Have You Lost Your Mind? (A study of Christ’s intolerance toward sin)

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Intolerant Toward Sin

          We know that Jesus was tempted, but lived a sinless life in the flesh (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). He masterfully used the Scriptures to show us how we can defend ourselves against temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). It is clear from an examination of the Scriptures that the Lord was intolerant toward sin in His life. But what about in the lives of others? What was His attitude?
          Read Matthew 9:9-13. To whose house did Jesus go? Who sat at the table to eat with Jesus? What was the reaction of the Pharisees? What was Jesus’ response to their question? Does this mean that Jesus accepted these people in their sin? If not, what does it mean?
          Read John 8:1-12. What was this woman’s sin? By not condemning her right then and there, was the Lord condoning her sinful behavior? What is the force of verse 12 as it relates to sin? Can one follow Jesus and walk in the darkness of sin at the same time (Matthew 6:24)?
          Why did the Son of God come into the world? Read John 3:16-21. It was not Jesus’ purpose to condemn people; His goal, His mission, His desire was to save them. The sinner was already condemned; Christ came to offer salvation from sin. Those who come to Christ must put away their sinful behaviors, because Christ cannot tolerate sin. Read Romans 6:16-18.
          How are we different from Jesus? While we strive to imitate Him and “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” we fall short, don’t we? We mess up, we make mistakes, we commit sin. How can we be intolerant toward another’s sin while we continue to sin ourselves?
          Read Matthew 7:1-5. Does this passage teach that we are never, under any circumstance, permitted to point out sin in a person’s life? If not, what does it teach? We do not have the authority to judge one’s salvation or condemnation. But we do have the ability to discern whether one is living according to the Word by their actions. But before we can effectively help those in spiritual need, we need to take care of our own spiritual condition first.
          Examine ourselves, acknowledge our own sins, confessing and repenting. It is then and only then that we can assist others who are in need. And we do have the responsibility to help those who are in sin.
          Read Galatians 6:1. With what spirit must we approach a brother who has been “overtaken in any trespass”? Why is this necessary? What temptations might we face?
          Read James 5:19-20. Our motivation in helping a brother or sister with spiritual needs is not selfish. Our motivation must be to lead them to salvation, so that they can spend eternity in heaven with God.
          What if the person who is openly sinning refuses to repent? Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-7. These brethren were so “loving” and tolerant that they even allowed this sexually immoral man to fellowship with them. Paul says, “Your glorying is not good.” They should have been intolerant toward the sin, urging the sinner to repent so that he could be saved. And if he still refused to repent? Read 1 Corinthians 5:11. There comes a point when one must draw a line, or risk his own soul. If one who had once obeyed rebels and refuses to repent, we must “not keep company…not even eat with such a person.”
          Jesus, addressing the church of Ephesus, commended them in that they “cannot bear those who are evil” (Rev. 2:2). On the other hand, the church at Pergamos tolerated some who held to the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and they were commanded to repent (2:14-16).
          Society promotes tolerance toward sin. Christ makes it clear that we cannot tolerate sin in our lives, nor can we condone it in the lives of others. Rather than condemning others who are caught up in sinful behaviors, however, we should point them to the truth of God’s Word so that they may experience the grace of God, through an obedient faith.

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09-intolerant-toward-sin.pdf

Have You Lost Your Mind? (A study of Christ’s prayer life)

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Prayerful

          Jesus was humble, forgiving, compassionate, obedient, and holy. He was full of grace, and focused on the Father’s promises rather than the allures of the world. Why? He had an intimate relationship with the Father, even when He left heaven and came to this earth. We can and should develop a similar relationship with our heavenly Father, and we can do it in the same way Christ did—through prayer.
          As we read the accounts of Jesus’ life, we see several things about how He prayed. How often was Jesus engaged in prayer? Read Luke 5:16. Some newer translations omit the word “often” from this passage, but the idea that Jesus prayed frequently is supported throughout the Scriptures. Would it not be a good idea for us today to also pray frequently and persistently? Jesus taught us to be persistent (Luke 18:1). Paul also emphasized the importance of a consistent and persistent prayer life. Read Colossians 4:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
          Another thing we can notice about Jesus’ prayer life is that He often prayed alone. Read Matthew 14:23 and Mark 1:35. What are some of the advantages of praying alone? Read Matthew 6:5-6. What is Jesus teaching about prayer in this passage? Is it sinful to pray in public, or is it the attitude with which one prays that can be sinful?
          Jesus’ prayers were not only done in private, though. Read Luke 9:28. What are some of the benefits of praying with others? We have several examples of first century followers praying with each other. Read Acts 1:13-14; 2:42; 4:23-31; 16:25. It is good and godly to pray with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
          It is important to see that the Lord’s prayers were not selfish in nature, but that He often prayed for other people. Read Mt. 19:13-15 and Jn.17:9, 15, 20-21. Who did Jesus pray for? Who should we pray for today? Read Mt. 5:44 and 1 Tim. 2:1-4.
          What other requests should we make on the behalf of others? Read Ephesians 1:15-18; 3:14-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Philemon 1:6. Paul prayed for their spiritual wisdom, understanding, and growth, and for evangelistic efforts. There is nothing more important than one’s spiritual well-being!
          Is it wrong to pray for physical well-being, as we often do? Read James 5:13-15. We see in this passage that James encourages prayers for physical health and spiritual health.
          Jesus also prayed before important decisions—and those prayers were often very long. Read Luke 6:12-13. How long did He pray? Do we spend that much time in prayer before we make a major life decision? Should we? How often do we fret over our decisions without talking to God? Read Philippians 4:6-7 and James 1:5. We need to talk to God more regularly, and more honestly. We need to approach Him in prayer before we make big decisions, asking for peace and wisdom.
          Does this mean that every prayer will be answered precisely the way we want? Read Matthew 26:39, 42. What was the Lord’s prayer? Read 1 John 5:14-15. How do we know God’s will? If we don’t spend time studying His Word, it is very difficult to pray according to His will.
          Let us notice some additional attitudes that we must have as we approach the Father’s throne.
          — Read Luke 18:9-14. Why was the tax collector exalted? Read James 4:10. Humility is an attribute we must possess as we pray to the Father.
          — Read 1 John 3:21-23. How we treat each other affects our relationship with the Almighty. Read Matt. 5:21-24.
          — Read Philippians 4:6. What do we have to be thankful for? Do we count our blessings and realize that God has given us far more than any of us deserve?
          — Read Hebrews 4:16. Yes, we must be humble and meek, but at the same time confident that God will provide the mercy and grace we need. What is the danger of doubt? Read James 1:6.

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08-prayerful.pdf

Book Review: Dark Journey, Deep Grace: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Story of Faith by Roy Ratcliff with Lindy Adams (2006)

The story of when and how Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized and became a Christian

Dark Journey, Deep Grace: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Story of Faith
by Roy Ratcliff with Lindy Adams
Leafwood Publishing, 2006

The crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer came to light while I was in high school, and I had a morbid curiosity in who he was and what he did. I recall many of the articles and interviews, and also remember hearing about his death in 1994. What I never heard about as a teenager, however, was his conversion to the true faith. It was not until I was involved in full-time ministry about a decade later that I learned that Jeffrey Dahmer obeyed the gospel.

The convicted killer had received correspondence courses from Christians in Oklahoma and Virginia, and after completing the courses, he determined that he needed the blood of Christ to cover his sins. He indicated his desire for baptism. Shortly thereafter, a minister in Wisconsin named Roy Ratcliff was dispatched to see to Mr. Dahmer’s spiritual needs. After discussing the issue with him and determining that he understood the purpose of baptism, and that he was truly remorseful and repentant, brother Ratcliff agreed to baptize Jeffrey Dahmer. He was a man the world saw as a monster, but brother Ratcliff saw him as a lost soul in need of God’s grace.

In the epilogue of his book, Dark Journey, Deep Faith, brother Ratcliff writes, “The greatest thing I learned from Jeff is that he was a person with needs, just like the rest of us. He was just as disturbed about his crimes as everyone else. He had fears and concerns and dreams and hopes as we all do. He was a person, not a monster. He needed God, and when he found God, his life was enriched and blessed.”

I was impressed with brother Ratcliff’s book and the tender way that he dealt with the question posed on the book’s front cover, “Can God forgive even Jeffrey Dahmer?” He met with brother Dahmer weekly for seven months, studying various topics and Bible verses, and sharing stories about their lives. There was no doubt in brother Ratcliff’s mind of brother Dahmer’s sincerity, nor of God’s ability and desire to forgive his sins.

Brother Dahmer expressed some concern about his ability to take the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis, as well as the fact that the chapel services offered at the prison included instrumental music. He said, “Well, I just want to do everything right. I’ve lived my life in the wrong ways long enough. I just want to do what is right as far as God is concerned.” This shows a mature attitude toward God’s Word and the need for obedience to His commands.

From some of the statements brother Ratcliff makes concerning these matters, I imagine he and I have some differing views on the authority of the Scriptures and the prohibitive nature of the Word’s silence on the matter of instrumental music. He addresses the danger of legalism—and I agree that there is a danger, but I do not agree with his particular definition of legalism. That issue aside, however, I get the sense that brother Dahmer understood what Jesus did for him on the cross, and the necessity and purpose of baptism as a response to that. I rejoice that brother Ratcliff was able to see to that need, and made a commitment to study with brother Dahmer on a weekly basis until his death.

Dark Journey, Deep Grace is partly about Jeffrey Dahmer. It is partly about Roy Ratcliff. But more than either of them, it is about the immeasurable grace of God.

Purchase Dark Journey, Deep Grace: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Story of Faith by Roy Ratcliff with Lindy Adams.

Have You Lost Your Mind? (A study of Christ’s holiness)

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Holy

          God the Father repeatedly commanded the children of Israel, “Be holy” (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7). He said, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” The concept of following the example of God is not limited to following the Son, as we are commanded in the New Testament. The Israelites of old were commanded to follow the example of God the Father and to take on His holy attributes as well.
          The word “holy” is defined in several ways in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, including, “pure, sinless, upright, holy,” and, “set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively his.” Jesus is identified as “holy” in the Scriptures (Mark 1:23-24; Luke 1:35; Acts 3:14-15; 4:27-30). Jerusalem was called “the holy city” (Matthew 4:5); inspired men of old were called “holy prophets” (Luke 1:70; 2 Peter 3:2); the celestial beings in heaven are “His holy angels” (Matthew 25:31); Paul writes of “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). And, of course, the third Person of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit.
          As Christians, we are not only expected to be holy, we are commanded to be holy. How important is holiness in the life of a child of God? Read Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 5:8. Just as the Hebrews writer says faith is needed to please God (Hebrews 11:6), in 12:14 he says that holiness is required to “see the Lord.”
          To be holy is to be different from the world. If we are “set apart for God…exclusively his,” then we must lose our minds and take on the mind of Christ. Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. “Not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance.” Those who are raised in the church have a definite advantage, as they are taught from a very young age what is right and wrong. But those outside the faith chase after selfish desires, ignorant of the truth.
          Read 1 Peter 2:4-5; 2:9-10. When the Lord adds a person to His church, He adds them to “a holy priesthood” and “a holy nation.” We repent of sin, turning away from the things that war against God’s will. Your friends are going to think it’s weird that you oppose the things the world openly accepts, whether it is foul language, sexual sins (both the heterosexual and the homosexual variety), alcohol and drug use, and the like; you might be called names, suffer loss of social status, or even physical persecution. Peter says by inspiration that we should expect such things. Read 1 Peter 4:1-4.
          What can we do to help ourselves be holy as God is holy? What do the following Scriptures suggest?
          — Psalm 1:1-2 – be careful where you walk, stand, and sit, and meditate on God’s Word
          — 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 – watch out for temptation, and recognize God’s “way of escape”
          — 1 Corinthians 15:33 – choose your friends wisely
          — 2 Timothy 2:22 – run away from sin and run toward righteousness
          — 1 John 1:9 – recognize our sin, confess it and repent
          — Romans 12:1-2 – commit yourself fully to God’s will
          — Philippians 3:12-16 – be motivated by the goal of heaven
          The more time we spend in the Scriptures, the better equipped we will be to guard against sin and live the holy life God demands. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
          As we go about our lives this week, let us make a concentrated effort to lose our minds, and allow Christ’s attitude of holiness be in us.

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07-holy.pdf

Missed Opportunities

          A twenty-first century poet wrote, “Look, if you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?”
          Regret is not a fun feeling. Many regret past actions, and sinful behaviors should cause a type of regret that leads to repentance and reconciliation with God. With God’s grace and mercy covering our sins, we can move beyond regret to serve Him faithfully, learning from our mistakes and helping others to avoid the same.
          There is another type of regret, however, that is more difficult to move beyond: the regret of not doing something. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” We can allow our missed opportunities to paralyze us, weighing us down with regret, or we can use them as motivation to act the next time God gives us an opportunity.
          The greatest thing you can do for anyone is to teach them about Christ and the salvation He offers. Have you ever missed an opportunity to tell someone about the power of His blood? I have, and I regret it. But I cannot allow that regret to prevent me from grabbing the next chance I have to lead someone to the truth.
          The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). The famous Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei advised, “Stop worrying about missed opportunities and start looking for new ones.” Where will you start looking? Who will you share the gospel with this week?

Have You Lost Your Mind? (A study of Christ’s obedience)

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Obedience

          Read Philippians 2:5-8. What does it mean to obey? Jesus Christ, who said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18), first had to obey the will of the Father. We talked about His humility a few weeks ago, and how that humility led to obedience.
          How important is Christ’s obedience in the grand scheme of things? Read Romans 5:18-19. Without His obedience, what hope would we have? Read Romans 5:6-11.
          “‘Only a divine being can accept death as obedience; for ordinary men it is a necessity!’ The death of Christ was not something inflicted upon the Son of God, but the voluntary laying down of his life for the salvation of people (John 10:17ff); therefore, it was, on the part of Christ, obedience to the Father’s will.” (Coffman, Commentary on Philippians).
          There is nothing that any of us can do in this life that is more important than submitting to and obeying God’s will. But in order to submit to Him, we need to recognize that there are several other authority figures to whom we need to submit. Who are some of those others?
          — husbands [Ephesians 5:22-24; Titus 2:5]
          — parents [Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20]
          — employees [Eph. 6:5-8, Colossians 3:22; Titus 2:9]
          — elders [Hebrews 13:17]
          — government [Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13]
          Is it easy to do this? What can we do to motivate ourselves to be more obedient and submissive to those in authority? Read Ephesians 6:8 again.
          If we can learn to obey those in authority in this world, whether it is authority within the family structure, or in the church, the government, or at work or school, then we can more easily submit to God’s will, knowing the eternal rewards of obeying Him will far exceed those temporary rewards given in this life.
          Read Romans 6:16-18. Every day, we decide who we are going to obey. If we obey the lust of the flesh, then we make ourselves “”slaves…of sin leading to death.” But if we obey the Father, that decision makes us “slaves of righteousness.” Despite the negative connotation that word carries today, we need to recognize that we are all slaves. We are either slaves of sin, or slaves of God.
          Read Galatians 5:16-21. Here is one of the Scriptural lists of sinful behaviors that we must avoid. It is not all-inclusive, but gives us a general idea of the types of activities that displease God. Paul then turns his attention to a more positive list. Read Galatians 5:22-25. We cannot love and hate each other at the same time. We cannot be adulterous and be at peace with our spouses. We cannot be kind and have outbursts of wrath. We cannot experience joy if we are jealous. The works of the flesh are opposed to the fruit of the Spirit. We must decide, will we fulfill the lust of the flesh, or will we walk in the Spirit?
          Read 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. What is the consequence if we choose to disobey God’s will? Do we truly understand what that means? What are the two goals we are striving for? Get to heaven, and take as many people with us as we can. Have you been reaching out to your friends and family that are not members of the Lord’s church?
          Read Hebrews 5:8-9. What are the results of obedience?
          Read Romans 6:1-13. Where does our allegiance lie? How do we demonstrate that allegiance?
          Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Then what happened? Read Philippians 2:9-11. Let us commit to losing our minds, and take on the mind of Christ in obedience to the Father.

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06-submission.pdf

Have You Lost Your Mind? (A study of Christ’s grace)

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Grace

          Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines grace as “good-will, loving-kindness, favor,” adding that it “contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved.” Some have contrasted grace and mercy by saying, “Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, while mercy is not getting what you do deserve.” As sinners, we all deserve eternal death; because of God’s grace, He offers us the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
          How was the grace of Christ brought to man? Read 1 Peter 1:13-15. Because of that grace, which was brought to mankind at the revelation of Christ, how should His creation act? Look at verse 15 again. We should act like God, we should be holy just as He is holy! How do we learn to be holy? Read Titus 2:11-14. Grace does two things according to this passage: (1) it brings salvation, and (2) it teaches us how to live for the Almighty.
          Once a person obeys the gospel, can he then fall from grace? There are denominations that teach it is impossible to fall away: “once you are saved you are always saved.” This is an old Cavlinist false doctrine that can easily be refuted. Read Galatians 1:6-7. What had these Christians done? Read Galatians 5:4. What were Paul’s readers trying to do? And what was the result of their efforts? Clearly, according to the inspired Word of God, it is possible for a child of God to fall from grace. Do not be deceived by the false doctrines of Calvinist denominations.
          Paul speaks of the grace of Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9. He uses this specific example to teach the church at Corinth a lesson about sacrificial giving, which certainly fits the definition of grace that Thayer provided: “good-will, loving-kindness, favor, contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved.” We were, spiritually speaking, impoverished; Jesus, who was rich, made Himself poor, in order to make us rich. We didn’t deserve it, but because of His grace, we can receive it.
          Likewise, physically speaking, just because someone has been afflicted, whether by persecution or natural disaster, that does not necessarily qualify him as “deserving” of monetary assistance. Yet, Paul taught the grace of giving clearly in 2 Corinthians 8:1-12. Christ gave; we should give. And, we should have a proper attitude as we give. Read 2 Corinthians 9:5-8. This is a grace that we are privileged to take part in every week as a part of our worship (1 Corinthians 16:2).
          Author Joseph F. Grizone wrote, “The poor never have enough for themselves…but always have enough to give away.” Brother Warren Vaughn, an elder at the Lehman Avenue church of Christ in Bowling Green, recalled a time that he assisted in a charity drive in middle Tennessee. He said, “In a community of 800, we would go door-to-door on a pre-advertised day. Decades later it is still burned in my memory that the poor and ‘minority’ folks would come to the door with nickels and dimes that they had saved special for that day. Many of the financially well-to-do—guess what—didn’t answer the door.”
          Just as the churches of Macedonia in the first century, in “their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality,” we should look to our own practices and see how we may be more liberal in the grace of giving today.
          Many times, Paul closed his letters to the churches by imparting the grace of Christ to the readers (Romans 16:24; 1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 13:14; etc.). I particularly like how Peter ended his second epistle: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

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05-grace.pdf

Have You Lost Your Mind? (A study of Christ’s compassion)

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Compassion

          The word “compassion” is used 19 times in the New King James version of the New Testament; in the gospels alone, the word is used 14 times. Add to that several instances that Christ’s compassion is shown without employing the actual word. Compassion is an uncommon trait among the human race, but the Lord displayed compassion during His earthly ministry, and it is certainly an attribute that we should emulate as we lose our minds and let His mind be in us.
          Read Matthew 14:13-21. What event immediately precedes this passage? Despite the personal grief Jesus must have felt due to the beheading of John the Baptizer, He had compassion on the multitudes that followed Him. This brings to mind the words of Paul in Philippians 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” In our way of thinking, Jesus certainly could have said, “Leave me alone; I am grieving!” But in His mind, the needs of those who followed Him were of greater importance.
          Read Matthew 15:29-38. For three straight days, people came to Jesus for healing. The Lord told His disciples that His compassion prevented Him from sending all of these people away without eating; He was concerned for their physical well-being.
          What is even more important than physical needs? Read Matthew 9:35-38. Could the phrase “like sheep having no shepherd” describe much of America today, religiously speaking? So many follow false teachers like Joel Osteen, the Pope, and Benny Hinn, becoming more and more confused and spiritually “weary and scattered,” because the things those men teach cannot be found in the Scriptures. Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). They seem innocent, and say things that sound like they might be Biblical, but they are leading people away from the truth, away from the only hope anyone has of salvation.
          What is our attitude toward those who have been misled? Do we think they are stupid, or that they should have known better, or that they will get what they deserve? What is Christ’s attitude toward them? What did Jesus pray for? Are we doing our part to see that prayer answered today?
          We all have friends that are not members of the Lord’s church. What are we doing to teach them? Sadly, we also have friends that have fallen away from the faith. What are we doing to reach them? Can you think of anyone who used to sit on the same pew, or in the seat next to you in class, that is now fellowshipping with ungodly denominationalists? Or perhaps they have rejected all forms of “Christian” worship in favor of a deviant lifestyle that is condemned by God’s Word? Have you tried to talk to them about their soul?
          What is the Father’s reaction when one of His children comes home? Read Luke 15:11-24. When a person is separated from God, he is dead; when he repents, the Lord welcomes him back and celebrates and makes him alive again. God doesn’t say, “You should have known better!” He shows compassion for His lost children, rejoicing with the decision to make things right.
          “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). Is this not the ultimate goal of true compassion? It is good to meet the physical needs, and we should look for opportunities to do so (Galatians 6:10), but if spiritual needs are neglected, we have fallen short.
          “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8). Coffman writes, “This love is designed to knit the Christian community into a unit having ‘likemindedness,’ having for all of its members a loving, compassionate tenderheartedness, free from the selfishness and self-centeredness which are the distress of the unregenerated; that is why ‘humble-mindedness’ is a prerequisite of all who would participate in such a society.”

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04-compassion.pdf

Fairweather Followers

The Oakland A’s were the best team in baseball in 1972, defeating the Reds four games to three in the World Series. Returning to the airport in Oakland after the deciding game in Cincinnati, the team was greeted by a throng of adoring “fans.” The players, however, said it was the first time some of them had seen the team in person. Third baseman Sal Bando said, “It was a madhouse. You couldn’t walk through the place. The fans were hysterical. We wondered where they came from, because they’d never been at the ballpark.”

How will Christ react to His many adoring “followers” when He returns? Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Oakland’s attendance in 1972 was just under one million, 14th among the 24 major league teams. A championship team should not be in the bottom half in attendance, but it seems that the people of Oakland just didn’t expect the A’s to continue winning.

“Fairweather fans” will root with all their might when their team is winning, but switch allegiance as soon as there is trouble on the field. Sadly, the same is true in many congregations. “Fairweather followers” will never miss a worship service while they agree with the elders and preachers, but as soon as they feel someone stepping on their toes, their fidelity falters. Their attendance slips, they miss opportunities for fellowship, and may even start badmouthing the church to their friends.

When things aren’t going well, when temptations hit harder, when we feel all alone—that’s when we need the church the most. Work on developing a faith like those in Hebrews 11; don’t be a “fairweather follower.”

Many Antichrists Have Come

1 John 2:18-29

I. THE ANTICHRISTS

    A. Who is an Antichrist? (1 John 2:18; 2 John 9-11)
    B. What does an Antichrist do?

      1. Disobeys (1 John 2:19)
      2. Denies (1 John 2:22-23; John 5:22-23)
      3. Deceives (1 John 2:26; 4:1; Acts 17:11; 20:29-30)

II. THE ANOINTED

    A. Word play: anti-christoi (1 John 2:18) vs. christoi (1 John 2:20)
    B. Abide in the truth (1 John 2:24; Luke 12:8-9; Acts 2:42)
    C. Abide in the Son and the Father (1 John 2:24-25; Mark 10:29-30)

III. THE ASSURANCE

    A. What does inspiration teach? (1 John 2:27; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
    B. Confidence at His coming (1 John 2:28; Acts 4:13)

      1. Prayer of Peter and John (Acts 4:29)
      2. Prayer of Paul (Ephesians 6:18-19)

    C. Roy H. Lanier, Jr.: “As the father in the family is righteous, so are the children. It is a family characteristic.” (1 John 2:29; 2 Timothy 2:11-13)