Author Archives: Will Hamilton

By Bread Alone

Deuteronomy 8:3- And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

A common mistake of man is that once the physical needs are met, we are in a good place. When we are not struggling for every meal and can pay the bills, plus a little extra for ourselves, we have nothing to worry about. That is not to say people in this situation are not well off but it does not mean they are satisfied. In fact, if this is all you are looking for you will never be satisfied. For one, you will be hungry again at some point. Our bodies absorb the energy food provides and depletes it, giving us a need for more. Also, this same food which provides nourishment can at the same time do harm to the body. I would also like to challenge you to think of one person who, though he ate often, did not eventually die anyway. You cannot do it. Then, there is the fleeting, dare we say fickle, nature of money. Though we may have thousands of dollars in our bank accounts there is no guarantee it will stay there for long. We may need to use it all for an emergency that arises or another may come and steal it. Either way, it is not something that lasts and has no loyalty.

So what will give us lasting satisfaction? The answer is simple really. As Moses said in Deuteronomy 8:3, “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (ESV). God is the true nourishment we need and provides for every need. We must remember though that this food is of a spiritual nature. It is something that, if we partake, leads us to everlasting life. In John 6:50-51, Jesus makes the statement that whoever eats of the bread of heaven will not die, following up with the declaration that He is that bread. Jesus is the one who provides for our spiritual nourishment.

This living bread and water, unlike their physical equivalents, can always be found by those seeking it. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus says that those who hunger for righteousness will be filled (some versions say satisfied). Our Lord does not hide it from those who need and desire it. Even when we do not want it, Jesus implores that we take it and gives us every opportunity to do so.

Throughout life, we must remember that only through God can we have true nourishment, only through Him can we be satisfied. This is not to say that we do not need food, water and money while here but there comes a time when they will do us no good. The spiritual food that Jesus offers strengthens us for eternity and only when we stop partaking will that cease. I implore every Christian to indulge their spiritual bodies with the food Jesus provides and cherish it more than anything else. Even to those who do not partake, I pray you will see your need for it and take the generous gift Jesus gives.

Fellowship With Christ

1 Corinthians 10:16- The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Every first day of the week we come together to partake of the Lord’s Supper. This meal is used as a memorial of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and helps us to remember what He did for us. However, it is so much more than that. To the faithful child of God, it also is a symbol and declaration of our unity to Him. Even then there is more to it and many Christians fail to recognize or do not realize at all what our communion here symbolizes. Today, we are going to look at two aspects of the Lord’s Supper that are just as important as remembering Christ’s death.

  1. It symbolizes a deep relationship: Christ in coming to this earth and dying for us was the greatest sacrifice ever made in history. In doing so He not only redeemed us but also established something truly wonderful. Now, we can have a deep and meaningful relationship with God without the weight of sin sitting on our shoulders. While yes there still needs to be a fear of God and obedience to His will, we may call Him “Abba Father.” Not only that but Christ, who sits at the Father’s right hand, is our elder brother. This communion is a declaration of that closeness and should bring us great joy in the partaking.
  2. It symbolizes our absolute loyalty to God: Again, this is something that many Christians, even if they understand it, overlook. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we say that we are His and wholly dedicated to His cause. This also means that we cannot be living in any sort of sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:21, Paul makes the statement “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.” What does this mean? It means that we cannot have one foot in each door. We have to be wholly God’s or wholly Satan’s. If we try, then we are partaking “in an unworthy manner” and are “guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27). That does not sound like a situation we want to be in.

So as we partake, yes let us think back to the sacrifice of God but also remember what it means to us. We must not forget our relationship or our death to sin. Without them, we are just as lost as before.

What is Fellowship

1 Corinthians 1:9- God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The term fellowship is thrown around often in the religious community. Many use it in a social respect. Others use it simply as a means to promote unity, often in the wrong way. Unfortunately, what the Bible means by fellowship has been forgotten or if not its meaning, its nature. What we will be looking at in this article are the different things Christians have fellowship in and by doing so see what type of fellowship we have.

  1. The meaning of fellowship: Before we dive into what Christians have fellowship in, we need to know the definition of the word. In its most basic sense, fellowship is defined as sharing or participating in something. So yes there is a type of social fellowship. In fact, the Greek word used (koinonia) is used to describe a business partnership between Peter, Andrew, James and John (Luke 5:10). But what is it that Christians share or participate in?
  2. Fellowship in Christ: This is basic Christian principles. We all share in our love for Christ and in the fact He died for all of us. We all share in His blood and participate in the works He has given us to do. This fellowship is so strong it even connects us with those who have gone on before. Also, God is constantly calling us into this fellowship (1 Corinthians 1:9). It is not something that is difficult to gain or kept from us but one that can easily be found and is given.
  3. Fellowship in the gospel: How do we have fellowship in the gospel? Well, to put it simply, we all believe in what it says, its power and love for it. Not only that, but we participate in its spreading. We are all workers with the same goal and the same doctrine (Philippians 1:5). Another way we have fellowship here is in our obedience to it. With this, our relationship and fellowship with Christ is strengthened as well as our love for each other.
  4. Fellowship in suffering: Many would see this and shrink away from this fellowship. However, it is more a blessing than we realize. While suffering together, we can have the support we need but more importantly we suffer with Christ (Philippians 3:10). In doing so we become more like Him and become stronger spiritually. This does not mean that God wants us to suffer, but He knows that in so doing we become better as a result.
  5. Fellowship in the light: By walking in the light, we have fellowship with one another and with God (1 John 1:1-7). It is this that binds us and we must stay in this light to have fellowship with God. If we turn back to the darkness, we lose that closeness with Him and cannot reap the benefits of this fellowship.
  6. Fellowship in the Lord’s Supper: Most Christians are aware that there is a fellowship here. In partaking, we “participate in the blood and body of Jesus” (1 Corinthians 10:16). We together share in our remembrance of His death. We together declare in our partaking the allegiance we have to Christ. We together reap the benefits of His sacrifice. It is the greatest fellowship we could ever have and it is boggling how any could neglect this declaration of fellowship, not only with our fellow Christians but with Jesus as well

I hope now that we have an understanding of what biblical fellowship is. It is much more than just a social gathering and spending time together. That is not to say those times are not needed, but in regard to Christian fellowship it is something else. I hope we see that its nature was spiritual and not physical. It is these types of fellowship that we need to improve and grow in and what will ultimately get us to heaven.

The Authority of Elders

1 Peter 5:2- shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly

As the leaders of congregations, elders have many duties. First off, they are responsible for the teaching of the flock. This means not only must they take an active role in teaching but that they keep an eye on what is being taught. It is they who protect the flock, fighting false doctrine whenever it rears its ugly head and addressing any sin within the congregation. Finally, they are to care the members, putting their needs above their own and serving them dutifully and faithfully. This demands that they know their members well and to love them enough to sometimes put up with difficult people.

Though we only listed three duties, they have a wide range of applications that can be both difficult and time consuming. However, there are those who wish go beyond their God-given duties and add more than is allowed. This begs the question on where the authority of elders ends. Before any man becomes an elder, he must know the answer to this question and have the humility to not go beyond God’s boundaries.

First off, he is not to go beyond God’s word. This goes without saying but there are many who fail to understand this. The authority goes to their heads and they believe that they can do as they please. In situations where this happens, the congregation accepts false teachings and as such the congregation is hurt as a whole. Their overall relationship with God is destroyed.

Second, he is only in charge of the congregation he is an elder of. As seen in our main passage, 1 Peter 5:2, the apostle tells the elders to shepherd their flock. Though this responsibility is daunting in and of itself, there are those who desire to go beyond this. They wish to see the elders of one congregation oversee the work of many and in essence “sponsor” them. For many, the original intention is good but regardless it does more harm than they realize. It falls under the first category we mentioned and tarnishes not only their relationship with God but also those of other congregations as well.

Lastly, he is not in it for himself. The author has not heard of many cases of this but there are men who become elders desiring the power and prestige it can bring. In these cases, they use their position to achieve their own desires and the good of the congregation comes second. These men have missed the point of being elders. They are there not only to serve God but also the congregation. Their goal must be to see their group grow spiritually and without this desire they will not be effective leaders.

The job of an elder is not always easy but as Paul says in 1 Timothy 3, it is a good and necessary work. Though we did not cover them here, the qualifications alone are hard to live up to and then the work itself is not easy. However, all men should desire to fit the standard if not have the position itself. Those that do strive to become elders must understand these qualifications and exactly what the job entails before making this decision. One final note though is that elders do not become them of their own initiative but are appointed by others. Though this is the case, the choice to accept is still the man’s and he must understand it thoroughly. Let us all take time to study every aspect of God’s word, including this.

Biblical Authority

Hebrews 7:14- For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

Authority is a concept many do not completely understand. In the case of jobs, most employees know that they can do nothing without their boss’s approval. When we have positions of authority we want our orders to be carried out exactly as we directed. However, when it comes to the Bible, many do not see the necessity of following it as directed. They pick and choose what God would want them to do and leave out the points they do not like. This is not how things should be. God is not some lenient, weak being who lets anything go. He has a way He wants things to be done and is not happy when they are not followed. Even if we understand this, the question comes of how to establish authority. In this article we will briefly cover them.

  1. Express command: This is the one everyone understands. When God commands that something be done, it is that and nothing else. The Bible is full of instances where God commanded that something be done. However, even then men still did not follow the command. The most famous example is Adam and Eve in the garden. God told them not to eat of the tree and they failed. We see that God did not just let them off the hook because they were deceived but instead He punished them. Then there is Nadab and Abihu. The Lord had told them a specific fire they were to use and when they used something different, they were killed. Lastly, look at the young prophet. He was told not to eat or drink until he returned home. However, he did it anyway, believing that God had changed His mind. Did God go easy on him for it? No, a lion met him on the way and killed him. God takes His command’s seriously, no matter how “minor” the command may be.
  2. Apostolic example: Many will say the only thing we can bind is express command. However, let’s think of this in a secular sense for a minute. When we do not know how to do something, or not sure how those in authority want it done, how do we learn? We need someone to show us. God does the same. We as imperfect humans can get many things confused, even commands. To counter this, God has shown us many examples of how we are to behave and how to worship. We see the first century Christians meet on Sunday, partake of the Lord’s Supper on that day and have many examples of how we should behave. This is just as good as command.
  3. Necessary inference: The final way to determine authority is by necessary inference or conclusion. God is not always specific with commands and even with the examples we are given. In these moments we have to think things through and reason what God has authorized. Some might see this and say there is no way to know exactly what God meant in some places but in each one of them God worded things in such a way we can only come to one conclusion. For example, we are told to meet. This means that we need a place to do so and a way to have it. We are told to sing. This authorizes books, a way to keep the tune and pitch pipes. These are just two examples but God has always made it easy for us.

These are the ways we determine authority. However, as is the case with all things Biblical, men do not always listen. Many believe that if God did not forbid something, then it is okay. As the passage above states, if God did not condone an act, we have no right to ourselves. God’s authority is what matters and nothing else.

Oh To Be A Teacher

James 3:1- Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Becoming a teacher of God’s word is a wonderful ambition. God desires that all Christians know and understand His word so well that in every moment they are ready to teach. It is a good work with great rewards at the end. However, it is one that comes with some very serious responsibilities.

As James warns in the third chapter of his book, we will be judged with greater strictness. This is a two-fold warning. First off, the world will judge us more harshly. We will live in a fish bowl and all our actions will be nick-picked and monitored night and day. As people who proclaim God’s word, we are doubly expected to live it ourselves. If we fail in this regard, our opponents will quickly snatch this up and we will lose our influence and our ability to reach souls will be lost.

Second, I believe God Himself will expect more from us. While the standard by which we are judged does not change, the fact that we are taking other people’s souls into our hands. Teachers are responsible for how a person perceives and understands God. If we fail, especially when we do it knowingly, God will hold us responsible for the loss of that soul.

James 3 brings out these two warnings, but there is one more that every prospecting teacher needs to be aware of. As mentioned above we are in the spotlight much more often then other Christians. We are often the ones who make a vocal stand against sin and those who practice it. When the world sees this, they will retaliate, often in a harsh and harmful way. In these moments, we may be alone in a physical sense. Men will not always be by our side and we have to face the dangers of the world alone. If we cannot handle such a scenario, we have no business being a Christian, let alone a teacher of God’s word.

These are the top three warnings every man of God needs to take into consideration when thinking about teaching. We can be a great influence for the gospel or we can wind up hindering its work. If we cannot live the life of a Christian, we have no business being a teacher and if we are like the stony ground and buckle under persecution it is not the life for us. However, if despite this we still desire to be teachers then by all means go for it, the Lord needs you. As a final word of encouragement, remember that God will be with you, wherever you go!

The Sin of Partiality

Racism has been a popular topic in our media over the last few years. Whether or not you believe it is as big an issue as some claim makes no difference, but it is a part of a much bigger problem that has plagued mankind since time began. Partiality, or showing one type of person favor over another, cannot be a part of the Christian’s life. It takes many forms; racism, favor toward the rich, praising the athletic over the scholastic and so on and so forth but regardless it is still a sin. Those who are caught in it will often try to justify their actions, often using stereotypes or the actions of only one person to say that group deserves it. The Christian on the other hand should treat all types of people the same, with love and respect. This is not to say that we accept any sins that they commit but we do our best to see them as God sees them, as individuals that need to be saved and we must therefore want to. Let us look more deeply as to why partiality is such a bad thing.

  1. It is not how God feels: If there is one thing that makes God the perfect judge is that He has no since of partiality. When it came to punishment in the Old Testament, even those close to Him did not escape His wrath. Look at Moses when he smote the rock instead of speaking to it (Numbers 20:8-12). Despite his being able to speak with God face to face, this did not allow him exemption from punishment. David was the same way. He was known as a man after God’s heart but after his sin with Bathsheba he too was punished. God does not allow sin at all. Then we look at passages like Colossians 3:11. In the kingdom of God, our race and our wealth does not distinguish us in God’s sight. We all can achieve heaven and will face the same judgment.
  2. It will hinder us in our work for Christ: Imagine back to the time before any of us were Christians. Now think if no one taught you the gospel because of your background. Just because you were white, grew up a Catholic or maybe grew up poor, no one thought you worthy for the kingdom of God. Even if they did teach it would only be because God told them to. Would you be very receptive of the gospel then?
  3. It makes us sinners: In James 2, the writer goes into great detail about this sin. He says that even if we keep everything else but stumble in this point, we violate the law. Granted, he makes a blanket statement and covers all sin but this would definitely fit as well.
  4. It causes us to feel no love: Many people who feel partial toward others still view themselves as loving. Let us think about this for just a moment. We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves and this includes all men. What does love entail? It means we look past the outward appearance, past the background to who the person actually is. Even if that person is a horrible individual we are still to love them (Luke 6:35). Love also means doing what is best for them, even if it personally costs us and they are ungrateful. After hearing this description, how does this fit with partiality? The truth is, it does not. We cannot be loving and partial at the same time.

Partiality is a awful thing. We must remember that God made every single person who walks on this earth, the bad and the good. Let us also not forget that Jesus died for every one of them, bad and good. If everyone is worth Jesus’s death in the eyes of God, then they should be worth our love and attention as well.

Follow the Word

James 1:22-
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Belief is a necessary aspect of being a Christian. We must have faith that Jesus came to this earth, was God in the flesh, lived the life of man, died for our sins and rose again to live forever more. Without this it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). All throughout the world there are those who believe all of these facts. Most of them even go so far as to say they love Jesus. However, for the majority of them this is where it stops. They here His words, believe that they are from Him but do nothing to change their lives. It takes much more than that.

If we truly love Him we will do as He says (John 14:15). As James puts it in the second chapter of his book, faith if it does not have works is dead. If we do nothing to change our lives and mold it according to His words we will stay in our sins. Obedience is expected of everyone and especially of those who say they are God’s followers. However, even after reading passages like James 2 and John 14 many in the world will ignore commandments that God has given. Yet, they still believe themselves to be saved.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23 that not everyone who believes themselves to be saved will be. Those mentioned here are those who did many works in His name but yet still did no make it. How can this be? The simple truth is that they in reality did not do as God directed. Submitting to His authority is vital if heaven is to be our home. In 2 Thessalonians 1:8 we are told that those who do not obey Christ will be punished for their actions, even those who believe themselves to be in the right.

Well, how can we know what we are suppose to do? It is simple really. We must “look in to the perfect law of liberty” and put into practice what we find there. It really is that simple. However, so many today read and hear the word but see no need to change any aspect of themselves. Let none of us fall into this trap and do whatever we can to serve the God of heaven as He would direct us.

The Reason for Giving

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Money is a useful thing. Without it we would have a harder time surviving in this world. We would have to hunt for our food and drink, build our own shelters and all of the pleasures we enjoy in this life would be gone. Needless to say we enjoy our money. However, how many of us realize it is a gift from God? In 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul tells Timothy that God gives us all things to enjoy. This would include our money. So many people in the world, Christians included, view everything in their possession to be theirs. They worked for it and earned it so therefore it belongs to them. We forget that God created literally everything and since that is true then all things belong to Him. What we have was given to us by God to look after and use for a specific purpose. We are nothing but stewards and what we have we need to use as God, the true owner, directs.

This is no truer than with money. There are so many ways that we can misuse wealth and our pursuit of it can cause us to lose sight of the true goal. God, in all His wisdom knew we would struggle with the temptations money brings and gave us guide lines in how to use it. One of the first uses that comes to mind is of course giving to the poor and many Christians emphasize this use. However, one that we often over look and are reluctant to do is giving back to the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 16 as well as 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul deals with this topic. God has prospered us so we can survive in this world and the church has its own needs that have to be met somehow. We as the members of the church should be willing to give of ourselves so that the work we have dedicated ourselves to can prosper. However, many just see giving as something we do on Sunday and do not know the reasons why we give. In this article we will address a few of the reasons why we do.

  1. We give so the work of God may continue: As has already been stated, the church while on earth has a work that needs doing. As with everything else here, it requires money to do it. Without money we could not provide study material as easily, be able to fund preaching trips and it would be harder to find a place to meet. Also, let us not forget that preachers need to make a living somehow and their funds come also from the church treasury (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). Without funds being offered, it would at the very least be harder for the church to function the way it should.
  2. We give so needy saints may be cared for: Many want to see the church’s treasury as a means to help all the needy regardless if they are Christians or not. While this is indeed a good work that many Christians, the author included, could improve on, it is not a proper use of the Lord’s treasury. The church is not here to provide for the physical needs of the world but the spiritual. However, this does not mean that the church’s funds do not help those in need but those individuals are Christians. In every example we see in scripture (Acts 4:32-37; 6:1-7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8, 9; 1 Timothy 5:3-16) the money was sent to needy saints and in the passage in 1 Timothy 5, we see some qualifications to receive the money. The Lord’s money is not to be handed out to whoever comes and asks for it.
  3. We give to show our devotion: God loves a cheerful giver and what better person to give our money to than Him. As God gives us all things, He also wants us to give to Him. If we hoard our money and only give a bare minimum back to God, what does that show about ourselves. It reveals that we love our money more than we love God. When we really think about it, we are stealing from God, keeping back from Him what He truly deserves. It is true that God does not give us an exact amount to give but we need to examine ourselves and see if what we are giving is truly the best we can do.

Giving is indeed a commandment from God. He expects it from us and we as Christians should not only be willing to but want to. We said earlier that God does not give a particular amount we need to give but if we hold back when we could give more, what is our motivation in doing so? This does not mean that we have to give half our paycheck every week and in fact we do need to be careful that our motivation to give much is not to be seen by men, but we still need to ask ourselves if we could be giving more. Whatever the case, let us never be reluctant to give anything to God, great or small.

Keep Your Priorities Straight

Luke 12:20- But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

We all like riches. It would not be a stretch I think to say that some love them. People all over the world seek to attain wealth for a number of reasons. The two that first come to mind are the possessions we can build up and security for our future. Did you notice something about these two perks? They are selfish. Most who attain wealth, even if they did not start out that way, wind up becoming very self centered. Not only that, but we forget one very important thing, our need for God.

Riches, though not wrong in and of themselves, can be a dangerous possession for the Christian. Jesus said in Mark 10:25 that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven”. Why is that? It is because riches can lead us to do terrible things. In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul warns Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” If a person loves money, he will do whatever he can to get it. Look at Achan in Joshua 7. Due to his love of money he stole what rightly belonged to God, causing all Israel to suffer as a result. It led to his own death as well as his family’s. Let us also not forget Judas. He desired money so much he not only stole from the money bag (John 12:6), but he betrayed Jesus for just 30 pieces of silver. At the realization of the latter, it led him to kill himself. Money can lead us down a dark path we never wanted to go down in the first place.

As mentioned above, riches also cause us to forget God. Nebuchadnezzar is the first that comes to my mind here. In Daniel 4:28-33, the king of Babylon bragged about how he had achieved his great empire, insinuating that he had need no help in doing it. He had forgotten God. Of course God punished him for it and Nebuchadnezzar learned his place. We must remember that what we have is a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 2:4).

Many who are rich also reject God. Going back to Mark 10, the rich young ruler came to Jesus seeking eternal life. From his youth he had kept the law and was eager to know what else was needed. However, when Jesus told him to sell what he had and give to the poor he went away sorrowful. As far as we know, he never came back to the Lord but clung to his possessions. Many are that way today. Though they could be great help to the cause of Christ, the fear of either losing their possessions or the reluctance to stop their sinful practices to attain wealth keeps them back. Remember, God is more important than riches.

It is not just God that our money takes us from but also our friends. If we focus so much on work that we don’t have time for others, we lose all the friends who mean anything (Ecclesiastes 4:7, 8). Even if we have friends, the majority of them are “fair weather” friends. As long as we have money, they stay with us but once things get hard, they turn their backs on us. A true friend who loves us is more valuable than all the riches this world has to offer.

One final shortcoming of riches is their temporary nature. None of us are guaranteed to have our money and possessions the next day. Money shows no loyalty and goes from one person to the next and there are those that forcefully take it from us. We need to remember the eternal nature of God and that He is always near us. He never forsakes us even in our darkest hours and even delivers us from them. Why put our faith and give our love to something that feels nothing and cares for nothing when there is someone much more powerful that gives us everything, including wealth, and actually cares for us?

As Christians, we must keep our priorities in the proper place. Yes, money has its uses and it is not wrong to have it but in comparison to God and even the love of other people, money means nothing. It is temporary and fleeting. Let us all strive to put God first and give Him thanks for the blessings we do have.