Richard Copeland writes:
David Duren has been on Alabama's Death Row for over 15 years. He became a Christian about two years after his conviction. David has always admitted his crime. His attorney has filed all the customary appeals, but all the appeals have expired. He will soon have an execution date set -- perhaps before the end of November. This brother in Christ has a tremendous faith in God and a tremendous attitude about what he is about to face. Please pray for him.
Anyone interested in writing to him may do so at the address below. He has now (12/29/1999) been moved to Holman Prison, where the execution will take place on January 7, 2000. He is not pursuing any further postponements, so it is unlikely to be delayed further.
Atmore, AL 36503-3700
12/14/1999 - I have seen some other writings he has done along this line. I do not know all the details of the case, nor do I know him personally. But the things he writes here are worth reading and thinking about. My apologies for the HTML formatting; David's letter was a Word document, and HTML conversion can be messy. - REW
An Attitude Adjustment
Learning to Live Inside
My name is David, I’m 36 years old, and I’m writing to you from death row where I am awaiting execution for the 1983 murder of Nancy Kathleen Bedsole, and the attempted murder of Charles Leonard, Jr.
This is a shameful thing to admit, as will be many of the things I will share with you about my life. But it is my hope that through sharing these things with you, that I may help you, or those you know, avoid making the same poor choices I made.
I have spent the last sixteen years waiting for this sentence to be carried out. So, as you can imagine, I’ve had a lot of time to look back at my life, and see where I went wrong. I can honestly say that it all began at age thirteen, when I stopped attending church. I know that’s probably what you would expect me to say—but it’s absolutely true.
It was about this time that I started smoking. This marked a change in my life—not so much the cigarettes themselves, but the attitude which led me to make the decision to smoke, knowing that it was wrong.
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Knowing that it was wrong to smoke, I decided to do it anyway, because it was what I wanted to do. It was this attitude which would cause me and those around me to suffer many problems for the next eight years to come, and consequences of my actions for the rest of our lives:
I needed an attitude adjustment.
Being small for my age (5 ft., 90 lbs. at 13 years) I was often picked on and made fun of. So I was looking for a place to fit in—a group or someone who would accept me as I was. But it occurred to me that if I wanted to "fit in" I would have to act like the group I wanted to fit into.
Strangely enough, I chose the group that picked on and made fun of me. Whatever they did, I did, being too afraid to say "no" for fear of what they would think of me. So, by age fourteen, I had drank my first drink, smoked my first joint, and popped my first pill. I was ignoring God’s warnings.
Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good manners.
1 Corinthians 15:33
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
This was the kind of people I surrounded myself with, and the kind of person I became. By age seventeen I was deep into drugs and alcohol, and though still living with my parents, I made my own rules: staying out all hours of the night, sometimes not coming home at all, failing in school—I just didn’t care.
Not knowing what to do with me, my parents suggested that I join the military, so I joined the army. I think we all believed that this was a step in the right direction—a chance to get away from all of the bad influences in my life, and develop some discipline.
So, in June of 1980, I joined the army. I graduated basic training, second in my class. After completing A.I.T. (vocational training) as a member of the Signal Corps (Communications) in late September of that year, I was sent to Frankfurt, Germany. I arrived in a C-130 (cargo plane) that I never thought would get off the ground (much less actually fly!) because of its size. There I was, an 18-year-old kid from Alabama, touching down in Germany.
As far as work went, I did well: within eighteen months of my arrival in Germany, I was promoted three times (from private E-1, to private E-2, to private first class E-3, to specialist fourth class E-4). But my personal life had not changed. In fact, if anything, it had gotten worse. My first night on base, I tried heroin and hashish for the first time. Far from getting away from bad influences, I found myself surrounded by them, and happy to make their acquaintance, because I chose these kinds of influences. In short, deciding I didn’t like heroin, my drugs of choice were hashish, LSD and alcohol. Please don’t think that I take any pride in admitting this—I shamefully share this with you because it’s important that you understand how far from God my attitude had taken me, and all of these things were the result of that attitude. It was the same attitude that I took when I first started smoking cigarettes—"I’m going to do what I want, and I don’t care who doesn’t like it."
I still needed an attitude adjustment.
At my lowest rank I earned $500 a month. At my highest rank, $900. Though that’s not a lot of money, I had no bills except for personal hygiene, so I had that much to spend—and I spent it all on drugs, alcohol and women.
Three months after being promoted to E-4, my personal life caught up with my professional life. We were on maneuvers in Amsterdam, Holland (where drugs are legally sold and consumed in public). As was our custom when in the field, at nightfall, we went into the city (though expressly forbidden and duly warned) and went bar hopping. As I said, we always did this, and the brass always turned a blind eye. In fact, we usually found them doing the same; and if we happened into a bar where an officer was enjoying himself, we respectfully gave way and went elsewhere. Entering a particular bar that night, we found no one above the rank of Master Sergeant, so we stayed, my five buddies and me. Soon a Dutch civilian approached us. He offered to lead us across the street to his apartment where we purchased and shot heroin mixed with methamphetamine ("speedballing" as it was called). And this despite the fact that I didn’t like heroin—I just wanted to fit in. The effect was an extremely accelerated heart rate, followed by a decelerated heart rate, and this goes on until the drugs wear off or the heart stops. Though I don’t remember it, after mixing a quantity of alcohol with these drugs, I’m told that my heart stopped.
I woke up on the bathroom floor (don’t remember going there) and was told by my "buddies" that after being gone so long, they came looking for me and found me in a stall—dead, no heartbeat, and that they had to perform CPR to revive me. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know—I don’t remember. Isn’t that stupid? They don’t call it "dope" for nothing.
The next day, my five buddies and I were called before the Captain. We had been reported. We were "busted" (reduced in rank) and I went from E-4, back to E-3 with the stroke of a pen. In addition, we were given an "Article 15" (loss of $250 a month for four months). I still hadn’t learned my lesson. Not a month later, one of my buddies, who had been busted with me, received a package from home. In it had been smuggled a small amount of marijuana which was hard to come by and very expensive in Germany because of the long cold winters in that part of the world. He called all of us together who had been busted in Amsterdam, and we gathered in his room and smoked. To make a long story short, we were caught in the act. I was reduced to private E-1 and a couple of months later, kicked out of the Army. Though the discharge was "General, Under Honorable Conditions"(?), I was given a re-enlistment code of R. E. 3—meaning that no branch of the service wanted me under any condition. I went home in disgrace, arriving June 4, 1982, 16 months before the ultimate disgrace.
I lied to my parents, telling them I was home on leave, awaiting orders to report to my next duty station. I think it was about a month before I could no longer hide the truth, and told them what they already suspected. We were all ashamed.
Nonetheless, my dad got me a job working with him. In return, I was an embarrassment to him—coming to work high, and getting high again at lunch. I was fired six or seven months later, and I’m sure they only put up with me that long for his sake. My stepbrother put in a good word for me and secured my next job as a stock boy at the grocery store where he worked. I held that job for about two and a half months before I was fired for stealing. One of the guys who worked with us had an uncle who managed a poultry-processing plant, so he recommended me to his uncle. I kept that job for only two weeks before quitting to work with a friend who worked with the Osmose Company (treating power and phone poles with wood preservative) upon my friend’s recommendation. I kept this job three weeks before quitting because I was too hung over to go into work one morning (I thought it more noble to quit than to be fired). About a month later, I got a job at a fast food restaurant (Mrs. Winner’s Chicken), which I held for nearly two months before quitting. A few weeks before quitting, while working the night shift, I received a call from a "friend" who also worked there, who called to inform me that I was missing a great party. So, believe it or not, I actually told the night manager the call had been to inform me that my mother had been killed in an automobile accident. A day or so later, one of my stepbrother’s friends expressed their sympathy for his loss. Of course he had no idea what they were talking about—needless to say, neither he nor his mother were amused.
I needed a serious attitude adjustment!
This was the last job I would have. I spent the next two months or so unemployed, mooching off my friends, living in my car, siphoning (stealing) gas to keep it running, too ashamed to go home to my parents admitting I was a failure.
Early October I ran into one of my "friends" who had scored a thirty-five dollar bag of pot for which he still owed the money. He offered to split it with me and another guy if we could help him get the money. He suggested that we all go to East Lake Park and find someone to rob. I had never robbed anyone before (though I had often stolen). So we divided the weed amongst ourselves, and smoked a couple of joints to work up the courage (cowardice, actually) to do what we’d planned. For the first time in my life, I found myself holding a knife on a couple, as we demanded their money ($60). It wasn’t three days later that I found myself (with two other "friends") robbing a convenience store at gunpoint.
Four or five days later, along with one of the guys who was with me during the store robbery, while out to rob someone else, I kidnapped Miss Bedsole (16) and Mr. Leonard (also 16), brutally murdered Miss Bedsole, and left Mr. Leonard for dead. I was arrested not an hour later (along with the other guy). We were taken to the front porch of a house where, after being shot five times, Mr. Leonard had courageously managed to crawl for help. There he identified us to the police and we were taken into custody. I can’t relate to you the tremendous shame I feel just recounting these events, nor the hatred that I felt for myself—that I was ever capable of such inhumanity, such destruction of innocent lives. It never goes away, it never fades.
In May of l984, having already confessed my guilt, I was tried and convicted of capital murder for which the jury recommended death, 11-1.
The trial lasted two days—two of the longest days of my life. The first day was spent picking the jury. The trial itself began at about eight o’clock the next morning. I was led into the courtroom and seated at the near end of a long table. On this end, my attorney and his aide, at the far end, the District Attorney, Assistant D. A., an aide—and directly opposite me at the far end sat a very dignified and attractive woman. (You’ll understand shortly why I mention her physical appearance). I noticed her looking at me so I smiled at her—nothing untoward, just a friendly smile because it seemed the appropriate thing to do, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I hadn’t seen her somewhere before. Taking notice of this, my attorney told me not to look at her. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I asked what I already knew, "Who is she?" "She’s the victim’s mother." It was the striking resemblance her daughter, Kathy, bore to her that I had recognized. I wished that I did not exist. I’ll have to face her once more, as I’m strapped into the electric chair and she witnesses my execution.
At the opposite end of the table is where she sat throughout the trial, leaving the courtroom only before the coroner testified to how her daughter died. The prosecution added for effect, photos and slides of her body before and after the autopsy (though I hid my face and once again wished that I did not exist). After this, Mrs. Bedsole returned to her seat. The trial consisted of two phases—the guilt phase, which lasted about five or six hours, and the penalty phase, which lasted about four hours. After the guilt phase in which the evidence against me (including my confession) was presented, the jury took only about thirty minutes to find me guilty, 12-0.
During the penalty phase, the prosecution rested on the evidence presented in the guilt phase, opting to cross-examine my "character" witnesses. I had no character, but I listened and watched as my family and friends were stripped of pride and dignity as they were forced by my actions to beg judge and jury to spare my life. At one point, as my dad testified, he made the statement, "We encouraged him to join the army, thinking it would make a man of him." To which the prosecutor asked, "And did it?" And I watched my dad, with head already bowed in shame, bow even lower as he was forced to respond with the truth, "No."
I had never taken responsibility for myself and my actions. And because of it, my actions, my irresponsibility and the consequences thereof impacted and destroyed not just my life, but far more importantly, the lives of countless innocent people, many of whom I did not even know.
The jury deliberated about forty-five minutes before returning with the 11-1 verdict of death. Four months later I was officially sentenced and taken to death row.
While awaiting sentencing, I was visited by brother Joe Corley. He encouraged me to write the church of Christ at Huffman (where he was then minister, where also my grandparents were members, and I had attended as a child). He suggested that I write, asking their forgiveness and prayers.
I was sentenced and taken to death row on September 15, 1984. There, in a cell eight feet long and five feet wide, I finally came to the attitude adjustment I had so desperately needed. Seeing the complete disaster I had made of my life, I focused my mind on eternity. I thought to myself how utterly foolish it would be to accept an eternity in hell that would be infinitely more miserable than the hell I had created in my life and the lives of others. It is shameful that I did not change my attitude before destroying so many lives.
In October of ‘84 I wrote the church and asked for their forgiveness and prayers. Several responded with letters of encouragement. In a short time, I developed friendships with them. I became particularly close to one of them who continually wrote me and began visiting me regularly. Through this friendship, I was introduced to a preacher who preached at a nearby congregation. He in turn introduced me to his family, and together we studied like a family. I was learning to live inside. June 6, 1986, I was baptized for the remission of sins, and the Lord added me to His church (Acts 2:22-47).
I’ve mentioned shame many times in the course of this story. It’s a topic I am well acquainted with. Shame is the pricking of our conscience. It occurs to me that we as humans handle shame in two different ways: (1) we ignore it until it goes away; or (2) we use it to draw ourselves to repentance. The Bible teaches us how to use the fear of shame to our advantage:
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Can you imagine standing before the congregation, confessing your faults and asking for the prayers of the saints? You should, because this passage was given to James by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and is therefore a command—one intended to help us guard against hypocrisy. But it only works if you take advantage of it with a sincere heart. It also teaches us of our responsibility to the church. We should use the tools God has given us to help us remain faithful.
The"Iron Man" Spirit
Have you ever watched the "Iron Man Triathlon"? This is a contest held each year in Hawaii, in which both professional and amateur athletes compete in a thirteen mile swim, followed by a one hundred and twelve mile bike ride, followed by a twenty-six mile running marathon—"designed to test the limits of human endurance." The contestants include men and women, young and old, as well as the physically challenged. Every time I’ve watched, I was in tears by the end. I’ve watched the professionals cross the finish line well before the midnight deadline, and admired their dedication to training and their physical fitness. But I expect them to do well—after all, they’re professionals. It’s the amateurs and the struggling professionals that get me all choked up. As the contest goes on and day turns to night, these dedicated men and women push themselves. They fight through the pain and fatigue, racing to beat the clock and cross the finish line before the midnight deadline, struggling forward—until they have completed the race they began more than sixteen hours earlier.
This race is a great spiritual metaphor. So often in the past, I have seen many of the men here give up on trying to live Christian lives because of their struggles and failures against sin. I like to use this "iron man" metaphor to encourage them. Often they say such things as "I can’t do it," "We’ll never be perfect," or "I know we all sin everyday, but I’m not going to play with God." First of all, I commend them for their wisdom in not playing with God:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but the fool despises wisdom and instruction."
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
But what of the other excuses? "I can’t do it." If it couldn’t be done, God would not command it.
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Therefore let us, as many as are (perfect) mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you."
The next excuse, "We’ll never be perfect (in this life)." According to the passages above, we certainly can be. And where is the condemnation in reaching for that perfection? Perfection is the goal:
Not that I have already attained (the resurrection from the dead), or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have already apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Indeed, the condemnation is in not trying! The next excuse is "We all sin every day." Maybe that is true in the beginning—but certainly not if we’re putting forth an honest effort. Why should we be satisfied to sin at all, much less every day?
And finally, one more excuse (that I forgot to mention), "I’m not ready." Certainly I was guilty of this for many years. But when I hear this excuse coming from a person on death row, it just baffles and irritates me. I have to wonder what they’re waiting for! And that applies to us all, because no one is promised tomorrow. What a horrifying thought to know that many will face God’s judgment saying, "I wasn’t ready."
If we will simply get in the race and run with every ounce of strength we have, Jesus Christ has promised us the victor’s crown. But we must have the "iron man" spirit. I’ll not quit until I have crossed the finish line.
Observe the "iron man" spirit in the following scriptures:
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The LORD will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD, Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case And executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.
For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful to the end, and I will give you the crown of life.
We either make Confession or Denial of Jesus:
Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:32, 33
Confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not only made with our mouths (what we say), but also what we do, think, and feel. Denial of the Lord works the same way.
We either submit to Conversion or Perversion:
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
What we SAY: By saying what Jesus says in the scriptures, we teach only what Jesus taught. By saying anything contrary to that which Jesus says in the scriptures, we become guilty of adding to or taking from His word, which is forbidden:
You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Revelation 22:18, 19
By contradicting the Lord’s word, we also become guilty of preaching another gospel, which is not another but is actually a perversion of the gospel of our Lord, for which there is a curse (Gal 1:6-9).
What we DO: Likewise, if we fail to do what Jesus commands, or do things He has not commanded, we are accursed.
What we THINK: This will often determine what we say and do. So, we should be sure that we have solid scriptural foundation.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5, 6
What we FEEL: This will often determine what we think, do, and say. Our feelings are not a trustworthy compass of what is right.
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
There are three kinds of people in the world: those who will not worship God under any condition, those who will only worship God under their own conditions, and those who will gladly worship God under the conditions He Himself has set. Jesus teaches this in the parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mark 4:3-25).
There are many today who wear the name "Christian" and say they believe in and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they love Him, but they believe, practice and teach differing doctrines, choosing only to accept and praise Him on their terms.
Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,…
Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
1 Corinthians 14:36-38
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?
Not all who say to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
It appears that many have mistaken their constitutional right to worship God as it pleases them, for a God-given right. At no time has God permitted us to worship Him as it suits us.
I am in prison facing the ultimate punishment for having broken the law. There is also a death penalty for breaking God’s law if we do not repent and obey. Are you truly a Christian? Have you been truly converted by the word of God that lives and abides forever (1 Pet. 1:23), or perverted by the doctrines of men?
Adjusting our Attitudes and Learning to Live Inside
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:12, 13
Our attitude toward God, our relationship to Him, our worship and service to Him, are expressed in our attitude toward His word. We must accept the Bible as the inspired word of God, complete with instruction as to how He commands us to worship and serve Him, as well as instruction in how we are to live our daily lives.
For it is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (useful) for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3:16, 17
Accordingly, by His divine power He has delivered to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to glory and virtue,
2 Peter 1:3
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you (apostles) into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word…
And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations; "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using; according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
I know I’m using a lot of scripture here. I don’t mean to lecture you, but it is important that I gain your trust that I haven’t just picked a passage and taken it out of context, or twisted it to suit my own purpose.
These passages clearly teach us that whether spoken by God the Father directly, or by His Son, Jesus, or by the Holy Spirit-inspired apostles and other inspired writers, the whole Bible, every word of it, comes from one source—God. To question one word of it, is to question God’s authority to rule our lives, and His ability or willingness to communicate the whole truth to us.
Let me share with you a couple examples of this:
1. There are those who deny that the kingdom of God has been established among us. Yet what does the word of God say?
And He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come with power.
Mark 9:1; (Matthew 16:28)
This is the scripture to end all debate. These words were (as you know) spoken by Jesus Himself nearly two thousand years ago. There are no 2000-year-old people living on the earth. So to say that the kingdom has not been established on the earth, is to deny the divine authority of Christ, to accuse Him of being a false prophet, and to reject Him as King. Seeing that He is the only one able to save your soul, do you think it wise to reject His words? (John 12:48). Yet, many do.
2. Those who believe that they do not have to be baptized for the remission of sin in order to be saved. Yet what does the word of God say?
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
The following is a chart, examining eight different conversions. As you can see, all heard the word and were baptized. Belief + baptism = salvation. Anytime the words baptism and salvation are used in the same sentence in the scriptures, baptism is always mentioned before salvation.
Examples of Conversion
Preaching Believed Repented Confessed Baptized Saved
Remission of sin 38-47 Saved
Sins washed away
Remission of sin
Preaching Faith Repentance Confesssion Baptism Salvation
1 Pet. 3:21
2 Tim. 2:10
(My thanks to Robert Harkrider for this chart—Gal. 6:6)
Yes, there are scriptures concerning salvation that don’t mention baptism; just as there are scriptures concerning salvation that don’t mention belief, repentance, or confession—but I don’t think that any of us would argue that these are not essential for salvation. And even if we did argue so, we would be wrong!
Only once we have developed the proper attitude toward God and His Word, can we begin to live inside. By that I mean, to put into practice in our daily lives, the righteous instruction of the Word; systematically removing sinful practices from our lives. I look at it like cleaning out a closet full of junk—most of us have more than enough to keep us busy for awhile (if not the rest of our lives). But we first have to see it as junk, or we just might want to keep it. I was a fool—I waited until I was twenty-two to get started. Now here I am, two weeks away from thirty-seven, not likely to see thirty-eight, and though I’m thankful I’m not the boy I was, I’m still not the man I want to be. I told you that I started smoking when I was thirteen; it’s a habit that I still haven’t quit. Here I stand at the door to eternity, and I still haven’t been able to stop what I know is a sinful habit. I need your prayers. See what dangerous predicaments we sometimes put ourselves in? I have no one to blame for this addiction but myself—it torments and frightens me. I will overcome, but I need your prayers. (James 5:16)
Examples of the Proper Attitude
Of course Jesus is our example of the proper attitude toward God. One of the many passages that exemplifies this attitude is found in Matthew 26:39 where Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane: "…Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Our will must always give way to God’s will.
I would like to share with you other examples of this attitude; and though the Bible is full of them, these are just a few that stand out to me:
King Josiah: (2 Chronicles 34,35)
This is a remarkable and inspiring account of a remarkable and inspiring man. Chapter 34, verses 1-7 inform us that Josiah began his reign as king at age eight. At sixteen years old "he began to seek after the God of David his father"(ancestor) "and in the twelfth year (age 20) he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images." Then in the eighteenth year of his reign, (26 years old) we read in verses 8-18 something that both shocks and delights us. While repairing the temple, Hilkiah the high priest finds "the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses." Hilkiah then gives the book to Shaphan the scribe, who in turn takes it to the king and reads it (or from it), to him. The rest of chapters 34 and 35 is the king’s reaction to having heard the words of the law of the Lord. Verse 19 tells us that he tears his clothes (a sign of great distress). Verses 20-28 inform us that King Josiah instructs Hilkiah and others to "inquire of the Lord" for him and all of Judah and Israel. They consult Huldah the prophetess, through whom the Lord pronounces His judgment and wrath to come upon all who are in the land. But notice what the Lord says to Josiah in verses 27, 28:
Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. Surely I will gather you to your fathers and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants.
A somewhat more detailed account is found in 2 Kings 22 and 23:1-28, and you would be cheating yourself not to read both accounts together.
The church today is in a similar position. Surrounded by the religious world, we are forced constantly to contend and plead with our fellow man to follow the example of Josiah, and to submit to God with fear and humility. We plead for casting down the high places of denominational doctrine, burning the ‘groves’ of division, and scattering the ‘ashes’ of man-made creeds. As a preacher friend of mine is fond of saying: "Demanding a ‘thus saith the Lord’ for all we do in faith and practice."
Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same things and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10
Cornelius and Peter (Acts 10,11)
In chapter 10, verses 1-9, we read of Cornelius, a Roman centurion (something like a Battalion Commander in today’s army). We find that he is a devout worshipper of God. He sees in a vision, an angel of the Lord, who instructs him to send for Peter "who will tell you what you must do" (v.6). Verse 7 tells us more about this situation than we might recognize at first glance—along with his two household servants, Cornelius sends one of his soldiers (Roman). We may assume that he sent that soldier to keep the servants from running away, but these were servants (willingly), not slaves. We may assume that he sent the soldier as a sign of his authority, and while this very well could be, I believe it was done to protect not only his servants, but Peter as well. We will find out shortly why that would have been necessary.
In verses 9-16 we read of Peter’s vision in which he sees something like a huge sheet on which were "all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air."
And there came a voice to him. "Rise, Peter: kill, and eat." But Peter said "Not so Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." And the voice spoke to him a second time: "what God has cleansed you are not to call common."
Verses 17-20: While Peter ponders the meaning of the vision, Cornelius’ servants and a soldier arrive asking for Peter, to whom the Spirit said: "Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore and get thee down and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them."
Verse 24 tells us that in the meantime, Cornelius had called together his kinsmen and dear friends (seems he knew something wonderful would come from this meeting with Peter who was to tell them "what they must do" – v.6).
In verse 28 we find what I believe was the reason for the sending of the Roman soldier to accompany the two servants:
And he said to them, You know that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company with, or to come of one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
I have mentioned that Cornelius’ servants were not slaves—so they most likely were not Jews—it was a death penalty offense for Jews to (willingly) commune with Gentiles (Ex. 12:48,49).
But it’s not the makeup, but the purpose of this gathering which is important. Verse 33: "…Now therefore we are all here before God, to hear all things that are commended by God." In verses 34-43 Peter preaches the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles (Luke 24:46, 47; Mark 16:15, 16).
In verses 44-48 we see the result of Peter’s preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit falls on the Gentiles (44), to the amazement of the Jews whom Peter brought with him (45). They knew the Gentiles had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, because they (Jews) heard them (Gentiles) speak with tongues and magnify God (46). Then Peter asks the Jews that he brought with him as witnesses, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"(47). "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord…" (48). The Holy Spirit baptism was for a sign to the Jews that this preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles was ordained by God; the water baptism was for the remission of sin, resulting in salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). We’re about to see why Peter brought these Jewish brethren along, and just how wise it was of him to do so. Let’s turn our attention to chapter 11.
In verses 1-17 Peter is called to give an account of his actions before the other apostles and brethren in Judea. Peter gives his defense, recounting for them the vision he had seen, the instruction of the Holy Spirit to go with the servants, "doubting nothing," and the fact that he had taken six Jewish brethren with him. One might ask, "Why six?" It is just an assumption on my part, but the law said:
At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall he that is worthy of death be put to death…
So it seems to me that Peter "went the extra mile" in providing six witnesses on his behalf. Now notice verses 15-17. Peter explains that as he spoke to these Gentiles "the Holy Ghost fell on them as on us at the beginning." I can’t help but ask the question: "Us who, at the beginning of what?" The beginning of what is easily understood to be the beginning of the church on the Day of Pentecost. The "us" on whom the Holy Spirit fell on that day is just as easily understood: "But Peter, standing up with the eleven…" (Acts 2:14 & 43). The statement "as on us at the beginning" teaches us that Holy Spirit baptism was (and is) not common, but only happened twice: on Cornelius and his household, as on the apostles at the beginning. Peter then says, seeing this, "Who was I that I could withstand God?" Indeed. This should be our attitude today and always.
Hearing these things, the other apostles and brethren "held their peace and glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles."
Both of these men went against custom and tradition to the point of putting their very lives in danger; one in order to hear the Truth, the other in order to preach the Truth. Let us show the same dedication to the Truth that these men did.
Ananias and Saul (Paul) (Acts 9:1-18; 22:3-16)
It should be noted that Saul was persecuting the church out of a good conscience. Our believing something to be right doesn’t make it so (Jer. 10:23; Prov. 14:12). On his way to Damascus, the risen Lord appears to Saul and asks:
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" … "It is hard for you to kick against the thorns." Here Saul asks the question that we all should ask every day: "Lord, what will you have me to do?" Notice the Lord’s response: "Arise, go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." It seems that the Lord appeared to Saul in order to get his attention, not to instruct him; He was going to send instruction by His disciple, Ananias. Appearing to Ananias in a vision, the Lord instructs him to go to the house of Judas and ask for Saul of Tarsus: "for behold, he is praying. And has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight." Ananias voices his reservations, and the Lord reassures him. Finding Saul, Ananias lays hands on him and Saul’s sight was immediately restored, and Saul arose and was baptized.
There is no contention among us that on the road to Damascus Saul heard the word of the Lord, believed, confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, and repented of his sins. The question is: "Was he saved on the road to Damascus after having done these four things?" That is why it is important to read both accounts, the second of which (Acts 22:12-16) is in Paul’s own words. Was Saul (Paul) baptized because he was already saved, or in order to be saved? Listen to what Paul himself says in Acts 22:12-16:
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me, and stood, and said to me, "Brother Saul, receive your sight." And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, "The God of our fathers has chosen you, that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
The question then, is: If Saul was saved on the road to Damascus, what sins did he have that had to be washed away? The sins of the past three days? He was fasting and praying those three days (9:9, 11). And if that is your interpretation, not only should you encourage others to be baptized once to wash away their sins, but every time they sin! The fact that Saul still had to wash away his sins through baptism for the remission of sin, proves that he was not saved before he was baptized (nor are we), but after he was baptized (as we are). Once baptized, as this same Paul wrote the Roman church, we rise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-11). It is at that point that we are re-born (born again), having put on Christ through baptism (Gal. 3:26-27). We all understand that we cannot approach God until we are in Christ. Once in Christ, we gain the privilege and blessing of being able to "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," (Heb. 4:16) and not until then. We should also note that when Paul was told that he must be baptized, he did not respond by saying "I don’t need to be baptized to be saved—I’m already saved." Nor did he say, "I’m not ready." Nor did he say, "My loved ones weren’t baptized, and no one’s going to tell me they weren’t saved!" No, Paul DID NOT ARGUE—HE OBEYED. Have you?
The Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:25-34)
You might well imagine why this one stands out to me. Being in prison for preaching the gospel, Paul and Silas, at midnight begin praying and singing praises to God, and the other prisoners hear them. An earthquake shakes the prison, opening all the doors and loosening everyone’s bonds. This awakens the sleeping jailer; and thinking that everyone has escaped, he draws his sword to kill himself. Paul calls out to him from inside: "Do yourself no harm! We are all here." Taking a torch, the jailor rushes in, and trembling, falls down before Paul and Silas. He brings them outside and asks them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
And they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and all your house will be saved."
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this sermon preached, that the "preacher" stops there, in order to promote the ‘saved by belief only’ doctrine. But to stop there, is to cheat oneself. Let’s read on:
And they spoke to him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptized, he and all his, straightaway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
First of all, this same man who only moments before, was ready to kill himself, believing the prisoners had escaped, has now brought Paul and Silas out of the prison and TO HIS HOUSE! AT MIDNIGHT! SO THAT HE AND HIS HOUSE CAN HEAR, BELIEVE, AND BE BAPTIZED! So the word of the Lord that Paul and Silas spoke to him, obviously included baptism. Note the dedication of this man: He woke up his entire household at midnight so that they could all hear and obey. He didn’t say "Wait until a more reasonable hour of the day." I like this man—can’t wait to meet him!
Apollos, Aquila, and Priscilla (Acts 18:24-28)
Apollos is described as "an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures." (These would have been the Old Testament scriptures, as the only New Testament scriptures in circulation at this time were Paul’s letters to the Galatians and Thessalonians). Despite this, he is further described as "instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John." Enter Aquila and Priscilla. "And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." Being an eloquent, or well-educated man, did not prevent Apollos from being deceived or mistaken (nor does it us). But we must commend Apollos for not allowing his station in life to fill him with pride and keep him from accepting the gentle and loving correction of these two lowly tentmakers (18:1-3). I like to say: "Fool me before I’ve had a chance to study, shame on you; fool me after I’ve had the chance to study, shame on me." We must also commend Aquila and Priscilla for their diligence: Instead of saying, "He’ll never listen to us," they approached him with love and respect (I’m sure) and did all any of us can do:
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:2
These are three excellent examples of the proper attitude toward God’s word.
Thomas (John 11:16)
I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Richard Copeland for what I am about to share with you (Gal. 6:6). For many years I have referred to this Apostle of our Lord as "Doubting Thomas." Not the apostle Thomas, not Thomas Didymus, but "Doubting Thomas." How foolish and disrespectful! I don’t remember exactly what brought the subject up, but I remember after I had referred to him as "Doubting Thomas," Richard pointed out John 11:16 to me. Jesus has received word that Lazarus has died. He says to His disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." The disciples reply, "The Jews there wanted to stone you, and you want to go back?!" Jesus then explains that Lazarus has died, and He intends to raise him. To which Thomas replies, "Let us also go that we may die with Him." It seems I had forgotten the great faith that Thomas showed here, and only remembered the one moment in his life that he expressed doubt. How unfair! I hope to see our brother Thomas soon, and thinking of that, it occurred to me that I would never walk up to him in heaven and say "Doubting Thomas, it’s so nice to meet you!" What if he were to reply "Murdering David, surprised you made it!"?
The point is, none of us wants to be remembered for the negative things we’ve done. And since I wouldn’t feel right about addressing him as "Doubting Thomas" in heaven, I shouldn’t do it here either. Thank you, Richard, for your gentle and loving correction.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged…
Matthew 7:1, 2
Of all the scriptures concerning judgment, this is by far the most popular and the most misused. As we continue to read this passage, we can clearly see its intent is to teach us not to be hypocritical in our judgment of others while doing the same or worse things ourselves (vv. 3-5).
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
But Peter and John answered and said unto them, whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, you be the judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
Acts 4:19, 20
When we judge, we are not to judge according to what we think is right, but we are to speak God’s judgment. (Compare: Rom. 1:28—2:3 with 1 Cor. 11:31, 32). To judge or condemn another when we ourselves are guilty is to speak our own condemnation. We are first to judge ourselves by God’s word. When we have done this and found ourselves to be in His will, then and only then can we instruct our brother by sharing God’s judgment with him. It is then God’s judgment, and not our own.
Are we not to warn our brothers and sisters of God’s judgment if we know them to be doing things contrary to God’s will as expressed through His word? What say the scriptures?
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to the law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments of things pertaining to this life, do you let those who are least esteemed by the church do the judging? I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that is able to judge between his brethren?
1 Corinthians 6:1-5
This was written to the church at Corinth, because they had apparently taken the "judge not" position concerning a young man involved in an incestuous/adulterous relationship with his father’s wife: (I Cor. 5). And Paul tells them that he has already judged this man (v. 3), and instructs the members to withdraw and not to associate with this man (vv. 4-13). Did this not call for judgment on their part? (Though they were initially opposed to making a judgment, and were sharply rebuked for it).
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness; considering yourself, let you also be tempted.
Would we not have to use judgment to determine whether or not a person has been overtaken in a fault? And by what would we judge them? By God’s word—therefore the judgment did not originate in our minds, but in God’s mind—His judgment.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
1 Thessalonians 5:14
This most certainly includes preachers:
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that does not walk orderly, after the tradition which he received of us… And if any man does not obey our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet, do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15
Whoever transgresses, and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you bringing another doctrine, not this doctrine, do not receive him into your house, nor bid him God speed. For he who bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
2 John 9, 10, 11
If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man ministers, let him do it according to the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.
1 Peter 4:11
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
So you, O son of man, I have set you to be a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore you will hear the word from my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you will surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from this way, that wicked man will die in his iniquity: but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked to turn from his wicked way and he does not turn from it, he will die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
These are not my words, they are God’s Word; and we can clearly see that these passages instruct us to first judge ourselves, and to warn those in error, of the judgment to come. All by the Word of God, and always with humility and respect, for it is God’s Word that will judge us in the last day (John 12:47, 48).
I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."
1 Corinthians 10:15
I have often heard those who speak of their "witness" or "testimony" for Jesus Christ. I would like to share with you the focal point of a sermon I heard preached by Earl Barnett on this subject. It was the apostles and disciples who lived during the time Jesus was on the earth, who are His witnesses—it is their testimony which is given. Being as familiar with courtroom proceedings as I am, I can affirm what Earl pointed out about our "witness" or "testimony." There is a hymn, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" Every one of us would have to honestly answer, "No." Therefore, in a court of law, our "testimony" would be disallowed on the grounds that our "witness" and our "testimony" were hearsay. No, rather than being witnesses, we are judges—judging whether or not the testimony of the witnesses of Jesus’ ministry, death, burial, and resurrection, are true. This does not make us any less important in the kingdom of God, but it will prevent the naysayers from questioning our credentials as "witnesses" and finding them to be false.
Let God’s Word be true but every man a liar; as it is written, that thou might be justified in thy sayings and might overcome when you are judged.
Seeing then, that we have judged God’s Word to be true, we have a duty and an obligation, both to God, and our fellow man:
Guardians of the Truth
Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that you are in the world. But the God of all grace, who has called us to this eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, makes you perfect, establishes, strengthens, and settles you. To Him be the glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.
1 Peter 5:8-11
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and all supplication for all saints;…
To whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for if I forgave anyone anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ; lest Satan should gain an advantage over us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
2 Corinthians 2:10, 11
The battle lines have been drawn; we are at war; the battle rages all around us. There is an enemy, but I am not yours, and you are not mine. The enemy has been clearly identified: he is Satan. He is a crafty adversary and not to be taken lightly. His tactic is simple but deadly: Divide and Conquer.
One night, some of my friends here and I were studying Ephesians 6:10-18. One noted that the whole armor of God covered from head to toe very well in the front, "but what about your back?" he asked, "it seems to me that the back is left vulnerable, unprotected." Someone answered, "have you ever heard someone say to a friend in a fight, "I’ve got your back"?
It makes it all very clear, doesn’t it? We must not only fight to protect ourselves, but also one another.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers are also transformed (disguised) as the ministers of righteousness; whose end will be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
…rebuke them sharply, that they may be saved in the faith; Not giving heed to… fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth… They profess that they know God; but in their works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.
A man that is a heretic (false teacher) after the first and second admonition, reject.
As guardians of the Truth, we must vigorously defend the Word of God against those who would pervert it, teaching the doctrines of men, as though they were the commandments of God, even if they claim to be Christians—especially if they claim to be Christians.
I hope that I have been able to share with you some things that will be helpful to you or to those you know. I thank you for giving me this opportunity. I pray that God will richly bless you through the knowledge of His Word.
Tick-tock Says the Clock
Tick-tock says the clock…
Today is no ordinary day.
Tick-tock says the clock…
Time you were on your way.
Tick-tock says the clock…
The time is drawing near.
Tick-tock says the clock…
Prepare to depart from here.
Tick-tock says the clock…
Time to be separated from family and friends;
Tick-tock says the clock…
To live in a land where life never ends.
Tick-tock says the clock…
Do not be afraid.
Tick-tock says the clock…
The way of salvation He has made.
Tick-tock says the clock…
His word you have known.
Tick-tock says the clock…
If you have obeyed and embraced the mercy He has shown.
Tick-tock says the clock…
Prepare to see His face.
Tick-tock says the clock…
And feel His loving embrace.
(To be continued)…
Let him who is taught the word, share all good things with him who teaches.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the following people for the love they have shown me personally and/or for their love and dedication to the gospel and the kingdom of Christ:
Kim Glover (who first encouraged me to write), Shelby Heath and Janet Daniel (who regularly visited me—Matt 25:36), Richard Copeland (without whose help this book might not have been reproduced and distributed.) Joe Corley, Connie Beddingfield, Jeannine Crawford, Marjorie Holt, Buddy Parker, Kyle Pope, Charles Andrews, Steve Patton, Lloyd Barker, Earl Barnett, L.T. Gurganus, Charles Bryan, Bud White, Bob Waldron, Robert Harkrider, Sam Abston Sr., Sam Abston Jr., Ben Sherrod, David Phipps, Sammy Slatzky, Clyde Pierce, Curtis Godfrey, and my second family: John, Joan, Josh, Jared, John S., and Janna Grace Gurtler.
In loving memory of:
Connie and Josh Beddingfield, Jeannine Crawford, and Justin Nash.