Common Sense

God gave us our minds, and He expects us to use them to honor Him (1 Tim. 6:17; 2 Cor. 10:4-5). We are commanded to, “test all things, hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). God wants us to use our ability to reason in order to come to right conclusions about His will (Isa. 1:18; 1 John 4:1). Truly, Christians are to be people of “common sense” principles. Consider some that operate in all of our lives:
Don’t follow somebody who has never been to heaven – Jesus is the only One who made the round trip from heaven to earth (Phil. 2:6-11). Many are led astray by the doctrines of men (Matt. 15:9) and the philosophies of the world (Col. 2:8). Only Jesus can show us the way to heaven – follow Him (John 14:6; 12:48).
We reap what we sow – There is no escaping this principle, for God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7). Everybody is sowing seeds of one kind or another all the time. Some seeds will produce an unpleasant and painful harvest (Hosea 8:7). Others will produce peace, righteousness and other blessings (James 3:18; Luke 8:11). What are you sowing?
If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten – The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. In the struggle with sin, many people need to change what they are doing (James 4:7). Some need to change their company (1 Cor. 15:33). If a person does not like his present circumstances, he needs to do some things differently.
Things don’t just happen, somebody’s got to make them happen – Many wring their hands about a lack of concern for morality in our nation, but is anyone teaching otherwise (Titus 2:3-4; Judges 17:6)? Some congregations are concerned about
declining numbers, but is anyone truly planting seed (Luke 8:11; Matt. 28:18-20)? The wise man quipped: “I used to wonder why somebody didn’t do something, and then I realized I WAS somebody!”
We cannot give others what we ourselves do not possess – Common sense would indicate that a parent cannot pass spiritual values to his children when he himself does not possess those values (Eph. 6:4). A teacher cannot motivate his or her students to be interested in hearing God’s word if the teacher himself is not too interested (1 Tim. 4:15). An elder cannot expect people to be committed to the promotion and defense of the Gospel when he himself has other priorities (Titus 1:9).
A determined man with a rusty wrench can do more than a loafer with new tools – Determination is the key to accomplishment. All the talent in the world is useless if a person is lazy and indifferent (Prov. 6:6-9). Whatever our hands find to do, we ought to
do with all our might (Eccl. 9:10).
Lift where you stand; bloom where God plants you – Common sense teaches that it is impossible for a man to do much to lift burdens when he is some distance away. However, if we will open our eyes we will find that God has given all of us opportunities to lift where we are standing (Gal. 6:1-4). God’s grace is sufficient for us, especially when we acknowledge our own weaknesses before Him (2 Cor. 12:9). Too many Christians obsess about problems beyond their control, when instead they should be lifting where they stand (Matt. 5:13-16; Phil. 2:12-15).

Unbelievable

Just suppose you were walking through a grape arbor, and suddenly, you come upon a most amazing thing. You look, and you are astonished, because what you see is this: a perfectly formed grape vine — only one branch is producing apples, another is producing oranges, another – pears, another – figs, another – bananas, and yet another – pomegranates. You are flabbergasted; left utterly speechless. You’ve never seen anything like this before — never in your entire life! You exclaim — UNBELIEVABLE!!! And you would be correct! Such a plant would be unbelievable. In fact, it is an impossibility. Such a plant WILL NOT be seen in the physical world, or in the spiritual world.
Quite often, we hear someone say:  “Jesus talks about the vine and the branches, and that means that all the different churches are alright with God.  So, just attend the church of your choice. After all, you can serve God acceptably in ANY church!” In effect, what these people are saying is that this sort of plant DOES, in fact, exist in the world today. Yes, Jesus talks about the vine and the branches, but He does NOT say that the branches are churches. Let us look at the passage of Scripture which mentions the vine and the branches. In John 15:5-8, Jesus states: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.”
Now, let me ask a question. Does this passage really teach that all churches are the branches?  I submit to you that it does not teach this idea!  When Jesus says: “He that abideth in Me, and I in him,” He is not talking about any church, but a person. The same is true with the phrases: “YE are the branches” (verse 5); and “If a MAN abide not in Me, HE is cast forth as a branch” (verse 6). These two verses go along with verse 7, which states: “If YE abide in Me, and MY words abide in YOU.” In no way can this simple passage of Scripture be construed in such a way as to get churches into it.  Churches just are not there. The Lord is talking about people! He is saying that If we (as individuals) will learn His will, which is revealed through the gospel, the Word of God, and then do it, He will abide with us. In fact, He goes on to say that IF people will do this (learn the will of God and OBEY it) then the Father is glorified in that, and other people will know that we are disciples (followers) of Christ  (verse 8). And in truth, this is what we should WANT to do, IF we truly love the Lord. Remember, Jesus plainly states: “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will Manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).  We show our love for the Lord when we keep His commandments, ALL of His commandments, which is stated very clearly in John 14:9-10.
Religious division (which is what we are talking about) is wrong according to the Scriptures. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in the city of Corinth, and said: “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the SAME THING, and that there be NO DIVISIONS among you; but that ye BE PERFECTLY JOINED TOGETHER in the SAME MIND and in the SAME JUDGMENT” (1 Corinthians 1:10). The Lord doesn’t want religious division! He wants everyone to believe the same thing — teach the same thing — and practice the same things! Paul asks this question in 1 Corinthians 1:13: “Is Christ divided?” By the looks of the religious world, the answer to this question would have to be YES! And that is contrary to the Lord’s expressed will. Abiding by what God’s Word says would mean that we all could be acceptable to the Lord.
James Strickland