Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

The New Year

Note: This is the last Bulletin of 2019. I want to wish all of our readers a very Happy Holiday Season as we anticipate the approaching New Year. And thanks to all who encourage me with your comments about the articles that I write each week.
In this final article for this year, I want us to look at the approaching New Year (if God wills). I remember as a child reading the L’il Abner comic strip; at the beginning of each New Year, they would picture the Old Year as an old gray-haired man with a long beard and bent over, and they would picture the New Year coming in as a newborn baby. We might smile at that, but there may be more truth in it than we notice. Soon, (if it is God’s plan for the world to remain) we will see the old year folded up and put away as the new year, with all of its excitement, comes in.
With the New Year, we are given a new chapter in our Book of Life here on earth. As we start, every page is blank and every page is clean. How it will look at the end of the New Year will be up to us. If God gives us the time, and we are still here at the end of 2020, how will we look back on the year? Will our Book of Life be filled with good things? Will it be patterned after the world’s standards, or will it be filled with righteousness? As we anticipate the New Year, let each of us make at least one New Year’s Resolution—that is that we will strive each day (one day at a time) to make our Book to be filled with good deeds and pleasant memories.
As we face the New Year, how many of us will be here at both the start and the end of the New Year? We have lost a number of our members in 2019. And even though we should pray for our physical health and that we might prosper in the New Year, our concentration should be chiefly upon our spiritual lives and our spiritual health. We have some that need to obey the Gospel; we have others that have wondered away and have deserted the Lord; they need to repent and come back home. It is our prayer that those reading this that have become unfaithful will reconsider the consequences of the decisions they have made. As brother Malcolm said, we should “make it as easy as possible for the lost to come home.” That seems to also be the sentiment behind what Paul said in Galatians 6:1 when he wrote, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Like the father of the younger son in the parable of the lost son, we should be watching, waiting, and eager for those who have become “again entangled and overcome” with the world of sin from which they had once escaped (II Pet. 2:20-22).
As we begin the New Year, I will be beginning my 59th year of preaching the Gospel. Thanks to Northeast for putting up with me for well over half of those years. May God bless each of you as we work for the Master together in 2020!

Paul M. Wilmoth

Inventory Time

At the end of the year or at the beginning of the New Year, many businesses are known to take inventory. There may be several reasons this is done, but one of them is to determine how well they have done in the year just ended. Have they made a profit or loss? Has the business made progress or has it regressed? This is obviously a good practice. It allows the business to determine what steps need to be taken to keep the business where it should be; do corrections need to be made? Does more emphasis need to be placed on certain aspects that may be lagging behind?
If this is true in the business world, can we not make an application in the spiritual side of our lives? As we near the end of another year, we often urge all of us, as Christians, to stop and take inventory. We need to examine our lives and see if we are making progress as a Christian or have we slipped backward in our journey toward heaven? Paul urged the church at Corinth, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Cor. 13:5). And even though this is a great time for us to do this, this is something we should do often, and not just at the end of the year or the beginning of a new year.
What about you? How have you done in 2019? Have you grown as a Christian? Can you see growth in your life? Can others observe growth in your life? Are you a faithful student of the Bible? Do you “study to show thyself approved unto God”? (II Tim. 2:15). Do you “desire the sincere milk of the word that you might grow thereby”? (I Pet. 1:2). Have you “grown in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” this year? (II Pet. 3:18). How have you done in building the Christian life in 2019? Read and study often how this is to be done in II Peter 1:5-10. The Christian life is always a work in progress. We are to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Are you doing that?
Have you put God and His righteousness first in your life during the year soon ending? Have you attended all the services of the church, unless hindered, or have you forsaken some of them? (Heb. 10:25). Have you “remembered” the death of Christ “till He comes” each first day of the week this year? Can you improve on this? Do you attend Wednesday night Bible Study in order that your knowledge can increase?
Have you tried to win someone else to Christ this year? Have you made it your aim to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven?” (Matt. 5:16).
Let all of us look at ourselves, and see where we can improve in the New Year.

Paul M. Wilmoth

The Effect of the Gospel

In II Corinthians 14-17 Paul discusses the great triumph of the Gospel through his preaching. He even compares it to a glorious triumph, like those of Roman emperors, with Christ as the great conqueror, and Paul, himself, as one participating in and sharing the glory of it.
But the part of these scriptures that I want to center our thoughts on is found in vs. 15-16: “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”

What is Paul saying? When the Gospel was preached by Paul and the apostles, or when it is preached by faithful preachers today, some are saved by it, and others perished. Why was/is this true? It is similar to the parables of Jesus; they enlightened some, and others were hardened by them. It is not the Gospel, but men's reaction to it that determines whether one is saved or lost. In I Corinthians 1:21, Paul wrote, “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.” He stated that it was the Gospel he preached to those at Corinth by which they were saved (I Cor. 15:1-4).
What Paul has in mind is the responsibility that lies within each one of us when we hear the truth taught. We must decide to accept it and be obedient to it, or we can decide to reject it and stand in rebellion to what is taught in God’s word. God has never forced anyone to do His will. Ability to choose has been given to all beginning in the Garden of Eden. We often refer to this as the “free moral agency” of mankind. Right from the beginning bad choices were made, even as they are today.
Another example that demonstrates this same thing can be found in Acts 28 as Paul was being held in Rome for trial. He was granted some freedoms and used it as an opportunity to preach the Gospel. In verses 21-22, we are told: “But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere. So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.” What was the result of Paul’s preaching on this occasion? “And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not”
(v. 24).
What should we conclude from this? We today have the obligation to “Preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15; II Tim. 4:1-4). But those who hear must decide their reaction. And that reaction will determine whether they are saved or lost. How about YOU? What effect has the Gospel had upon you? Have you followed its instructions and been “then made free from sin” (Rom. 6:17-18)? Or have you turned a deaf ear, and refused to obey its teaching? The choice is yours. Eternity hangs in the balance!

Paul M. Wilmoth

Who May Dwell With the Lord?

This is basically the question the psalmist asks in the 51st Psalm: “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” (v. 1). When you read this Psalm, you truly get an inspired description of the character of one who may dwell with the Lord? I believe Albert Barnes stated it right: “This psalm refers to a single subject, but that (is) the most important which can come before the human mind. It is the question. Who is truly religious? who will enter heaven? who will be saved?” (Albert Barnes, Commentary on Psalms). The description is given in both positive and negative qualities. Let’s look briefly at them.
The answer: “He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (v. 2). These three things describe one who is morally correct in behavior and thinking; one acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous. An upright one who works righteousness will always speak the truth. In short, the one who will dwell with God is the one who is upright, just, honest, truthful.
The answer from a negative viewpoint: “He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend” (v. 3). David is telling us that the one who may dwell with the Lord is the man who treats his neighbor properly; who does not slander or reproach him; who does not readily listen to gossip reports in regard to him.
“In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change” (v.4). Here David describes the character traits that consider or think of others in a proper fashion; he has no use for the “vile person,” but regards the righteous and the wicked as they should be regarded; who looks with proper disgust on all who are “vile” in their character, and displays true respect on all who fear the Lord. He is also one who is faithful to his promise, though it proves to be against his own interest; a truly righteous man will keep his word, even when it is to his own disadvantage to do so.
Two more negative qualifications: “He who does not put out his money at usury. Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.” The upright will never take advantage of those less fortunate nor those in need. He will not take a bribe against the innocent. This is not true of “those who will be rich” discussed by Paul in I Timothy 6:5f. The “usury” condemned in Scripture was speaking of those who did take advantage of those in need by charging them exorbitant amounts of interest. The one who may dwell with the Lord would never be guilty of that.
Conclusion: “He who does these things shall never be moved” (v. 6). The person who exhibits the desirable qualities outlined in this passage will never be removed from his safe position in the favor of God. How about you? Is your character and conduct like that described in this Psalm?

Paul M. Wilmoth

Thanksgiving

Paul wrote to the Philippians in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Paul also wrote, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:18).
Alexander Cruden wrote of the word
thanksgiving, “An acknowledging and confessing with gladness the benefits and mercies, which God bestows either upon ourselves or others” (Cruden's Concordance). Throughout the pages of inspiration, we are often exhorted to be thankful. The Psalmist wrote, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). And to the church at Colosse Paul urged, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Col. 3:15). In the negative sense in listing the sinful condition of the Gentiles, Paul said: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21).
Paul practiced what he urged upon his fellow Christians to do in giving thanks. “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (II Cor. 2:14). “But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you” (II Cor. 8:16). “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (II Cor. 9:15). Perhaps his statement in Ephesians 5:20 sums it up, as far as Paul is concerned: “Giving thanks always, for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now, let's go back to our original passage of Scripture with which we began this article: “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” It appears that Paul viewed prayer as the proper response to every situation that might arise in our lives. There is nothing which has to do with our life that we cannot go and spread it all before the Lord. We are taught that God is pleased when His children approach Him in prayer. He has assured us that He is ever able and ready to listen and bless us, even more so than earthly parents (Eph. 3:20). It is equally clear that thanksgiving should accompany all of our prayers, no matter the circumstance or the situation.
Are you thankful? Does thanksgiving accompany every request you make to God? In the words of the Christian hymn, “Count Your Blessings”, the final verse says, “So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.” I can only add, “Amen!”

Paul M. Wilmoth