THE CONSTRAINT OF
by David Lemmons
Regarding our work together for the Lord, what is it that can bring about greater dividends than commendation? Can you think of anything? Do you practice this activity enough? Do you search for ways to commend others in a genuine and sincere way (flattery is a form of deception and is not under consideration here)? What does the Bible have to say about such?
The Bible is simply filled with complimentary commendation of those who are faithful and obedient to the will of the Lord! Consider Hebrews chapter eleven. It would seem to me that our lives ought also to be richly filled with similar expressions to worthy ones.
Surely our Lord’s commendation of that one responsible for His pre-burial anointing at Bethany helps us to focus in on the value of words of commendation. This woman was criticized sharply by the disciples, saying, “To what purpose is this waste?” (Mt 26:8). If John 12 is the parallel of this text, Judas Iscariot had even calculated how much the ointment might be sold for to help the poor, not that he cared for the poor (Jn 12:5,6). Jesus, knowing the heart of this godly woman, responded to their ill treatment of her by saying, “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me” (Mt 26:10). But then, Jesus goes even further to lift the spirits of this precious one by saying in verse 13–Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. Can you imagine the turnaround of feelings felt here? At first attacked in front of her Lord by His own apostles and then commended highly. Of the two positions, “criticizer” or “commender,” where do I most often find myself?
Jesus often took the role of the Great Commender: (a) the Canaanite woman, Mt 15:28; (b) the confession of Peter, Mt 16:17-18; (c) a poor widow, Luke 21:3.
In the title of this article appears the word, “constraint.” In using this word, I use it in the sense of a secondary definition: The state of being restricted or confined within prescribed bounds [American Heritage Dictionary]. This usage is the same sense in which the Apostle Paul felt “constrained” by the love of Christ (2 Cor 5:14). It was the love of Christ that motivated (confined or restricted) Paul regarding his relationship with the Corinthian saints. It is my strong belief, based upon my study of the Scriptures (i.e., the prescribed bounds), that Christians ought to feel restricted or confined into the position of often commending the good to be seen in fellow Christians.
It has always been a source of wonder to me how many folks seem to want to build up themselves by tearing down the good work of others. This is surely a device of Satan and causes untold harm within the body of Christ. I heard Kate Richardson recently talking about being so ill that she would consider even taking a dose of castor oil. Having tasted that nasty stuff myself, I judged she was feeling extremely bad to make such statement. In a related way, how helpful “a good dose of the constraint of commendation” would provide some brethren.
If we briefly survey the epistles of Paul, noting only the greeting section, it becomes immediately obvious that Paul was quite familiar with the constraint of commendation. With the exception of the letter to the Galatians (with good reason), his introductory words are framed with commendation of good deeds and qualities. There ought be no surprise in this finding in that he lists among the numerous physical tortures accompanying his ministry the “care of all the churches” (2 Cor 11:28). Further is this emphasized in his statement when he points out this care of all the churches was a DAILY one. Can we not deduce from the combination of these two observations that one of the ways we can manifest our own care and concern for the church is to be involved in the same type of commendation?
The “Wisdom Book of our New Testament,” the Book of James, speaks of an inconsistent use of the tongue which should challenge us to follow more completely the constraint of commendation. Consider his inspired warning…”9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:9-11). A more consistent use of our tongues will be a wonderful and sweet result from the constraint of commendation. As we commend more, we will judge censoriously less (Mt 7:1-5). Those around us inevitably will observe this as a nice change, especially if we have, in time past, been a great nagger.
I think if you CLICK anywhere on the puzzle below it should open in a new window and you can then print it out to work out the solution. Before hitting the print button, scale it to 125%, and you should have the whole puzzle on one sheet large enough to write in the solution. The solution can be seen by clicking H-E-R-E. Another version of the same puzzle is online H-E-R-E.
David Lipscomb University and the Christian Scholars Conference
By WAYNE JACKSON
September 16, 2008
The Christian Scholars Conference CSC convened in June, 2008 on the campus of David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. With support from several sister schools, e.g., Pepperdine University, Abilene Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University, and Harding University, it was the twenty-eighth annual gathering of some of the most radically liberal, self-designated “scholars” on the planet. There were dozens of presentations all of which were characterized as “high quality” productions, delivered by both men and women, representing sixty-eight colleges and universities, along with twenty-four additional institutions.
The conference was a heterogeneous blend of sectarian personalities all of whom were identified as “Christian”, combined with a conglomerate of digressives who have surrendered virtually every vestige of interest in the restoration of New Testament religion. “Restorationism” is not merely ignored, it is repudiated emphatically.
One of the finest bulletins I receive in my mailbox is the one from the fine church at Southaven, MS. Wade Webster is the talented preacher for this great church. I just posted an article from his August 24th bulletin, but I feel like I need to post the latest article I received as well.
Leaving Denominationalism Behind
by Wade Webster
Today, the world is filled with denominations, sects, and other unauthorized religious bodies. it is sad that these man-made institutions are confusing and condemning those that believe their damnable doctrines. Occasionally, an honest soul entrapped in denominationalism will see the truth, obey it, and be added by the Lord to the one church which is found in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:4; Acts 2:47). Certainly, it requires a sincere person to walk away from a man-made institution and turn to the only church which was built by the Lord and purchased with His blood (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28). Let’s notice some of the things required of those leaving denominations.
First, a person must be willing to SEE the truth.
Unless a person is willing to see the things that God has said in His word, he will never leave a denomination. The Jews are a good example of those who were not willing to see the truth. Even though they had the Old Testament prophesies of Christ, had seen the miracles that He worked, and had heard the authority with which He spoke, they rejected Him as the Son of God. They were not willing to see the truth. Jesus said of them, “…this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them (Matthew 13:15; Acts 28:27). Many today, like the Jews, are unwilling to see the truth of God’s word. The devil has blinded “the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinthians 4:4). May all men be as willing to see the truth as those 3,000 precious souls who responded in humble obedience on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36-41).
Second, a person must be willing to SUBMIT to the truth.
It is of no benefit for a person to see the truth, if he is not willing to act on the truth. Sadly, the Bible is filled with examples of those who clearly saw the truth but were unwilling to submit to it. For example, the rich young ruler that asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life was unwilling to submit to what Jesus told him to do. We read, “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22). King Agrippa is another classic example of a person who saw the truth, but was unwilling to submit to it. Luke records, “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27-28). Paul was certain that King Agrippa could see the truth. The problem was not that Agrippa didn’t see the truth, but rather that he was not willing to submit to it. The account of Felix is another good example of a man who saw the truth but was unwilling to submit to it. Luke records that as Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 26:28). The trembling of Felix clearly reveals that Felix could see the truth. Likewise, many people within denominational bodies can see the truth but because of pride, pressure, or popularity are unwilling to submit to it.
Third, a person must be willing to SUFFER for truth.
Those leaving denominations must be willing to suffer the ridicule and persecution of those still entrapped in error (Galatians 4:16). Sadly, many people who know the truth are not willing to suffer for it. The Bible records many examples of those unwilling to suffer for the truth. For example, John records that the parents of a young man healed by Jesus refused to admit to the miracle for fear of the Jews. We read, “His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue” (John 9:20-22). Later, John recorded that “among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). These chief rulers knew that Christ was the Son of God, but were unwilling to confess it and follow Him. No doubt, many today clearly see the truth but are unwilling to suffer the persecution of friends and family members who have not yet submitted to the truth.
We must always strive to teach the truth to those enslaved in religious error. While many will not believe the word of God, a few who are willing to see the truth, submit themselves to the truth, and suffer for the truth will leave man-made institutions and seek refuge in the kingdom of the Lord.