Why Didn’t You Go to the Meeting?

WHY DIDN’T YOU GO TO THE MEETING?
by Wayne S. Walker

     Anywhere, Anystate, USA
     To whom it may concern,
     The brethren over at Green Meadows asked me to hold a Sunday through Sunday meeting for them and I agreed. The meeting began with two fine services on Sunday. Even if I do say so myself, my sermons on faithfulness and dedication to the Lord really went well. But Monday night, one of our kids had a band concert at school and we just couldn’t miss that!
     On Tuesday night, just as I was ready to leave, some. friends dropped in. They stayed around till 8:00 and by then it was too late to make it. Then on Wednesday night we stopped by the school for the kids’ open house with plans to go on to the meeting from there. But a film was being showed that they needed to see so we decided to stay since we felt it was more important than the meeting.
     The weather finally broke Thursday and I was able to get some jobs around the lawn done. I worked so hard all day that when I came in that evening I was really tired, and oh, how my back hurt. There was no way I could make it to the meeting. (The last time this happened to me, I had the hardest time sitting through my son’s baseball game!) So we went shopping in town instead.
     I have a part-time job to help make ends meet, and Friday night the boss called for me to come in and do some extra work. Boy, you can’t turn down that overtime for anything. Saturday night, he asked me if I would make a quick trip out of town to take some papers to a branch office. He had more important things to do but, of course, I didn’t.
     Well, I was finally able to get back over to Green Meadows on Sunday morning. Do you know, those brethren had the audacity to tell me that they were not going to pay me for the meeting! Why, the very idea. I had good, valid reasons for not coming every night. By the way, why didn’t you go to the meeting?
     Signed:
     Bro. I.B. Lax, evangelist
     —taken from Guardian of Truth; July 19, 1984; Vol. XXVIII, No. 14; p. 438 

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Gospel Meetings

GOSPEL MEETINGS
by Wayne S. Walker

     It used to be that if a church announced a gospel meeting, people from congregations, not only near-by but eighty to one hundred miles away, would be there as often as possible. Even today in regions where the church is not strong and the closest group of Christians is at least seventy-five miles off, brethren think nothing of making a two-hour trip to attend, going to someone’s house afterwards to talk for a while, and then making the two-hour drive home again. Yet very few of us can find the time in our busy, workaday schedule to attend the meetings of churches less than an hour’s distance or even those in the same metropolitan area! “But,” someone might ask, “the local congregation of which I am a member did not plan this activity; why should I go?” Good question — why should you go?
     1. To worship God. It seems to me that a person who is a genuine Christian, who has truly given his life to Christ, who really loves the Lord with all his heart, would want to praise his Creator and his Savior with other faithful saints every chance he could get. Gospel meetings give us such a chance in addition to our regular assemblies. Why waste them if we can go. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God.”
     2. To support the preaching of the gospel. It is much easier for a preacher to preach when he has someone to preach to. And the more present the better! Paul indicated that we should pray for preachers. Is it not somewhat hypocritical to make a pretense in prayer – “God, bless thy ministering servants everywhere and give them courage to uphold the blood-stained banner of Christ,” etc. – and then fail to do our part to encourage them when we have the opportunity? One way we can show our support for a faithful gospel preacher and his message is by going to hear him when he preaches. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things.”
     3. To associate with fellow-Christians. We are commanded to “love the brotherhood.” It is a fact that we can love our brethren in other places better the more we get to know them. We should be interested in the work of the Lord in every place, and attending meetings provides an occasion to learn of what the church is doing elsewhere, to become acquainted with those who make it up, and to encourage saints in their efforts. It will show how much love and concern we have for the children of God.
     4. To study God’s word and be edified. As Christians who are to “grow in grace and knowledge,” we should seek to engage in periods of Bible study as often as we can. Faith comes by hearing, so it would seemingly follow that the more we hear, the stronger our faith Will be. At least, it ought to be that way. The time spent in listening to the preaching of the gospel in meetings will build us up in the word and exhort our souls to more diligent service in the kingdom. All of us certainly need that!
     Spring and fall are generally considered the “meeting seasons.” So the next time they roll around, set aside some time and make plans to attend a night or two of each of the meetings in your area that you can. You will be stronger, the preacher and the brethren will be encouraged, and God will be glorified. And if you are thinking, “I need to spend some time with my family instead,” take them with you. Driving to and from the meeting in the car will give you more actual time to be with your family than sitting in front of a television all evening.
     —taken from Guardian of Truth; February 2, 1984; Vol. XXVIII, No. 3; p. 83

Does Heaven Hold All to You?

DOES HEAVEN HOLD ALL TO YOU?

By Wayne S. Walker

     Through the ages mankind has always asked, “Is this world all there is?”  There is something within us that yearns for a better place, yet there is nothing in our purely human experience that tells us what or where it is.  However, the Bible, which claims to be a message from God to man, reveals more information and tells us about a place that is beyond the pale of this physical existence.  Even the patriarchs of the Old Testament knew something about it.

     “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  Notice that they desired a better, that is, a heavenly country.  The scriptures refer to this place which God prepared for them, and the Bible also teaches for us as well, as heaven.  We want to examine what God’s word has to say about this place and ask the question, does heaven hold all to you?

I. What?

     What is heaven?  Our English word “heaven” literally means that which has been “heaved” and therefore is up.  The Greek word translated “heaven” also comes from a root that means to lift or to heave.  The term is often used in contrast to the earth (Gen. 1:1, Matt. 6:19-20).  For our purposes, we shall define heaven as the eternal dwelling place of God and His angels, where virtuous souls receive eternal reward after death, or the celestial paradise where God lives (1 Ki. 8:22-30, Matt. 6:9).

II. Who?

     Who made heaven?  We might assume that God made heaven, but we might also reason that if God is eternal as the Bible says that He is, then there must also be an eternal place for such a being to dwell.  But we do know that God is the one who has prepared this eternal kingdom for His people (Matt. 25:31-34).  However, this raises the question, who will go to heaven?  Not everyone will go to heaven (Matt. 25:41).  The Bible teaches that the righteous, that is, those whose lives are right with God, will receive eternal life in heaven (Matt. 25:46).

III. When?

     When did heaven come into existence?  Again, it may be eternal, but if God created it, we have no idea when He did it.  However, we do remember what Jesus said, that the home for the righteous in God’s kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world, as part of His plan for the redemption of mankind (2 Tim. 1:8-9, Tit. 1:1-2).  When shall we go to heaven?  The Bible teaches that it will be after the second coming of Christ, the resurrection from the dead, the destruction of the physical universe, and the final judgment (1 Thess. 4:16-17, 2 Pet. 3:10-13).

IV. Where?

     The Bible speaks of three heavens, but the first two are physical in nature.  There is the atmosphere where the clouds gather and the birds fly (Ps. 147:7-8, Jer. 4:25). Also there is outer space where the sun, moon and stars are (Gen. 1:14-19).   These are the heavens that Peter says will pass away with a great noise.  However, there is a third heaven (1 Cor. 12:1-2).  It is a spiritual place, so it will not be located in this physical universe, but wherever it is, God and Christ will be there

V. Why?

     Why is Christ preparing us a place in heaven?  The answer is very plain.  It is because He wants us to be with Him eternally (Jn. 14:1-3).  But why should we want to go to heaven?  There are several reasons, one of which is because God and Christ will be there; but there are other reasons too.  It will be a place of reward (Matt. 5:12).  The redeemed of all ages will be there (Matt. 8:10-11).  It will be a place of joy (Matt. 25:21).  And our inheritance is there (1 Pet. 1:3-5).  Who would not want to go to such a place as this?

VI. How?

     The final question is, how do we go to heaven?  We must understand that we cannot earn a home in heaven.  The only way that we can be saved in heaven is by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9).  However, this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for us to do.  To go to heaven, Jesus said that we must do God’s will (Matt. 7:21).  This means obeying the will of Christ to be saved from sin (Heb. 5:8-9).  Furthermore, once we have been saved, it means being faithful (Rev. 2:10).

Conclusion

     “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:3-5).  Heaven is not just wishful thinking about pie in the sky by and by.  It is a promise made by our Creator who has always kept His promises.  Does heaven hold all to you?  If so, then nothing will keep you from obeying the gospel to be saved and living faithfully so that you might meet God’s conditions to receive this eternal home.

     —Taken from Biblical Insights; Feb., 2012; Vol. 12, No. 2; p. 15

Lessons We Can Learn from David

LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM DAVID

By Wayne S. Walker

    David was the greatest king over the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.  Some of his successors followed in his ways but, unfortunately, others did not.  Yet the standard to which each of them was compared was David.  The inspired historian wrote about his great-grandson, Abijah, son of Rehoboam, in 1 Kings 15:1-5.  “In the eighteenth year of King Jehoram the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah.  He reigned three years in Jerusalem.  His mother’s name was Maachah the granddaughter of Abishalom.  And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.  Nevertheless for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”

     Notice that even in reminding us of how good a king David was, the inspired writer felt it necessary to remind us also of the sin that David committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite.  David was a great man, but he was not sinless.  It is interesting that just one mistake, though forgiven, still may haunt a person all the rest of his life and even beyond.  Sometimes people wonder why we should study the Old Testament, since it is not God’s law for us today.  However, Paul said that all scripture, both old and new, is profitable, affirming that the old covenant scriptures were preserved for our learning and contain examples for our admonition.   So, even though he is an Old Testament character, there are some important lessons we can learn from David.

     We learn from David that anyone can sin.  David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14).  There is some debate as to the precise meaning of that phrase in its context, but everyone would agree that the general tenor of David’s life was one of pleasing God.  Yet even such a man can sin.  Without going into great detail, we remember the fact that David lusted after another man’s wife, committed adultery with her, and then had her husband killed to cover it up (2 Sam. 11:2-27).  Yet David is certainly not alone.  Consider some other examples.

     Noah, who by faith saved his family, got drunk (Gen. 9:21).  Abraham, the friend of God, lied about his wife—twice (Gen. 12:10-13, 20:1-2).  Moses, the meekest man on earth, disobeyed God in anger by striking the rock when commanded merely to speak to it (Num. 20:7-12).  Peter, an apostle of Christ, became a hypocrite over the issue of circumcision (Gal. 2:11-12).  And Barnabas, the son of consolation, joined in Peter’s hypocrisy (Gal. 2:13).  The fact is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  This includes you, dear reader, me, and all other responsible human beings except Jesus, who did no sin.  And what makes this such a problem is that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

     The fact is that even Christians sin.  The inspired apostle was writing to saved people, members of the Lord’s church, when he said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).  God does not want us to sin.  He will help us keep from sin.  And we should strive to avoid sin.  Yet, we still sin.  However, when we do sin, while it certainly makes God sad and causes us to be condemned in His sight, all is not necessarily lost.  Why?  Again, we consider the example of David.

     We learn from David that any sin can be forgiven.  We remember the story of Nathan and David, how God sent the prophet to tell the king the story of the little ewe lamb unjustly stolen from the poor man by his rich neighbor, how David in righteous indignation said that such an act was worthy of death, and now Nathan replied, “You are the man” (2 Sam. 12:1-7).   Think about how awful, even in human terms, the sins that David had committed were, things such as adultery and murder.  Yet, when David confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord,” Nathan replied, “The Lord has also put away your sin” (2 Sam. 12:13).   God forgave Him.

     Jesus once made a statement about sin and forgiveness.  “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (Mk. 3:28-29).  This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which never has forgiveness is a source of concern to many.  There are different views on it, but I understand it to refer to a complete rejection of the Spirit’s message by which one continues in sin until death and thus never receives forgiveness.  But the point here is that, apart from that, all other sins can be forgiven.

     The whole idea of the “good news” of the gospel is that salvation from sin is possible by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  After having reminded us that all have sinned, Paul went on to say that we can be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).   Consider the apostle Paul himself.  He was guilty of persecuting the church and even having Christians put to death, yet he wrote, “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Tim. 1:16).  What this says is that no matter what we have done, no matter how bad we think we are, we can be forgiven.  If God could forgive Paul, if God could forgive David, He can forgive you and me.  But is there anything that we have to do?  The answer is yes.

     We learn from David that forgiveness demands true repentance.  When confronted with his sin, David did not try to deny it, or excuse it, or continue to hide it in some way.  He confessed it.  Such a confession is a manifestation of repentance.  The heading of Psalm 51 says, “A Psalm of David when Nathan athe prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”  Just as he had done to Nathan, David again admitted his guilt.  “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (v. 3).  Therefore, he pleads with God, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (v. 7)

     David obviously understood the principle that “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).  It is important to note that both confessing and forsaking are required.  True repentance always leads to forsaking our sin.  Those outside of Christ, who are lost in sin, are told to “repent, and let every one of you  be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  This is because God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

     But what about after we have been saved and still sin?  Christians who sin are told to “repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22).  The saint sin Corinth were told, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).  Sometimes sin needs to be corrected with others, and we are commanded, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed…” (Jas. 5:16).  But it must always be corrected before God.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).  God does not have to forgive us, but He has promised that He will if we have the same kind of attitude of David and respond in the way that He did

     Conclusion.  Again, the example of David shows that anyone can sin.  When we do, the question then becomes, what are we going to do about it?  Are we going to remain in it and even wallow in it?  Or are we going to seek God’s forgiveness in genuine repentance?  The point is, when we sin, we should not give up, but go to God in humble repentance and obedience so that we can receive forgiveness, just as David did.

     —Taken from Faith and Facts Quarterly; July, 2011; Vol. 39, No. 3; pp. 35-42