By Bill Crews
Expressing the sentiments of my heart are these words of Paul to his brethren at Corinth: “I write not these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Cor. 4:14). This then is not a lesson to shame, but to admonish. Consider these: How brief life is! How certain death is! How long eternity is! And sin? How strong its appeal; how persistent its temptation; how deceptive its appearance; how misleading its promise; how fleeting its pleasure; how tragic its consequence; how horrible its punishment! How great God’s love is! How wonderful Christ’s sacrifice is! How powerful the gospel is! How important the church is! How precious one soul is! How pressing salvation is! How beautiful heaven is! How terrible hell is!
Scriptures To Read
Here is an array of arresting Scriptures that emphasize both the importance and the conditional nature of salvation:
(1) Matt. 22:37-38-God is to be loved with all the heart, soul and mind.
(2) Matt. 10:34-38-Christ is to be loved above father or mother, son or daughter.
(3) Matt. 5:6; 6:31-33-we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness.
(4) Matt. 7:21-17-we must hear and do the words of Christ.
(5) Matt. 16:24-27-Christ demands self-denial, cross-bearing and following Him even if it costs us our very lives.
(6) Rom. 6:12-13-we must present ourselves unto God and our body members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
(7) Rom. 12:1-2–we must be living sacrifices, not fashioned according to this world.
(8) 1 Cor. -9:24-27; Phil. 3:12-14; Heb. 12:1-2-we must run the race that demands our all.
(9) 1 Cor. 15:58; Col. 1:21-23-we must be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;” we must “continue in the faith.”
(10) Heb. 4:11; 2 Pet. 1:5-11-we must “give diligence to enter into that rest;” we must “give the more diligence to make” our “calling and election sure.”
(11) Heb. 12:14-we must follow after “the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord.”
(12) Heb. 12:28-29-we must have gratitude and offer to God well-pleasing service. “For our God is a consuming fire.”
Some Searching Questions
In view of the principles and lessons contained in the above Scriptures, please answer these questions:
(1) Why do the various services and classes of a congregation not receive the active support of all the members? There are legitimate reasons for not being present, but what of the many instances of brethren missing when they could be present? An attendance chart, posted in the foyer, would be quite revealing. We need to keep in mind the immediate (spiritual edification) and eventual (eternal salvation) purpose of these services and classes. They are more important than work or school, but does our practice say so? Why do brethren miss when they could attend? It is a matter of attitude and interest. “When we want to do something, we find a way. When we don’t, we find an excuse.”
(2) Why are some brethren consistently tardy for services and classes? Do we realize what tardiness says about our interest and the importance we attach to the services and classes? It is detrimental to us and to others. It is a liability and a distraction. It is a habit that most refuse to give in to, that some have formed, that anyone can overcome. Teachers, especially, need to be on time.
(3) Why, in our Bible study classes, are there both children and adults who come without having studied their assigned lessons? Do patents help their children with their lessons or see to it that they get them? Any boy or girl who has become a Christian should not have to be made to prepare a Bible lesson.. Do parents teach and impress upon their children the importance of spiritual things? Do adults set a good example? How can the most important thing in life receive such shoddy treatment from those who profess to prize it most?
(4) Why do we not do more visiting and contacting for the purpose of helping others–the ill, newcomers, the ones who visit our services, the spiritually weak; the negligent? How can we otherwise help to edify and manifest love for brethren and others? Why is all of such “personal” work done by a handful?
(5) Do we really understand, appreciate and benefit from all the time and effort that go into sermons, class lessons, and bulletins? There are some assignments essential to the work of a congregation that are accepted on a voluntary .basis, and those who thus volunteer certainly learn to appreciate -the efforts essential to such works. But what about .those who never volunteer? Have you ever folded, addressed and mailed the bulletin? Have you ever cleaned the building or kept the lawn? Have you ever taught a class? led singing? preached a sermon?
Let me close with more questions. Why are you a Christian? Why are you a member of the Lord’s church? Why are you a member of a particular congregation? Do you see it all as a means to an end? As preparation for eternity? Do you keep your eye on the goal? Are you fully committed to doing the Lord’s will? Do you really want to go to heaven? Is the Lord first in your life?
Truth Magazine XIX: 46, pp. 726-727
October 2, 1975