THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR ACTIONS! by Earl Sutton

 

In 1996 a grain ship, “Bright Field,” was heading down the Mississippi River near New Orleans, when it lost control, veered toward the shore and crashed into a riverside shopping mall. The impact demolished parts of the wharf and injured 116 people. According to the Coast Guard investigation, the ship’s owner and crew had failed to repair long-standing engine problems. This is a clear example of not doing what you should do and receiving the consequences of bad decisions.

            The Devil deceived Eve into thinking that there would be no consequences for eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:1-7). God said, “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, ye shall not eat of it lest ye die” (v.3) The Devil said, “Ye shall not surely die.” (v.4) Eve dilly-dallied with the temptation and contemplated the possibilities that the Devil had suggested and threw away all restrain and ate the fruit!  Why?  The Devil deceived her into thinking that there would be no consequences for sin.

            The Devil continues to lie to us today and tells our society that a little sin won’t hurt, a little indulgence is not a problem, a little transgression will never hurt anybody! The Devil tells us that we are only human and go ahead and enjoy sin. The Bible says, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” ( Prov. 13:15)

            Our society believes that it can live in disobedience to God’s will by practicing homosexuality and never suffer the consequences. The scriptures teach that there will be consequences for our actions. “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth unto the spirit shall of the spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8) This basic principle applies to the physical world and spiritual realm as well. The word, “mocked” is a Greek word (mukterizete:) which means to turn one’s nose up at God. The point is that if a person sows to the flesh (homosexuality and sinful living) and turns up his nose at God, he shall go the way of all flesh, -- die and face the judgment of God where there will be consequences. (reap destruction – Gal. 6:8)

The scriptures emphasize the consequences of sin in other verses. Ezekiel said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ez. 18:4) Paul said, “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23)  Over and over, again and again, the Bible under all circumstances, emphasizes that we reap what we sow and that sin is always followed by consequences.

            There is rebellion in the hearts and in the behavior of many people in our society today. In view of the fact that sin will always have consequences, what can we predict for the future? According to the basic law of sowing and reaping, the answer can best be given in the words of the prophet Hosea, “They sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hos. 8:7) There is one time of sowing (while alive), and there will be two times of reaping. We reap in this life and also reap beyond this life in the hereafter. Sin brings forth its consequences both here and hereafter.

            People may do things without realizing the consequences of their actions, but one day there is going to be an accounting! (Rev. 21:8)                                                                                                                                                                                           

APPOINTING ELDERS NOT OPTIONAL by Earl Sutton

 

If we are interested in pleasing God and being acceptable to Him, doing His will is never an optional matter. The Lord leaves no doubt about the matter of having elders in every church to oversee it. The inspired record says that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in “every church” on their first missionary journey (Acts 14:23), and Paul left Titus in Crete for the same purpose (Titus 1:5).

            Should the organization of the church today be exactly as it was in New Testament days? There are many congregations of the Lord’s church in our county that do not have elders and have not made any serious effort to appoint them as taught in I Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and I Peter 5:1-4.

            God wisely planned for church government to be congregational in form with elders so that each congregation could tend to its own business. Also, God gave elders the responsibility and the authority to decide matters of expediency for the local congregation--  and not business meetings. Obviously in matters of faith and doctrine, every church must conform to the Bible.

            Some congregations, for various reasons, have decided that they can get along better without elders. Some say, “A business meeting with everyone having an equal voice, is a better way to keep the peace and get things done.” The truth is, this is unscriptural, and the business of the church cannot be effectively managed. Others may say, “We have qualified men to serve as elders, but they have no leadership skills.” My response would be that one can be trained and does not have to be a Christian for a long length of time before he can become an elder if he fits the qualifications. The fact that elders must not be a novice indicates some length of time, but within a 5-10 year period is reasonable.

            When congregations put “men’s business meetings” as being more important than appointing elders, it begs the question, “Why are God’s rules so important?” The main reason for having elders in the local church is simply that God said to do so!

            We can never claim to obey God if we reject baptism as the means of entering into Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). We can never claim to obey God if we reject the Bible as being God’s word    (II Tim. 3:16; I Thess. 2:13).  And in exactly the same way, we cannot claim to obey God if we reject His teaching with regard to appointing elders in the local congregation.

            There may be a period of time when no man is qualified to be an elder, but even in such a case, there should be a plan in place to prepare men to become elders within a 5-10 year period of time. Churches of Christ existed for a while in the days of the apostles without elders. But when Paul and Barnabas returned from their first missionary journey, “They appointed for them elders in every church” (Acts 14:23). Some of these churches had been in existence for 2-6 years without elders. But we clearly see that it is God’s plan that each Church of Christ have elders: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge” (Titus 1:5).

            If members of a local congregation decide that they just don’t want elders, and fail to prepare qualified men for that godly work, this could lead to that church being unscriptural. We must remember that substituting business meetings for elders is a form of disobedience. The idea that something else for what God has commanded will do as well is a fatal idea, as Cain found out the hard way (Gen. 4:3).

            The Lord planned the church, and He knows the best way for it to work and be managed. Let us accept His way!