The first lesson for us here is that we are all "one body," "members one of another," but not all with the same office. One does not become "in Christ" by being an officer of the church, so the pastor is not advantaged over the members by his office, but we all are members so that we hold a responsibility to each other. The church, then, is not a step toward acceptance in itself, not intended to gain a benefit by virtue of membership. It is a means which grace has provided for the encouragement of all in that we are there to help each other and support or hold up the weaker and enjoy the strength of the strong.
I have a Bible Program in my computer. It has a number
of commentators who give their opinions on every verse.
At times this may help, specially as they give geography
and history, but just about every single one of them
is affected by his view of the church. It does make
a difference if one holds the idea of a local body,
the body of Christ, and is governed by the Spirit in
Nearly all commentators believe that "all the saved"
make up the church and that it began on Pentecost next
after the resurrection of Christ. In other words, they
do not believe that Christ formed the church during
His personal ministry, as Missionary Baptists do. They
argue that the church, in the gospels, is referred to
as a future prospect, arguing that if it was a church
it did not have any power because the Holy Spirit had
not been given until that Pentecost.
Missionary Baptists counter this argument by reminding
all that Jesus was the power, the authority with them,
reminding them that He had been with them, and promised
to send them the Comforter (that is, the authority with
the power) as a testimony of His presence in heaven
and as a reminder of those things He had taught them.
To illustrate how this worked, even before his crucifixion,
we are told (1Co 12:28):
"And God hath set some in
the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly
teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings,
helps, governments, diversities of tongues."
Here are named several items which God set in the
church. It seems to me that most of these were already
set in the church by Christ (Mt. 10:1-2; Lk. 10:9) before
his death. The order named (1Cor. 12:28) is certainly
"But unto every one of us
is given grace according to the measure of the gift
of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up
on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto
men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he
also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended
up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for
the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all
come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge
of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure
of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we
henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight
of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in
wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into him in all things, which is the head,
even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined
together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,
according to the effectual working in the measure of
every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying
of itself in love."
This lengthy quotation gives us a detailed description of much that the Gospel was designed to do for every man. We sometimes summarize it quickly as that Jesus came, died for sinners, was buried, and rose again. Yes, He did that, but here in Ephesians we see an enhanced description of how His love performed toward all men. It was not only to enable each one to be initially saved, but goes on to describe that state of heart and life which our being "in Him" is designed to produce. May we run down through the verses, Ephesians 4:7-16):
The statement begins with the statement that God's giving His Son, was "according to the measure of the gift of Christ." Dare we circumscribe that gift, as God gave His "only begotten Son"? God gave His best and this expresses His grace in an unstinting fashion. Read slowly that list from Ephesians 4:8-16. Before we recount some of those things, look at 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, then 1 Corinthians 12:28-30. Then in Ephesians 3:8 Paul reminds us that he was the least of all the saints, but that His ministry was an expression of that gift to him to preach among the Gentiles the "unsearchable
riches of Christ." He says further (2 Corinthians 6:1):
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
Here we insert a further admonition from Peter: (1 Peter 4:10)
"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Just here we need a further admonition from Paul(Romans 12:3);
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
In 2 Corinthians 10:11-15 is a final instruction:
"But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly." (Ephesians 4:8-10)
Paul, the writer to the Ephesians, quotes from the Old Testament. Very little of the New Testament had yet been written, We wonder what he meant to say, since he is quoting from Psalm 68:28. Going back there we realize the reference is to God. The context in Ephesians means to convey the idea that the Christ is the one ascending and His authority is God's authority. As in the original, His Father was setting him over all the works of his hands. Yes, His authority is to administer the will of God in the church today. When He returns as the Messiah He will manifest that authority over all men and all creation. While Paul stops short of the complete quotation from the Psalm I am confident that He had that authority while he was in the flesh, so that His choice of apostles was approved of the Father, as his miracles, His obedience in every aspect.
In the quotations which New Testament writers use from the Old Testament,
since we are not as familiar with the Old as with the New, sometimes
we fail to make the connection. The inspired writer knew that the Scriptures
are for all men in every age. Paul obviously applied this passage from
the Psalm to the New Testament ascension of Christ. It did apply to
God in the Old. This is not inconsistent. It rather enhances the words
for us who have the later record from the New. "(He that descended
is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that
he might fill all things.) familiar
Eph 4:9-10. See if this quotation sounds and makes good sense. It is
in my computer Bible, and is called:
if it does not speak to your heart: It's true, is it not, that the
One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth?
10 And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up
to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven
with his gifts, 11 filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts
of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher 12 to train Christians
in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church,
13 until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other,
efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults,
fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. 14 No
prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the
woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. 15 God wants
us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in lovelike Christ
in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything
we do. 16 He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and
blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy
in God, robust in love" (Ephesians 4:9-16).
copy these words from the paraphrased Bible, called The Message.
It was written with Introductions to every book, contains the whole
Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson. It is called The Message REMIX, the Bible
in Contemporary Language, published by NavPress, P. O. Box 35001, Colorado
Springs, CO 80935.
I enjoy reading this version, even though not a regular translation,
for it speaks to the heart. Many of my members have bought a board
bound copy, but I do not preach from it. The KJV is old and I have
used it since I was saved in 1934, so am familiar with the words and
the sense, but I keep learning as I go along. The Message is
largely the work of one man, but there was an editorial board who worked
with him. The KJV will never be replaced, but it is a blessing to read,
even in the middle of the night. (E.B.).
we consider that last verse again. The KJV is not difficult. Its language
portrays the church as a properly designed building with every part
plainly joined together. Obviously there was an Architect. That word
"compacted" strikes a note of harmony. The paraphrase gently suggests
that these members are "one with Christ, His blood and life flowing
through each." We surely believe this is God's intention for the body
of Christ. The next two verses (17-18) contrast the Gentiles outside,
in the dark because of heart-blindness. Does this not show up even
in some who are baptized but who have neglected to "grow up in Him"?
This description, while the writer, Paul, does not shame these outsiders,
he shows that there must be a change in the mind. That lack of oneness
must not be allowed. "Uncleanness is easily understood, but he is not
speaking of the kind that soap and water will cleanse. That other word,
"greediness" makes it plain that it is the result of impure motives,
lust, all those things which Satan makes to appear desireable, but
which destroy every vestige of spiritual life. Surely we can see (v.
17) that it is a wilful situation which the natural man can allow,
though he may have professed to trusting Jesus. The implication that
it is only in outsiders is a way of shaming those who have professed
faith, but who have not chosen to leave the world completely.
20 the inspired writer makes it plain that he is not talking about
those who are outside the church, but those who not only have trusted
Him but have openly identified with Him. This aspect of understanding
Christ is the whole point in repudiating just any baptism, for it is
in baptism that we are taught that one must die, put off the old man,
put on Christ as in the resurrection of Christ. See the reason for
Paul's question to those in Ephesis: "Have ye received the Holy
Ghost since ye believed?" (Acts 19:2). When they said they did
not, then he asked another question: "Unto what then were ye baptized?"
to whom he wrote the book we are studying (Ephesians) doubtless included
some or all of these same believers who were then baptized when they
learned that just calling it John"s baptism was not enough identification.
I would say that its being "Baptist" baptism is not enough either,
unless it was like John's preaching who insisted that his was a "baptism
of repentance," meaning that they must be taught that we are sinners,
a change of the lifestyle and a continuing faith in Jesus is called
for in Scriptural baptism (Acts. 19:4). These disciples then received
Scriptual baptism (Acts 19:5) and were soon caused to receive the promised
Holy Spirit (Comforter) promised by Jesus. Yes, it is a learning experience,
one which shows up in the life thereafter, and if it does not there
is some fault in their baptism.
"learning Christ" includes their being taught "the truth as it is in
Jesus" (Eph. 4:21). The next verse explains this to mean they must
put off the old man which is what corrupts or defiles the newly baptized
when he has not followed through so as to be made new in his mind.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit. It makes the Word effectual in
a believer. It is actually a lack of faith which leaves the door open
for the defiling by the old man's former "manner of life" (KJV's ("conversation").
This "putting off the old man" is not done by halves. The other part
is to put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness
and true holiness (v. 24). It is effective in God's saving operation,
but we must believe that He is not finished and must go on trusting
Him, so that we have a desire to put away the conscious and intentional
today seem not to be able to recognize real saving grace in those who
make profession. It is assumed that they had faith, that is, as they
think, he trusted Jesus as Savior. Often, however, they may not have
trusted Jesus as is required for genuine salvation. A faith of this
sort is not a moment-in-time sort of thing. It is a life-altering thing.
It ought to show from the start, to be sure, but as time goes by it
becomes more and more evident to church members who have been through
the experience themselves.
if the professor is trusting Jesus, and hear him say he is, so we ask
him if he wants to be baptized. Likely he does not have an idea just
what baptism is all about. I recall in my own experience; I kept asking
myself if I truly believed in Jesus. It was not exactly a doubt as
to whether I trusted Him or not; it was an uncertainty based on lack
of instruction, and I truly wanted to be baptized. Since Baptists know
that baptism does not save in that initial sense, we have become careless
as to how important baptism is. Perhaps we are in too big a hurry to
get the new believer into the membership of the church. Our reputation
hangs on whether or not he is a real saint. Only time can tell with
certainty. The hesitation of some, specially if they were not brought
up in a Baptist home, is understandable. But we can tell if his desire
to serve the Lord is enthusiastic or natural. I can remember, since
I was saved on August 28 and the baptizing had to wait till October
1. Summer in Arkansas causes all the local streams where baptizings
might be performed to be too low for a proper baptism, so they waited
for it to become easier to drive, as a church body, to a large lake
or deeper water. My memory says it was Walnut Lake. It was about ten
miles from the church. Ten miles today is nothng, but for a whole church
body to go ten miles then, was not sonmething that could happen immediately.
Even after baptism the signs of faith should be evident. When it is
not there should be some discussion by a mature member as to its importance.
the individual may have been planning his life, may have had a companion
for marriage in sight. If this individual is not a church member, not
interested in spiritual things, it should definitely defer baptism.
Often these wrong relationships are consumated and the union is faulty
because the professing believer is unequally joined with an unbeliever.
2 Cor. 6:14: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness? Here is an illustration of
how important it is for our children to be brought up in a Christian
home. Such would inform them of the wrong with marriage, or joining
a gang or any oranization which does not hold the same high standards.
Even a job may be suspect if it puts us into a relationship which is
against our Christian upbringing. Even lost sinners have a right to
marry, and it is natural, but if we would protect our status as servants
living to honor Christ, we must think of these wrong relationships
before committing ourselves to walking with them.
narrowminded? Our whole lives belong to God, as our parents should
have committed us to Him at birth. Everything we experience will have
its weight in our decisions, so we have to limit many things. If you
are a parent who took your child to church and Sunday School, just
remember that is not enough. Life is swayed by Satan every minute,
so we must not leave him many openings to thrust in his deceptions.
I am looking back with an older and wiser head. Before condemning my
narrowness, just remember the many warnings in God's book to all of
by faith is the only yardstick for measuring a life. Look and listen.
Is it by faith? It seems like a simple matter, but it is not easy.
Nor do we imply that it is difficult or impossible. God supplies the
grace. Living by faith is not a daily grind against multiple rules.
It is the joyous walk with the Lord. If you are not experiencing it,
you are challenged to try it.
we say living by faith is the only measure for our walk, I am not suggesting
that we are not to recognize many things as wrong, nor are we to forget
that God saved us to serve Him. By faith we recognize His will. In
faith we see our provision for obeying. The Christ Whom we trust is
a standard of obedience. None of us can obey by keeping commandments,
by trying hard, by staying at it for long hours. All such is of the
flesh. When we are told to "walk not as other Gentiles walk," it is
true that a wrong standard is rejected. Doing that means to walk "in
the vanity of our minds." When trying to decide whether we have faith
or not, we search our mind, our remembrance, for evidence that we know
better than that but are challenged as to whether or not that is our
inclination, all this from Eph. 4:17. In the next verse we see how
the "understanding is darkened." With faith in the finished work of
Christ we know that we are not obligated to try to discipline our flesh
into obedience. Such is a going back to the "vanity of our minds,"
from which we have been delivered. Why, then, do we tend to "go back"?
It is Satan's way of alienating us from the life of God and to walk
in the flesh. This leaves us leaning on the old ignorance that was
in us through the blindness of our hearts. Such allows the old mind
to present us with thinking like a Gentile on lusts, wantonness of
all kinds and then to work all uncleanness (impure actions) with an
increasing (greedy) yearning.
raises a question. Does not He say that He bears all of our sins and
has the victory in our behalf. In Him we should feel safe. In Him we
ought not even to think of failure, of despair, of anything standing
in our way. So why do we so often fail? We must admit that Satan is
very busy working on our minds. Our minds take charge, if we allow
it, instead of our hearts.
us look further at why we forget, turn back, lose the battle. It has
just been discussed with us in vv. 17-20. "Their mind" (v. 17) and
"their heart" (v.18), take us back to "other Gentiles" (v. 17). Our
memory, our old habits, our thought patterns may be well established
in those things which did not disturb us, or not much, before we were
saved. Satan is able, as a spiritual being, to bring these thoughts
back to our minds and it becomes a sort of "first nature" for us to
remember that vanity, even though it was "ignorance" and "blindness"
(v. 18). So again our minds are darkened. The joy, the sweet deliverance
we knew, is not permanently attached. We must "be renewed" in the spirit
of our mind (v. 23). Thismeans a regular, a persistent turning to "the
truth as it is in Jesus" as we have been taught and have learned of
Him (v.22). Our "having learned Christ" is a lesson which needs much
repetition. It is sweet to repeat. We use it in study, we use it in
prayer, fellowshipping with God the Father, with the spirit and with
the Son. We must "put off...the old man "concerning the former conversation
(manner of life) (v. 22) and "put on the new man, which after God is
created in righteousness and true holiness" (v.22).
discipline does not occur mechanically, as a matter of rote, nor by
merely taking thought, for our vain mind has learned its lessons and
they are easier because of past experience. For you who follow the
grammar, the words "put off" translate an Aorist Middle Infinitive.
The words "put on" are like it in grammar. It is a lesson which has
been taught (v. 21). It is not in the form of a new commandment, but
is simply a reminder of the fact which happened when you came to Christ.
What more could we need than to be reminded of the efficacy of the
work of Jesus on or for us?
effort to recall whether or not we are saved, whether or not we are
in Christ, whether we can continue as a true Christian (Eph. 4:22-24),
depends on our faith. The memory of that "vain mind" should also tell
us that there is "blindness of the heart." We must go over the "truth
as it is in Jesus" until it creates in our conciousness a real faith
in the Christ. It calls for a conscious putting on of Christ, as though
it were the first time. The memory of the sweetness of Christ is in
your heart if you have been fellowshipping with Him in prayer and in
reviewing the experience in the light of the Word (such as the passage
we are studying). That experience of grace is revived in your consciousness
as God's working in your heart. You were conscious of it at first and
now you know from the Word that you were a new man, a new person, "created
in righteousness and true holiness" (v. 24). God moved in and you consented
to it, so now you must admit in faith that He is the perfect Savior,
His living in you is real. Now your life is turned around. Living in
that deceitful way you had learned to live before you trusted him is
no longer permissible, nor is it necessary. As you acknowledge His
presence and His power the joy comes fresh and glorious. Acknowledge
Him with thanks and praise.
psychology of modern day living is very deceitful. We are told that
we cannot be angry, and if we do we are helpless to control it, so
we seek new ways to find comfort. The Truth is we are commanded to
be angry. Can we do that without sin? (v. 26). Yes, but we cannot nurse
a grudge. Anger is to last only a short time and it must be anger over
that which would destroy our faith.
grieves the Holy Spirit, the very means of your security (v. 30). First,
we are not to speak of it for that is corrupt and gives place to the
devil (vv. 27, 29). Anger requires an object, so we may speak to him/her,
but only saying that which is good, which builds up and ministers grace
to the hearer. Jesus was angry at those whose hearts were so hard until
they were coming down with accusations (Mk. 3:5; cf. Mk. 10:14). If
there is something which seems to justify our being angry we must "give
place to (God's) wrath, not taking it up as our business (Rom. 12:19).
God will do the judging, so we need not assume that prerogative.
seem strange that a prohibition against stealing and lying should be
inserted here in the midst of this discussion of our experiencing God's
grace. Perhaps it is as an illustration of what can and often does
happen. Consider this in the light of 1 Cor. 6:10-11: "Nor
thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners,
shall inherit the kingdom of God." "And such were some of you: but
ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name
of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." In other words,
though one may feel he is justified in wrong, even in lying or stealing,
he is to remember that he has had an experience of grace which changes
the life, so that it is unnecessary and useless.
at Eph. 4:31-32 we have an illustration of the fact that these divisions
into chapters, are manmade. The language of these two verses describe
possible experi- ences, first of one not saved, then of one who is.
But then it is obvious that the subject has not changed, but continues
with the same admonitions that we remember our changed condition. We
are no longer the ruler of our lives, We have surrendered to a new
Master. He is now in charge. We have the "mind of Christ." We are one
with Him before the Father. We live by the Spirit. One thinks that
very few professing believers live by such faith, but it is the only
way we can live. Failure to do this means we are lapsing back to the
Saved To Serve
Reading the inspired record of the testimony of Paul, the inspired writer, and knowing his calling to take the message of Christ to the Gentiles, I am impressed with his description of what happens when one is saved. He speaks of his being a witness, of telling what Christ is and does for Paul himself and for others. It is very obvious that his conviction is that a believer should honor the Christ as God's love Gift to men as the Savior of the world. Then Paul's example of one who works to bring others to Christ. This becomes very significant as we see how God did it Himself. Men need to hear God's voice, see His works, see His nature, His character. To give this picture to men He sent His son, born of a virgin, in the likeness of men, even the lowliest of men. Seeing Him was most convicting to those who actually, truly saw and heard the Christ. How does it work? I feel it is most impressive as revealing that God is kind, lowly, humble, loving, giving of Himself. Let his language to the unsettled Corinthians demonstrate his method and the means of his ministry. First read 2 Cor. 2:1-13. From that point we quote 2:14-17: "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." This impresses us as it is already clear to us that He has all power and knows all things, He comes to us as one of us. Col. 2:9: "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Col. 1:19: "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." Eph 3:19: "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Rom. 1:20: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."
We expect His body, the church, to be like Him. Insofar as our lives reveal Him we are effective witnesses. In this way we win souls, not merely get people to be initially saved, but to be like Christ. This is how we serve God. Israel was supposed to be such servants of God, but their worldliness kept them from being such witnesses. The time is coming when they will become such servers again. This will be right before His return. That great tribulation which Daniel mentioned and Jesus referred to again (Mt. 24:21), will see such direct interference with the world by God and His people. The actual coming of the Christ is described by Christ (Mt. 24:29-31).
The Reminder, September 2005
We greet you again with a lighter heart. It has not been a month since we mailed the August issue of The Reminder. We are not quite ready to mail, but hope to get this to you earlier in September than we have been able to mail the last three issues.
We have the new computer pretty well under control now. It is a blessing. The good brother who provided it will be happy to know that we are finding it useful. It seems that its extra speed means that I cannot be careless when giving a command, for it responds so quickly until I sometimes find it garbling the copy somewhat. We have an older Word Processor. Maybe it will be reconciled to it in another month.
These last few issues of The Reminder have dealt with subjects whch seemed important to this editor. God was pleased to do some things strictly through the "foolishness of preaching." God is not foolish, so it may strike you strange that He would ever use foolishness. As it happens, He never is foolish, but what God counts wisdom is often thought by men to be foolish. 1 Cor. 1:21: "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. The clear language of 1 Cor. 1:19-31 will clearly tell you what God meant by his use of foolishness. We are told (v. 23) that the Jews thought of the Christ of the Gospel as a "stumbling block."), the Greeks considered it "foolishness." But God declares that His is the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of this world, for that is foolishness.
No college degree is required, no special skill. It takes one who simply is willing to believe God. What He offers may seem foolish, but it is God's wisdom by which we are saved (vv. 27-28). God's message is designed to bring every man to his "nothingness." Call him a sinner! Only as he is brought to know that he is nothing apart from the grace of God is he able to believe God. Further, every man must admit that before God he is a sinner; then he must be willing to repent of that sin. A man, with his "vain mind" may think he is not a sinner. He may see many others doing the same wrong things and feel he is less guilty than they. But this does not count with God. He knows the heart and the Holy Spirit takes the Word of God home to each heart so that a man must see that God's way is right, the only right way. Then the Spirit brings conviction on the man for this. It is called "kicking against the pricks" when he goes on resisting the Spirit's wooing (Acts. 9:5; 26:14). I believe the resistence is further described as a sort of resisting the voice of God. God says "whosoever will" and "come." When the man is not willing he is persecuting Christ. At least in Paul's case this is clear, for his stoning Steven and consenting to his death, was not God's forceful charge brought to his conscience as he went on toward Damascas to arrest and convict believers who accepted the message of the Christ.
Coming And Going
Our small congregation feels the pain as members are not present every service. We know to make allowances for those handicapped, but we also know that if the heart is willing God can overcome these absences for them and this pain for us. We have lost the regular attendance of a member whom we dearly love. We do not yet want to allow this to continue, so we have prayed and are trusting God to bring this one back to us if according toHis will.
At the same time we have had some visitors from a distance who have wrestled with the difficulty of attending services in a church which is not favorable to those truths we are regularly taught and believed in our congregation. Recently, Bro. Brent Smith, his wife, Shery, and two sons, Kyle and Justin, have presented themselves to our church, asking to be received by our acknowledging their good will and desire to serve the Lord in a Scriptural church. These four were received last Sunday and will send letters verifying their profession of salvation and baptism.
Some go and some come. God is gracious. We regularly claim his promise to be in our midst. This fellowship gives meaning to a relationship such as Jesus explained to his grieving disciples (John 1417), heartbroken over His announcement that He was going away. It is one of our prayers that others whom we know in this area will come and remain, allowing us to help them. We have stayed small in number far too long.
Consider this another invitation if you are one who has been in our services, thought you would come back, but have thus far failed to do so.
We have developed close friendships with many brethren in far scattered locations over the years. Most read The Reminder, partly to find out about our welfare since they know we are in the 80s. We are encouraged by their interest as it reflects their love for us and they believe in the cause we represent.
Wife's condition continues limited as to mobility, but she seems to live with the heart disfunction as well as we would have expected.
My situation becomes more and more evident that I am aging as expected. Very few of my relatives older than I are around. They all went the way of all the earth (1 Kgs. 2:2).
Most others, not relatives in the flesh, write fairly often. As they get older some of those are not as prompt to write as they used to be. We miss them in this way, though they have not gone the way of all the earth as yet. I think of Bro. Richard Kamerman, Bro. Ed Sullivan and Ioano Kanakaole, one of the best Sunday School teachers I ever had.
Some, younger than I, as Bro. James D. Floyd, Bro. George Bradshaw, and L. C. Ford, still send offerings to help with the paper. Bro. Ralph Chizek lived with us many months in Hawaii in '52 & '53. He has sent offerings lately, delighting our hearts his love.