Something Far Worse than Covid

“Covid is real!” “Covid is deadly!” “People need to take Covid seriously!” Such statements ring resoundingly from both national news and social media outlets alike…And they’re absolutely right! Many Americans who had reportedly tested positive for Covid, had passed away.

Yes, there are more important things…

Now, as an aside, the reason I write it like that is because of the somewhat deceptive way in which such data is chronicled, conveyed to, and consumed by, us. Hopefully we all understand by now that only a portion of the total number of deaths being reported as resulting from Covid actually are. Check it out for yourself. Consider:

1). As a story in the Denver Post confirmed earlier this year, such categorization “has been used by the health department since the start of the pandemic and includes the total number of people who died who have COVID-19, regardless of whether it was the virus that ultimately killed them. (Emph. mine – DED)

2). It is also noteworthy that health care facilities can receive vastly more federal funding for each case of Covid that they list that they had to deal with.

3). When you add to that, the fact that in states like Oklahoma where the less dependable rapid test results that used to be considered as probable are now counted as positive. Well, you can see how that if one doesn’t understand the parameters behind which these numbers are arrived at, that the daily reported Covid “death toll” numbers can, at the very least appear to be quite deceptive, if not outright overly and grossly exaggerated.

However, the point of this article is neither to minimize the impact of the Coronavirus or to downplay the tragic loss of life that it is legitimately causing daily in our society. Any one life lost to this monster is one life too many! But what the point of this article actually is, is to bring to our attention a far, far, infinitely far greater and more deadly and dangerous event, and subsequently, the unbelievable irony that accompanies it. Consider…

Using these overly exaggerated numbers partly because even slightly more accurate ones are nowhere readily available as far as I know, that means that while 8,393,773 Americans have reportedly contracted the Coronavirus as of October 19th, that the other 322.5 or so million, or roughly 97.5% of Americans, have not. And yet, as to the infinitely more far reaching and life-changing event of which I speak, it will be experienced by every single American, as well as every other person on the entire planet to boot – 100% of us, no exceptions!

Also, while the recently-chronicled amount of Covid cases that have had an outcome in America as of the 19th of October numbered 5,688,234, some 5,463,410(or roughly 96%) of those people who once had it, had also recovered from and ultimately survived it. However, as to the far more fatal future event to which I refer, there will be no such overwhelming survival rate. In fact, there will be far more who will perish in it – and for all eternity – than there will be of those who survive it (Matt. 7:13-27).

Obviously by now you’ve figured out that the event to which I refer is the coming Judgment Day (Rev. 20:10-15). And the obvious irony is how so many unsaved folks who so adamantly claim that we must all take the Coronavirus more seriously – a disease that has only infected less than 3% of our population; a disease which, amongst those whom it has infected, have experienced about a 96% recovery rate; and a disease which can, only at its absolute most, take away one’s momentary earthly life–seem to want nothing whatsoever to do with taking far more seriously the eternal death that so many – including all of them if they don’t become Biblical New Testament Christians – will most certainly experience come Judgement Day! Talk about needing to take something far more seriously? Talk about messed up priorities! Talk about straining out a gnat to swallow a camel (Matt. 23:23-24)?!?

But before we get too far down on those who know neither Christ, His word, or about the judgement to come (like Felix in Acts 24:25), what about us? Where do our priorities lie? In discussing and/or seeking to help others avoid and/or survive the Coronavirus? Or, in discussing and seeking to help others avoid the wrath of God on Judgement Day, by teaching them how to better know and to obey Jesus, so they can survive it by virtue of His blood and be guaranteed entrance into His eternal heavenly home?

Yes: Covid is indeed real; and it needs to be taken very seriously. However, the question we as Christians must answer is: “Have we been helping to stem the tide of something far more destructive by sharing the gospel instead?”

Doug Dingley (www.Godswordistruth.org)

The Good Seed

Planting good seed

Many years ago, an interesting article appeared in a magazine. In the picture that accompanied the article a man was standing beside some pea vines. According to the article, some peas were found in a tomb in Egypt. These peas were purported to be over 2000 years old. The article went on to say the man had planted the peas to see if they would grow, which they did, and the peas produced were exactly like the peas found in the tomb. If true, it is a remarkable story and illus­trates some truths about spiri­tual seed.

Jesus spoke a parable about seed. He told of a man sowing seed in different kinds of ground. Some of it bore fruit and some did not bear fruit. It bore fruit when the ground was good. He explained what the seed represented, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). He also explained what the different kinds of ground represented. Of the good ground He said, “these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15).

Today there are many kinds of religious beliefs, all going by the name of “Christian.” When we see different kinds of plants, we know they grew from different kinds of seed. When there are different beliefs people should know that they are the result of different teachings. The right seed is the Word of God, the Bible. Any teach­ing that is not found in the Bible is the wrong seed and will produce the wrong fruit.

Seed produces after it’s kind

What fruit will the true seed produce when people take it into their hearts? It will produce Christians. It will make people believers in God and His Son Jesus Christ. It will cause them to love God and follow His teaching in His Word. If people follow God’s Word only, they will be Christians only, just like the first Christians.

Christians are people who have been born again. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). By what seed is he born? We find the answer in 1 Peter 1:23, “you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable…”

The fruit of the true seed is also the church. When one person receives the Word in faith and obe­dience, he becomes a Christian. When others do the same thing, they also are Christians, and the group of Christians is a church. A church is just a group of Christians who worship and serve God together. God gives instructions to the church in His Word. He describes how a church is to be organized, how Christians are to worship, to live, and to tell others about Christ. The way the apostles organized the churches they established is the way God wanted them to be organized. This is true because the apostles were God’s messengers and were inspired by His Spirit in them.

Paul’s warning

Paul warned that other seed would be planted and would pro­duce the wrong fruit. He said to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31). The words Jesus spoke when He was here on earth were His words. When He went back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide His apostles and others in teaching. What the Holy Spirit gave them to teach was Christ’s Word also. When He promised to send the Spirit He said, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:14-15).

Let us take into our hearts the pure Word of God. Let us con­tinue in that Word, learning it and following it. Never accept teach­ings that are not found there. In that way we will be faithful disciples, and the final fruit will be eternal life in the glory of God with all the redeemed.

12 Simple Ways to Share Your Faith

Reprinted From TEACHING HELP THE WRITINGS OF KIM HIGGINBOTHAM

Sharing a Bible

I’m an introvert. I have trouble talking to people. I wouldn’t know what to say. People don’t seem that interested. I’m don’t know how. I’m scared. I don’t have time. I don’t know enough. Evangelism isn’t my talent.

Excuses! We all have them, but we need to realize that evangelism is not a talent. It’s a command. Because I may not have a talent for singing, does not mean I can let someone else sing for me in worship. Singing is a command that I am required to do and so is evangelism!

Our view of evangelism is too limited if we only think of open Bible studies, door knocking, and mission trips. Those are great, but not everyone can do them. However, everyone is capable of evangelism, else God wouldn’t have commanded it.

Here are a few thoughts about sharing our faith:

1. Live it.

This isn’t necessarily evangelism, but it is important. No one will listen to a word you say if you are a hypocrite. Not only should your speech, dress, attitudes, and behaviors reflect Christ when people see you, but also when they “see” you on social media. Haven’t we all seen people proclaiming their Christianity on Facebook, but a quick scroll through their “Likes” or photos gives a completely different picture of who they are? Maybe you’ve changed from the person you used to be. Go through your social media posts, likes, and pictures to be sure you are reflecting Christ.

2. Publicly identify yourself as Christian on social media. 

Share Christian blog posts, scriptures, sermon links, and upcoming church events. However, do not be that person who fills your friends’ Facebook feed with too much sharing. I’ve had Facebook friends who post one thing after another in a single day. That’s a sure way to have people “unfriend” or “unfollow” you.

3. Keep something at your work space that identifies you as a Christian.

When I was teaching in public school, I kept a picture frame on my desk with a meaningful Bible verse in it. I had a principal who kept a devotional book on his desk. You may keep a Bible or other religious book that lets people know to whom you belong.

4. Invite a non-Christian to church services. 

How is it that we can invite a non-Christian friend to go shopping or lunch, but get shy and awkward about inviting them to church? You never know what their response will be and they may just come! Throw in an invitation to go to lunch afterward and take the opportunity to talk about the worship service.

5. Tell people that you went (or are going) to church. 

When someone asks what you did (or are going to do) on the weekend, tell them about church. Mention the sermon. Tell them about the great ministry program that is going on. Find positive, interesting tidbits to share.

6. Teach Bible class. 

Whether it is teaching children who are just learning about God or adults, teaching is a way we can share our faith.

7. Invite non-Christians to church events outside of services.

This could be VBS, seminar, fall festival, youth event, ladies’ day or anything where the non-Christian is introduced and welcomed by your church family. This can open doors to future invitations.

8. Go to lunch with a Christian friend and invite a non-Christian friend to join you.

Turn the conversation to spiritual things. Mention that you’d like to do more Bible study and ask if they would, too. Begin a group study.

9. Read the Bible on your lunch break.

Others may notice and ask you what you are reading or you may start the conversation.

10. Reach out to those who are in difficult circumstances.

Often people having hard times will be the most receptive to the gospel. That may include those who face illness, disability, grief, homelessness, prison,unplanned pregnancy, or special-needs. Talk with them, listen to their stories, offer hope and prayers for them.

11. Serve someone.

Look for non-Christian co-workers, neighbors, or friends to serve. Reach out with a homemade treats delivered with an invitation to worship. Email a note of appreciation and gratitude to someone with an appropriate scripture. Go out of your way to extend a kindness and be sure to connect your service with your Christianity.

12. Send & grade Bible correspondence courses.

 At our congregation, there have been Bible courses sent to thousands of individuals. People are needed to grade and send out lessons.

We are required to plant and water the seed of God’s word. It is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-8). Stop making evangelism harder than it has to be. It doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be intentional!

Note: Kim Higginbotham’s husband, Steve, preaches for Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN.

Watchdogs or Hushpuppies

by David Baker

watchdog

Often those who find themselves in indefensible positions resort to “invective” for justification. One of the more popular invectives is for those who speak out against error and criticize false teaching is “watchdog.”

Now, it is funny that the usual criticism of “watchdogs” is that they are not kind in the way they deal with problems. It is resented that they should be critical or that they should communicate their concerns to others. It rarely matters whether the language used is kind or unkind, or what kind of spirit is manifest when a “watchdog” does his thing. The fact is that they have done it, and they have actually used such terms as “false teacher” with reference to those who teach that which is false.

The funny part is that “false teacher,” while it may not be pleasing to hear it used about oneself, is an entirely useful term. It describes one in terms of what he does, and it rarely is applied unless one persists in his teaching of error. That is fair. But “watchdog” is intended as invective, not a kind or descriptive way of putting things at all. Those who use it must make an effort not to sound bitter or superior. And it wreaks positively of what it is intended to criticize.

God’s answer to “watchdogs”

What does God say? “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 3:17-19). God commends the function that some have decried as being “watchdogs,” but uses a more functional and less abusive term – “watchman.”

Those who take it upon themselves to speak for God are privileged to do so. With the privilege comes grave responsibility. “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment” (James 3:1). As servants of God we are entrusted with the spiritual welfare of the world, the souls of men. As each must answer to God, we must answer for how we have effected their answer. We have a responsibility to teach and to warn of those who teach error. If we cannot do that, then we dare not claim the privilege.

Paul reiterates God’s thoughts

Paul said, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). Was Paul being a “watchdog” when he told the brethren to reprove those who work darkness? By the way, “reprove” makes an interesting word study. “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision.

And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14). When error is publicly proclaimed or endorsed, it needs to be publicly exposed. That is Paul’s teaching and his example. To do less is to neglect God’s will in the matter.

Watchdog’s must be heard

The best watchdogs are the ones who make the most noise. I had a friend once who had a vicious Doberman. He bragged that no one would dare rob his house because of the fear that dog would provoke. He came home one day to find his house empty and the dog chewing on a strange “soup-bone” while his mind was apparently “lost in space.” What good was that mutt? The dog the thief fears the most is the poodle or Chihuahua. Have you ever seen one of those that didn’t bark his head off.

The noise of exposure and contradiction the false teacher cannot abide. He must do his work unopposed by the light of truth. He searches out the dark corners of vulnerable ears to plant his seed. Those who would warn are called “watch-dogs” as though that classifies them as vile. But it is the dog that doesn’t bark – the “hush-puppy” – that is condemned in Scripture. “His watchmen are blind, they are all without knowledge; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, the dogs are greedy, they can never have enough; and these are shepherds that cannot understand: they have all turned to their own way, each one to his gain, from every quarter” (Isaiah 56:10-11). Faithful servants are watchful. The best watchdogs are the ones who make the most noise.