost the whole content of his lectures, as of his writings, was borrowed from Wycliffe, from whom he copied not only his main ideas but long passages verbatim and without specific acknowledgement.” – Preserved Smith

Started a campaign against indulgences.

Therefore banned by his church superiors.

Excommunicated by the Pope.

Summoned before the Council of Constance.

Promised safe conduct to and from the Council by church leaders.

In spite of that was tried, condemned, and burned at the stake July 6, 1415.

The charge against him – heresy.

His heresy – simply saying that Christ alone, and not the Pope, is the head of the church.

Died with steadfast courage regarding his faith, love for his friends, and forgiveness for his enemies.

We enjoy freedoms today because of the courage and faithfulness of this remarkable man.

Irony that corrupt leaders used violent force and even executed those whose “crime” was Bible study and preaching. Of course, these men threatened the religious establishment much as Christ himself had done in his day. As he was crucified, these men were attacked and even killed, also.

Jerome Savonarola in Italy (AD 1452-1498)

Wycliffe in England and Huss in Bohemia had a parallel in Italy.

Luther called him a proto-martyr of the Reformation.

Came to Florence, Italy, at age 30. Remained there until he died.

Referred to as “a second John the Baptist, pleading for a return to the purer life of early Christianity.”

Castigated the sins and wrongs of the church and the world.

Drew from the Bible lurid prophecies of danger and woe that would come to pass unless the people repented.

For 20 years in the Cathedral of Florence he preached the Bible as he understood it, and he did so with telling effect.

His preaching produced a religious and moral revival.

Scandals in Roman society and in the Roman church were notorious.

Papal corruption and immorality reached their height during the time that Alexander VI was the Pope. He was described as “a monster of all the vices.”

Savonarola denounced Rome and its clergy.

Quoted a common saying of the time: “If you want to ruin your son, make him a priest.”

His preaching made him a bitter enemy of Pope Alexander.

The Pope tried to bribe the powerful preacher by offering to give him a cardinal’s hat. Savonarola refused.

The Pope tried to silence him by repeated admonitions. No success.

So the Pope excommunicated Savonarola.

At length he was tried for heresy.

On May 23, 1498, with two of his followers, he was hanged and then burned publicly in the great square of Florence, Italy. His ashes were thrown into the Arno River.

His crime? Pleading for the primitive faith of the Bible against the traditions of the CC.

John Wessel in Germany (d. AD 1482)

Taught theology at several leading universities.

Regarded the Bible as the only rule of faith.

Rejected the alleged infallibility of the Pope, along with many other tenets of the RC.

Repudiated the authority of the church to interpret the Scriptures for believers.

Because of his stand for the Bible and the right of the people to read it, seen as a heretic.

Died in prison in 1482.

We close by reading a familiar passage.

2 Tim 2:14–19 (NASB95)

14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

When the King James Version was produced, “study to show thyself approved unto God” was equivalent to saying, “make every effort, be diligent, give it all you have to present yourself approved to God.” The preacher’s job, whether Timothy’s or mine, is also to remind the church of God’s truth and warn against its corruption.

In other words, stick with the seed!

If you are not a Christian, it is that imperishable seed that Peter connected with the new birth.

1 Pe 1:22–25 (NASB95)

22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.

Invitation – Be born again of God’s incorruptible, imperishable seed! Of water and the Spirit, by the power of God, as you turn from sin, confess Christ, and are baptized.