Mysteries of the Bible Explained!

We have all watched shows from time to time purporting to explain certain “mysteries” within the Bible. Usually in these programs, the writers set forth an allegedly “unexplained” phenomenon discussed in the scriptures and then seek the professional opinions of scholars and educators from different institutions of higher learning. The result of these programs is often a conclusion to which most believers in the Bible are shocked and dismayed. Additionally, many who have trusted the Bible on its own merits, after watching such programs, are left with a sense of doubt and generally have more unanswered questions than answered.

There are several types of these programs aired. There are the programs that explain the miracles within the Bible in terms of nature. I watched one program that explained the crossing of the Red sea by the Israelites in terms of a big wind blowing the sea apart at a shallow place. Such naturalistic explanations of the miraculous are common in such programs. Other, similar, programs try to explain the authorship of the Bible in human terms; some question the purity of the life of Jesus; and still others level charges of misogyny against Paul. In these programs, the possibility of God’s existence and intervention in such things is usually ignored and/or relegated to the beliefs of right-wing fundamentalists. How should the Christian respond to such programs?

The Christian should recognize that the people who create such programs base their beliefs upon modern day philosophies more than they do the Bible (if they have any respect for the Bible at all; many do not), and postmodernism is the philosophy of the day. While there are many facets to postmodernism, one of its basic tenets is the belief that there really is no objective truth. Rather, “truth” is the explanation (theory) of something that holds up best against what is called “deconstruction,” a process of providing criticism that tests the explanation (theory). Postmodernism never uses the word “truth” per se, but the word theory (or explanation), in place of truth. The theory or set of theories that is the most falsifiable (that is, has the ability to be falsified by empirical data), but has the least evidence to prove that the theory is false becomes the accepted explanation for what is correct. What that means is that one can never prove the theory or set of theories to be true, it is just that there is no (or little) evidence to contradict the theory (i.e. it can’t easily be deconstructed). So the standard for truth becomes the theory that has the greatest potential to be falsified, but has the least evidence to contradict it. This leads to theories of the “unexplained” that are very naturalistic, because natural processes are more subject to falsification than supernatural theories.

The fact of the matter is that the fundamental assumption of postmodernism is false; truth exists. The statement “there is no truth” would be self contradictory if true, so it must be false. From the conclusion that there is objective truth, we can eventually come to the understanding that God exists and that the Bible is God’s word. Once that is established, we can easily recognize that the Bible contains all of God’s truth and we must believe it. Unfortunately, many people have bought into the philosophy of postmodernism, including many “Christians.” One, however, cannot be a true Christian and hold to the philosophy of postmodernism. It is simply contradictory to many of the plain statements of the Bible. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus believed in truth. The Bible teaches that we can know God’s truth and that it is God’s truth for all mankind today. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.

By Kevin Cauley 4/14/2016

“Those Folks Are Different!”

“Those Folks Are Different!”

By Kevin Cauley 4/17/2016

This past week I was having a conversation with a friend who is a member of a denominational church. She mentioned to me that she wanted to come visit us and that she had told her “pastor” that she was going to visit us. Her “pastor” asked who we were and my friend responded, “the church of Christ.” The “pastor” said, “Are you sure you want to do that? Those folks are different!”

There are many members of the church today who would react negatively to that analysis. They would say, “Oh, we’re no different than any of the denominations around us.” To these, it is an embarrassment that they are considered to be different by the denominations. These would want to change the church into just another denomination, to legitimize and acquire instrumental music, to destroy the autonomy of the local congregation, to call the preacher, “pastor”, to get rid of the name “church of Christ,” etc. until the church is no longer distinctive from those around us. However, that would not be the way of God or Christ.

We read in the scriptures that God has always demanding of his people that they be different. In Deuteronomy 14:2, Moses tells the children of Israel that they are different. He says, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” The word “holy” means to be set apart, different. God wanted the children of Israel to be a “peculiar people.” The new English Standard Version translates this phrase “treasured possession.” Certainly something that is a treasured possession is different from everything else one has and is set apart.

In the New Testament as well, Peter quotes from this passage in Deuteronomy and applies it toward “Spiritual Israel” – Christians. Peter writes, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). God wants us, as Christians, to be different. Paul writes to Titus these words regarding Jesus, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” Titus 2:14). Jesus died so that we could be different. We read in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” In order to be God’s children, the church must be separate, distinct, unique, different.

So, are we different? Yes, we are, and I am glad that we are. Today we live in a time when denominations around us are conforming to the world. We hear of denominations who condone abortion, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery. The church of Christ does not condone such activities because God’s word condemns these things. Instead of conforming to the way that the world would have the church, the church ought to be demanding of individuals that their lives be transformed through repentance and renewal of mind. In Romans 12:2 we read, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Are we different? Yes, we are. We are different because we have been transformed by Christ to be a people who are holy, the children of God, separate from that which is sinful; different from the way the world would mold religion in its own image today. It is our differences from everyone else that define who we are as Christians. We should never be embarrassed of that! The world and the denominations may think us “strange” (1 Peter 4:4) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. One day, Jesus will return and all will bow and God will be glorified, not because of our similarities with the world, but because of our differences (Matthew 25:34).

The Baptism of the Twelve Ephesians

The Baptism of the Twelve Ephesians

By Kevin Cauley 4/17/2016

At the end of Acts 18 and the beginning of Acts 19, we have a very interesting account of salvation. The account is one in which those who were candidates of salvation submitted to two different baptisms, the baptism of John, and then, the baptism of Jesus. This account is an interesting one, because it teaches us some things about baptism that are not found anywhere else in the Bible. Let’s study this passage together and see if we can learn some things from God’s word.

First, we see that one can teach that Jesus is Lord, yet teach baptism wrong. We read in Acts 18:24, 25 the following: “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.” Notice the facts that we find here regarding Apollos. First, he was a Jew. Second, he was born at Alexandria. Third, he was an eloquent man. Fourth, he was mighty in the scriptures. Fifth, he came to Ephesus. Sixth, he was instructed in the way of the Lord. Seventh, he was fervent in spirit. Eighth, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord. Ninth, he knew only the baptism of John. Apollos was both instructed in the way of the Lord, and taught the things of the Lord, yet, he did not know the Lord’s baptism? How can this be? Evidently, Apollos had been around Jerusalem sometime during the earthly ministry of both John the baptizer, and Jesus, but Apollos had missed the Lord’s critical teaching about baptism during the period of the Great Commission. Therefore, he did not know that baptism was now being administered by the authority of Jesus. Those who submitted to the baptism that Apollos knew, were not submitting to the authority of the Lord. Did Apollos teach that Jesus was the Lord? Yes. Did he teach others to believe in the Lord Jesus? Yes. It should be obvious that just because one believes in Jesus doesn’t mean that one’s baptism is correct.

Second, we see that if your baptism isn’t right, you’ve got to get it right! It is interesting that Paul came after Apollos to the same city, Ephesus, and inquired about the baptism of these disciples. We read in Acts 19:1-3 “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.” Paul used a process of discovery to determine if their baptism was valid or not. He first asked if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. (Again, we note that the text says that they had believed. They believed that Jesus was the Christ, but their baptism was not right.) Their response was that they had not heard of the Holy Spirit. This response was indicative of their baptism, because Paul then asked, “Unto what then were ye baptized?” They should have heard of the Holy Spirit at their baptism because the baptism that Christ commanded in Matthew 28:18-20 was “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The fact that they did not hear about the Holy Spirit, indicated to Paul that they were not baptized correctly. Their baptism wasn’t right and they had to get it right!

Third, we see that to get their baptism right, it had to be by the authority of Jesus. Paul explains in Acts 19:4, 5, “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus” means by the Lord’s authority. John’s baptism was not based upon the authority of the Lord Jesus. Was it based upon the belief that the Messiah was coming? Yes it was (Luke 2:4). Was it based upon repentance unto remission of sins? Yes it was (Luke 3:3). Was it water baptism? Yes it was (Luke 3:16). Was it immersion? Yes it was (John 3:23). What was different about the baptism of John from the baptism of Jesus? The baptism of Jesus was based upon the authority of Jesus as given in the Great Commission. Jesus said, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.” This meant that after this time, John’s baptism had no more authority. Only the baptism commanded by Jesus, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit had the authority of Christ. This authority was powerfully demonstrated in the resurrection of Christ of which baptism is a likeness (Romans 6:1-10). If our baptism is not based upon the authority of Christ, then all we did was get wet like these men at Ephesus. What is baptism based upon the authority of Christ? It is baptism for salvation (Mark 16:16); it is baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38); it is baptism for discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20); it is baptism for washing away sins (Acts 22:16); it is the point at which we believe God forgives us of sins (Colossians 2:11-13); it is baptism that saves (1 Peter 3:21). John’s baptism did not have THIS authority-the authority to grant salvation! We must understand that to be baptized right, we must acknowledge what Christ has authorized baptism to do-forgive sin and grant salvation! The beautiful results of the reception of the Holy Spirit by these disciples indicated this very fact. Verse 6 states, “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” The prophecy made by Joel and quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17-21 proved the relationship of the miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit with individual salvation. These men were now saved.

Let us always respect the authority of Christ in baptism and understand that one may teach that Jesus is Lord, yet teach baptism wrong. Let us understand that if your baptism is not right, you’ve got to get it right! And let us understand that correct baptism only comes as authorized by Jesus today and that His authority has placed baptism and salvation together (Mark 16:16).

Striving To Become “Veterans”

Striving To Become “Veterans”

By Mike Riley


The dictionary defines “veteran” as: “A person who has had long service or experience in an occupation, office, or the like; a person who has served in a military force, esp. one who has fought in a war; experienced through long service or practice; having served for a long period: a veteran member of congress.”

This term gives us the image of a person who possesses longevity, endurance and perseverance — certainly not a novice.

The apostle Paul wrote that it is proper for sound doctrine:

That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience” (Titus 2:2).

As followers of Christ, Paul’s description should fit each one of us:

1) Are we sober? — This word means serious-minded. Are we serious about spiritual things, so that our younger brothers and sisters in the faith see the attention we pay to such matters? (cf. Ephesians 1:15-18; Colossians 1:3-11).

2) Are we reverent? — Do we approach the worship of God and our service to Him with awe and honor, respecting God’s divine authority? Do we live before Him with godly fear? (Hebrews 12:28).

3) Are we temperate — One who exercises self-control? (2 Peter 1:6). Do younger Christians see us as one who controls his emotions and desires, who brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)? Solomon tells us:

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

4) Are we sound in faith? — Are our beliefs and practices as a child of God based upon “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), or are we quick to “think beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) and approve what God’s word has not authorized? (Colossians 3:17).

5) Are we sound in love? — Does our treatment of others, especially those of the household of faith, demonstrate the character of Jesus? Our Lord said:

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35; cf. Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14; Mark 5:18-19).

6) Are we sound in patience? — Is our gentleness known to “all men”? (Philippians 4:5). Are we:

kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

As the wise man once noted:

The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head” (Proverbs 20:29).

Neither youth nor age is inherently superior, both having their place and function in the Lord’s kingdom. The beauty of being a “veteran” lies not in simply having survived a long time, but in the wisdom and discipline that can be gained from a lifetime of obedient faith (cf. Hebrews 11:4-40; James 5:10-11).

Regarding older leaders in the church, the Hebrew writer states:

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (Hebrews 13:7).

Yes brethren, we would do well to honor the “veterans” among us — faithful Christians whose lives of service testify to the grace and riches of our Lord and Savior. And yes, each of us should strive for “veteran” status, becoming examples worthy of imitation (1 Corinthians 4:15-16;1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17).

“But When Thou Makest A Feast…”

“But When Thou Makest A Feast…”

By Mike Riley 4/19/2016

In Luke 14:12-14, our Lord said to the lawyers and Pharisees, “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kindsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”

How can we make application of the above verses today?

One way that we can make application of these verses, is by helping those who need help and cannot compensate us for our services. In this regard, Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). As a result, we will be richly “recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). This is the principle of laying up for ourselves “treasures in heaven….” (Matthew 6:20; cf. Matthew 19:21; 1 Timothy 6:18-20).

Our Lord gave us a spiritual application of the above verses (the principle of selfless giving), when He told the self-righteous Pharisees, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:12). He went on to say that His purpose for coming to the earth was not “to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). Our Lord provides not only the physical necessities of life (Matthew 6:25-32), but the spiritual necessities of life as well (John 10:10; cf. Psalm 23; Philippians 4:19). Since He is our example (1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21), can we as His followers do any less for those in need (both physically and spiritually) and still be blessed?

Saved By The Blood Of Jesus!

Saved By The Blood Of Jesus!

By Mike Riley1/4/2017

Most (if not all) professed Christians of whatever creed or belief agree that there is a time when an alien sinner is separated from God. They are not agreed, however, on where reunion takes place when the alien sinner returns to God. Some of them teach that it is when the sinner, in answer to prayer, receives the Holy Spirit into his heart. Others teach that it is when the sinner touches the blood of Jesus, that we are saved by the blood.

This is one of the most important differences confronting the religious world today. On it “hangs” the destiny of millions of human souls. If the penitent sinner is reunited to God by the Holy Spirit coming into his heart in answer to prayer, then Jesus shed his blood in vain. That kind of salvation is a “bloodless” salvation. But this cannot be, for God’s word says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). We are, quite simply, saved by the blood.

The Connection With The Blood of Jesus

Just “where” is this connection established? Perhaps most of the preachers in the world today will tell you that it is when God sends the Holy Spirit into the heart of the sinner and the sinner passes from unto life. The sinner himself may believe this, and become very happy, and from that day forward live a prayerful, consecrated life and finally die believing with all his heart that he has been saved from his alien sins. But has he? Not if the blood of Jesus has anything to do with his salvation. And who will say that he can be saved independent of the blood of Jesus?

On the day of Pentecost the law of pardon for the alien sinner was made known (Acts 2). Peter and the other apostles first preached the to the multitude. Those who heard them were pierced in their hearts and cried out, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:36). By inspiration, Peter gave the answer. What did he say? Did he tell them they should pray, and then God would send His Spirit into their hearts and take away their sins? He did not.

He said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). “But,” you say, “there is no mention of the blood of Jesus. Only repentance and baptism are mentioned in connection with the remission of sins.” That’s true, but is connected with the “blood of Jesus”, and one reaches (or contacts) the blood of Jesus only through . Notice carefully: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his ? Therefore we are buried with him by into : that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

The inspired apostle Paul clearly says here that we are baptized into the death of Jesus. He says we are buried with him “by baptism into death”. Now this much has been made clear: When an alien sinner has been pierced in the heart and wants to know what he must do to be saved, he is first told to repent and turn away from his sins. He is then told he must be baptized “for the remission of sins”(Acts 2:37-38). He is informed by Paul in Romans 6:3-4 that his baptism is to be a burial and that his baptismal burial is into the death of Jesus. But what happened in the death of Jesus? It was there where he shed his blood!

While Jesus was on the cross, the Roman soldiers came to break the legs of those who had been crucified. They broke the legs of each suffering thief, “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs, but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:33-34). Jesus, then, shed His blood in death, not in His life. This being the case, it follows that if I would reach (or contact) His blood, I must do so by getting into His death, and that is done by being baptized into the death of Jesus (Romans 6:3).

Buried With Jesus In Baptism

Now the question we are discussing is this: “Where does a penitent, alien sinner make connection with God to receive of his sins? Is it in the Holy Spirit, or is it in the blood of Jesus?” Denominational churches teach that the connection is made when God, in answer to prayer, sends the Holy Spirit into the sinner’s heart and takes away his sins. The Bible teaches that the connection is made when the penitent sinner is buried with Jesus in baptism into His death where His blood was shed and where it is contacted to remit sins.

If we were to call all the denominational preachers in the world together and ask them where the penitent alien sinner receives the of his sins, the great majority of them would say, “At the altar,” meaning that the sinner prays to God, that God hears his prayer, and sends the Holy Spirit into his heart. The Holy Spirit then takes the sin out of the sinner’s heart, and he is then and there saved. He can now be baptized or not as he sees fit, by sprinkling or immersion, or as the he wishes to join to become a member requires. “But,” those preachers will say, “baptism has nothing to do with salvation. That was taken care of at the altar when the Holy Spirit entered his heart.”

If these preachers are right, then the Bible is wrong, but the Bible does not teach it that way. Faithful preachers of God’s Word should be willing go on the polemic platform with any denominational preacher in the land, examine every case of since Jesus died, and prove that not one of them is right in asserting that salvation comes through prayer. If these preachers are wrong, then they are leading millions of sincere people into the ditch of error. In this case, the blind are leading the blind and “both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).

Saved by the Blood of Jesus

Brethren, we are either saved “by” the blood of Jesus, or we are saved “independent” of it. If we are saved by the blood, then we are saved when we reach the blood, or are connected with it. We reach it, or are connected with it when we are baptized.

A Warning From Judges 2:10 – In One Generation’s Time

A Warning From Judges 2:10 – In One Generation’s Time

By Bill Jackson 1/4/2017

Some very wise men in the kingdom have been known to state that we are always just one generation from apostasy. In seeing the growth of harmful trends in these last several years, we’re convinced that a full generation is not needed! But let us focus on what can occur in one generation’s time, and Judges 2:10 is so appropriate just here. Reference has been made to Joshua’s generation, and then this: “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after then, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” This, in one generation’s time!

Our Lord had made it so plain, in John 6:45 – “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” We see the emphasis we’re making now in the wording of the Great Commission, recorded by Matthew: “Go ye therefore, and teach….teaching them…” “Matthew 28:19, 20). A shift away from the study of, and teaching of, the Word of God is the opening of the door and a begging for apostasy. That lesson has been well demonstrated in Israel’s history, and it has been repeatedly shown in the history of the . But, do we learn?

We can see deviation at work in one generation’s time in what we read of the work in Ephesus. This was a noteworthy stop in the apostle ’s missionary endeavors (Acts 19), and we combine that fact with several others made plain in the New Testament. May we be reminded of blessings and benefits received by Ephesus:

(1) had visited there, and caused some to take their place faithfully in Christ. Not every city or community in the New Testament era had an apostle to visit them early in their work, but Ephesus did!

(2) Late in his missionary work, Paul called the Ephesian elders to meet him at Miletus, and he reviewed his work before them, gave them special charges pertaining to their work, spoke of dangers before them as wolves should seek to harm their flock, and gave them specific warnings regarding some false men arising from their own ranks! (Acts 20:28-30). Not every , and not every eldership, was blessed in having an apostle to meet with them and call special attention to dangerous times ahead, with warnings given to them to be faithful, but Ephesus had such warnings given!

(3) And, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesian congregation, with that special emphasis on Christ, Head of the church; the of God’s foreordained will for the saving of men; the word of truth as the instrument of salvation, and the great unity the Spirit teaches, with the need to loyally maintain and keep it! Not every New Testament congregation had a letter sent to them from an inspired apostle, but Ephesus was so blessed!

So, those benefits: Paul’s physically being with them, Paul’s meeting with the for special teaching and warning, and Paul’s great lessons to them in his letter sent them. What benefits and blessings were given to Ephesus!

In less than a generation’s time, we see Ephesus again, as the Lord, the Head of the church, writes to that congregation. The letter to Ephesus is one among seven, recorded in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. The Lord, always faithful in noting loyalty and dedication, refers to some of that in Ephesus’ history, but then we have this: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first ” (Rev. 2:4). Against the blessings and benefits earlier received by Ephesus, now we have words from the Christ himself: “Ephesus does not me as she earlier did.” And not too many years later, in the apostasy of the late first century and beyond Ephesus ceased to be the people of God! It thus HAS HAPPENED, and it IS HAPPENING today, and it WILL HAPPEN to some in the future. Will we learn from Ephesus? Remember, IN ONE GENERATIONS’S TIME – OR LESS!


J.D. Tant — Texas Preacher

J.D. Tant — Texas Preacher

By Kevin Cauley 1/5/2017

I have just finished reading one of the most delightful books that I have ever read. It is entitled, J.D. Tant–Texas Preacher. I am sure that many of the brethren have read this book, and I would encourage more to read it. As a young gospel preacher, I found it particularly encouraging because in this biography we have an example of a man who confirmed in his life the very principles to which we have committed ourselves as gospel preachers. In this book, brother Tant stands as an everlasting example to preachers everywhere as to what a gospel preacher should be. Let us briefly look at how this man followed the Lord in his life. Then let us follow his example as he followed Christ.

J.D. Tant is an example of what a Gospel preacher should be in being honest. When J.D. Tant first started preaching, he was a Methodist preacher. One day, a “Campbellite” preacher came to town and Tant went to hear this man. He was convinced that Methodist doctrine was wrong and he became a Christian. He had been immersed with Methodist “baptism” and was told that if he was satisfied with his “baptism” then he would not have to be “baptized” again. A few years later, J.D. Tant came in contact with a man who taught that sectarian “baptism” was not New Testament baptism even if it was done in the form of immersion. J.D., being convinced that his “baptism” was valid, engaged this man in a debate. Tant “licked” his opponent. However, his opponent came back with new rebuttals. In the second debate, J.D. was forced to see the necessity of being immersed with the knowledge that immersion was for the remission of sins. Although the man with whom he debated did not baptize him, he sought out another gospel preacher and was scripturally baptized. Truly he is an example to the gospel preacher on being an honest man.

J.D. Tant is an example of what a Gospel preacher should be in preaching the gospel. He went everywhere he could to preach. When he first started preaching, he would simply go to people’s homes and preach to them right in their own houses. Soon, a church of Christ was established and he would go to another place to preach once more. In his day, they had what were called “protracted gospel meetings.” They would meet every day for seven hours a day for a period of three to four weeks. This is what they called a gospel meeting. (This embarrasses me when I think of the series of sermons we style “gospel meetings” today. It is no wonder that the church grew during that time, and it is no wonder that we are not growing today. The people wanted to hear gospel preaching and were willing to devote large amounts of time to hear and study the gospel message. Would to God that we get back to real gospel meetings instead of this Friday to Sunday nonsense!) Brother Tant was not ashamed to preach the gospel anywhere he could. If there was a church in the town, then he would go there and ask to use the building to preach a gospel meeting. If there was no church, then he would go to the “digressives” (Christian church) and ask to use their building to hold a gospel meeting. If there were only denominations, then he would go and ask to use one of their buildings to preach the gospel. If all three of these were not present, or did not allow him to use their building, then he would go to the courthouse and hold a gospel meeting there. He did not stop until he found a place to preach the gospel. When he left, he usually left a small congregation. Often times, he left a fairly large congregation with a meeting house which, more than likely, he helped build. At the end of his life he had baptized over 8000 people and had trained more than 100 gospel preachers. Truly he was a great example in preaching.

J.D. Tant was an example in contending “… earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). When he did preach in Christian church houses, he made is plain that he was opposed to the mechanical instrument of music and to the missionary society. When he preached to Methodists and Baptists, he made it plain that these people had to come out of Methodist and Baptist doctrine to be saved. Very often, the Methodists and/or Baptists would realize what was happening and challenge him for a debate. He was more than happy to comply with them stating that he would “affirm anything they would deny and deny anything they would affirm.” Often times he did not even worry about signing a proposition until he arrived at the debate location knowing that he was going to oppose error and defend the truth. Not only did he debate the denominations, but he also debated his own brethren in regards to the question of whether a person must know that they are being baptized for the remission of sins when they are baptized. He affirmed that a person must know this and was instrumental in convicting many brethren of this truth. He was also militant in his writing. He would not hesitate to write in the Firm Foundation, or the Gospel Advocate who, where, and what he had condemned through the power of the gospel. Toward the end of his life, many churches asked him to come and straighten out congregational problems that had arisen. He would not hesitate to mount the pulpit and call names of individuals and tell the sin in which they were involved. At the end of his articles, in which he would report these things, he would write, “Don’t forget, brethren, we are drifting.” Had he lived to see today, no doubt he would have written, “Brethren, we have drifted.” J.D. Tant was an example in contending earnestly for the faith.

There are many other things in which J.D. Tant is a good example for gospel preachers. He was an example in bravery, sincerity, charity, loyalty, sacrifice, humor, and many more wonderful Christian virtues. We would do well to buy this book; read it; learn from this man’s life, and follow him as he followed Christ.

Post-Mortem of a Failed Church

  1. We didn’t gather enough resources – money and team.
  2. We took too much for granted. Assumed that people would love our ideas as much as we did.
  3. We jumped into the deep end with weights tied around our ankles. The weights was our personal debt. I had to work a “Career” type job in order to pay our bills. This meant I didn’t have the time or energy left to plant a church.
  4. Our vision for church planting didn’t match our sending group. That’s something we kinda realized and completely ignored. I think that ended up hurting our effectiveness because the advice we got wasn’t congruent with what we were wanting to do and comfortable with.
  5. Both spouses weren’t 110% committed to planting a church. Both of us were committed to ministry – but not fully committed to started a new church.

What we did well.

  1. We took our time.
  2. We asked a lot of questions from a lot of different people.
  3. We followed the leadership of a church planting group.
  4. We completely stepped out in faith and went “all in.”


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Not Sure Why People Are Leaving Your Church?

Are people leaving your church . . . and you’re not sure why? If so, you’re probably a little (or more than a little) upset by this. Maybe you’re defensive, hurt and even a little angry.

I hope you hear me when I say that it’s not just you’re church. There’s a lot of churches that have people leaving. And there’s a lot of people who are in your position.

Now, as far as any emotions you’re experiencing or have experienced – I take those as a positive sign. It means you care. Now, I’ll be honest and say that you might care more than you should about the wrong things or the wrong people. But at least you care. If you have an “oh well” attitude, well that’s not such a good thing.

I’ve wrestled with a lot of the thoughts that I’m still trying to figure out how to write down. Some of the wrestling is because I was frustrated and didn’t want those frustrations to come out in an unChristlike way. And I think some of the wrestling was due to the fact that there are some tough realities and truths that need to be shared with you. And I don’t want to hurt you.

But here we are. And here I am now writing this. So let me just share some thoughts from a lady who wrote a great book that I am working through. Her name is Ruth Haley Barton and the book is titled Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.


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