A Donkey Demonstrates Obedience
Balaam stands in disgrace as the model of apostasy. His desire for lust, power and wealth lured him to act in opposition to the will of the Almighty God. God admonished Balaam through an obedient, talking donkey. Peter wrote of the story of Balaam in 2 Peter 2:15-16. He wrote, "Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet." The story of Balaam is a very strange story, but it is true. It occupies three chapters (Numbers 22-24) and a number of other Bible mentions. Balak, king of Moab called upon the services of Balaam to put a curse upon the Israelites so as to stop their progress.
Let us observe some of the facts of this bizarre account:
Getting to know Balaam: The children of Israel pitched their tents in the plains of Moab near Jericho. Balak was King of Moab. His people heard how many Israelites there were and what they had done to the Amorites. They were afraid. So King Balak sent a message to Balaam son of Beor to come and place a curse on Israelites? Balak told Balaam that "anyone you bless will be successful, but anyone you curse will fail." The leaders of Moab and Midian went to Balaam with the message and they took money to pay him for his work. God's message to Balaam was "Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed."
At first Balaam refused to go with these people. The second time they came, Balaam said he could not go even for a house full of silver and gold. It sounds like he was naming his price. God told him to go but to do only what He said to do. So Balaam got up the next morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. God was angry that Balaam had gone, so one of the Lord's angels stood in the road to block his way. The donkey saw the anger standing there with the sword, but Balaam did not see it. So the donkey went off the road into an open field. Balaam beat the donkey to get it back on the road. Next the angel stood in a path of the vineyards between two walls. When the donkey saw the angel, it walked so close to one of the walls that it crushed Balaam's foot against the wall and he smote her again. The angel then moved once more and stood in a spot so narrow that there was no room for the donkey to go around. So she just lay down. Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
In a most amazing moment God caused Balaam's donkey to talk and it did not seem to shake the disobedient prophet at all. The donkey asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that made you beat me three times?" Balaam responded "Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee." The donkey told Balaam that he was her owner and that he had ridden upon her many times. They donkey asked Balaam if she had ever done anything like that and Balaam said, "No." Then the Lord allowed Balaam to see the angel standing in the road, holding a sword, and Balaam bowed down, realizing that the donkey had saved his life. Balaam went to Balak and said, "I will say only what God tells me to say."
Through this Biblical account we observe that Balaam did some things right. At first Balaam listened to God. Balaam said to Balak's officials, “Go on back home. The Lord says I cannot go with you." He refused to do or say anything that God did not approve. On Balak's second attempt Balaam said, "Even if Balak offered me a palace full of silver or gold, I wouldn't do anything to disobey the LORD my God." He said, "Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Ram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied...Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!" (Numbers 23:7-10) It is always right to be righteous and to only do and say what God desires.
Through this Biblical account we observe that Balaam did some things wrong. In fact he was so wrong that "God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him..."(Numbers 22:22) Moses said the counsel of Balaam caused Israel to "commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord." (Numbers 31:14-16) The work of Balaam caused the children of Israel to sin and to suffer a terrible plague. Jesus recalled how Balaam "Kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel by causing them to eat food that had been offered to idols and to commit sexual immorality." (Revelation 2:14) Balaam could have helped the Moabites and others to "turn to God from idols, to serve the living and true God." (1Thessalonians 1:9) However Balaam failed miserably as a prophet. He wanted to curse God's people in order to obtain the money offered to him by Balak. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10) He loved money more than he love truth and righteousness. He "loved the wages of unrighteousness." (2 Peter 2:15-16) Balaam later conceived of a way to destroy Israel. Beautiful Moabite women were sent into the camp of Israel. They went there to lead Israel into sexual sins and once that was accomplished the women would led the men of Israel to worship Baal. (2 Peter 2:14-16) Balaam knew what pleased the Lord, but obeying the Lord did not please Balaam.
Through this Biblical account we observe how God dealt with Balaam. God was very specific in telling Balaam what to do. "And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed." (Numbers 22:12) God gave Balaam the unmistakable sign of the talking donkey and the angel that he was in serious danger if he disobeyed. (Numbers 22:21-35) Even the donkey had better sense than Balaam. God was patient and longsuffering with Balaam as he kept associating with Balak and trying to get money for cursing God's people. (Numbers 24:10-13) Balaam tired to cure Israel but each time God turned the curse into a blessing. He tried three times from three different locations but he was able only to pronounce blessing on Israel and not a curse. Balak was upset he did not pay him the money that Balaam thought he would receive. Balaam's wicked counsel led to many in Israel being punished with death. (Numbers 31:14-18) Balaam was so overcome by worldliness that his values did not reflect the righteousness of God. He knew what God expected but he tried to find happiness in the world.
Through this Biblical account we observe the end of Balaam's life. Balaam was remembered in Joshua's farewell speech. "Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. (Joshua 24:8-10) Jude wrote, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." (Jude 1:11) Finally a sad and misdirected life came to an end as Balaam was killed in the days of Joshua. "Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them." (Joshua 13:22) Balaam failed to obey God. What a waste!
The importance of obedience cannot be stressed too much. Peter wrote, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17) Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Those that become children of God have reason to rejoice. (Acts 8:39) The obedient can rejoice because Jesus is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." (Hebrews 5:8-9)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA.
What Did Jesus Mean When He Said...?
The Bible accurately teaches that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. (Acts 8:37) At His baptism God acknowledged Him as His Son. "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) This was also the case on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured and spoke with Moses and Elijah. "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." (Matthew 17:5) Peter was correct when he confessed, "We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:69) Let us be convinced from scripture that Jesus is the Son of God. There can be no doubt that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected exactly as the Bible says. Jesus was in the beginning with God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) He came to earth to make our salvation possible. "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38) The Bible reveals many facts about Jesus that should cause us to love and appreciate Him. One of the amazing facts about Jesus was the authority with which He spoke. When Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount "the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:28-29) What did Jesus mean when He said...?
"The Church" or Denominations?
The church of the New Testament is not denominational. In the first century there was only one church. No denominations existed at that time. It is just this simple, from about AD 33 forward for many years denominations did not exist but the church of Christ existed. The undenominational church of Christ is produced when the gospel of Christ is obeyed. "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18) As people obeyed this pure gospel of Christ they were saved and added by the Lord to His church. The New Testament church and denominational churches are far different from one another in origin, purpose, mission, and destiny.
Denominations were planned by men; the church of Christ was planned by God and Christ. We read, "To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:10-11) God planned the church in such a way as to have unity. Unity is possible when "All speak the same thing." (1 Corinthians 1:10) Denominations promote division instead of unity. The church of Christ promotes unity!
Denominations exist without blood; the church of Christ was purchased with Christ’s blood. To the elders from the church of Ephesus God said, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28) Christ and His church cannot be separated because His blood purchased His church. Therefore, His church is as valuable as His blood. Those that reject the church of Christ do not recognize the connection between the church of Christ and the blood of Christ. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Denominations do not recognize Christ as head of the church, the church of Christ lifts up Jesus as head. Denominations have their heads and headquarters in different places around the world. Jesus is the head of the church of Christ. "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18) Neither the Pope nor anyone else can claim headship over the church. Jesus is head. He is king over His kingdom. Christians are citizens in the kingdom and thus must respect Christ's law. Denominations do not respect Christ as head because they do not respect His law. Christ, the Head instructs His body, the church concerning what to believe, teach and do.
Denominations do not teach God’s plan of salvation, the church of Christ teaches the gospel plan of salvation. Denominations teach people to go to an altar and pray for salvation, pray the sinner’s prayer, or to just accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. They do not tell sinners to hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized into Christ to wash away sins. (Romans 6:3-5) Denominations never tell people what Peter told the people on Pentecost. "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) The church of Christ encourages gospel obedience. (Acts 2:36-41)
God has blessed us with the great privilege of being a part of the blood bought, God planned, heaven promised church. Jesus gave the world His church before and without denominationalism. Let's go back to the Bible, back to New Testament Christianity, back to the Bible church. You can be just a Christian! It is a great blessing to be a member of the undenominational church of Christ.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA
"How Does One Obey the Gospel?"
Why did Jesus die? Why was Jesus buried? Why did Jesus rise again?
Because of our sins!!!
1 Corinthians 15:1-3: Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, v. 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. v. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, v. 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
This is the essence of the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ!
Why are WE baptized?
Because of our sins!!!
Rom 6:1-3 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? v. 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? v. 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Why are WE buried in baptism?
Rom 6:4a Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death,
Why are WE raised from baptism?
Rom 6:4b-9: …that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. v. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, v. 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. v. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. v. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, v. 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
We must obey the Gospel or be lost!
2 Thess. 1:7-9: and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, v. 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. v. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
So then, obey the Gospel today, before it is too late!!!
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "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 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
By Mark Henderson, Austinville Church of Christ, 2833 Danville Road SW, Decatur, AL 35603
"For the Remission of Sins"
"Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins'..." Acts 2:38 (NKJV)
Some contend that the phrase "for the remission of sins" here means because the sins have already been remitted, which means dismissed, or forgiven. Many believe that their sins were previously forgiven, and now because of this, they are baptized.
But is that what this passage means?
Let's consider another verse, where Jesus says:
"For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)
Why did Jesus have to shed His blood? Did He shed it in order for sins to be forgiven, or because sins had already been forgiven?
We read that:
"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins." Hebrews 10:4 (NKJV)
"and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood," Revelation 1:5 (NKJV)
So we find that it was necessary that Jesus die and shed His blood in order for sins to be forgiven.
The phrase "for the remission of sins" in Matthew 26:28 in the Greek is exactly the same as is found in Acts 2:38. If Matthew 26:28 means Jesus shed His blood in order for, from that time forward, sins to be remitted, then Acts 2:38 must mean the very same thing. One must repent and be baptized in order for, from that time forward, one's sins to be forgiven.
Any other interpretation than this makes the clear meaning of one passage of scripture disagree with another.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God - Proven By Prophecy
There are over 330 prophecies given in the Old Testament regarding the coming Messiah, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
To be valid, a prophecy must be:
(1) Far removed in time from the fulfillment.
(2) Given in such detail there can be no mistake when fulfilled.
(3) Given by a plausible prophet, or foreteller.
(4) Fulfilled definitively and without question.
A very few examples that meet the above requirements:
Micah 5:2, fulfilled in Mat. 2:6
Hosea 11:1, fulfilled in Mat. 2:15
Jeremiah 31:15, fulfilled in Mat. 2:17-18
Joel 2:28-32, fulfilled in Acts 2:16-24
These and many more are given in God's word to us, to prove to us and make us to believe (John 20:30-31) that Jesus was the prophecied and the true "very Christ" (Acts 9:22).
Some claim that Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate, and other Biblical figures have no basis in fact. But consider the testimony of Tacitus, Roman senator who wrote a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius (AD 14) through Nero (AD68). Called the Annals of Tacitus, his final work is considered by modern historians "the pinnacle of Roman historical writing". Clearly he had no sympathetic view of Christianity, but observe the historical facts he records (The Annals of Tacitus, Book XV, Section 44):
"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular."
Plan of Salvation App-The Big Green 'Go' Button
Check out the 'Plan of Salvation' App for Android, Iphone, and Ipad by Tony Edwards of the Church of Christ at Main Street, Adamsville, AL. It's a ready reference guide to reaching and saving souls that will always be with you wherever you carry your phone. It has lots of great material, charts, and information helpful for personal teaching.