10/28/19

"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" The Two Paths (4:10-19) by Mark Copeland


"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS"

The Two Paths (4:10-19)

INTRODUCTION

1. The acquisition of wisdom is stressed repeatedly in the fourth
   chapter of Proverbs...
   a. "Get wisdom! Get understanding!..." - Pr 4:5
   b. "Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all
      your getting, get understanding." - Pr 4:7

2. The importance of wisdom is further illustrated by two paths...
   a. Described in Pr 4:10-19
   b. We must take one path or the other

[In this study let's first summarize the two paths, and then take a
closer look at the metaphor used to describe one of them...]

I. THE TWO PATHS

   A. THE PATH OF WISDOM...
      1. The way of wisdom - Pr 4:11
      2. The consequences of choosing this path
         a. "...the years of your life will be many." - Pr 4:10
            1) As stated before - Pr 3:1-2
            2) Generally speaking, this is true, for wisdom leads one
               down the path more likely to bless the body with good
               health - cf. Pr 3:7-8
         b. "When you walk, your steps will not be hindered" - Pr 4:12a
            1) The reason for this was also stated before - Pr 3:5-6
            2) A person on this path has the Lord assisting them!
         c. "And when you run, you will not stumble." - Pr 4:12b
            1) Life can be hectic, there will be times when decisions
               must be made quickly
            2) Those on the right path are less likely to make mistakes,
               for they have chosen the way of wisdom
      3. In light of such consequences, the following admonitions are
         given - Pr 4:13
         a. "Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go"
         b. "Keep her, for she is your life."
      -- The path of wisdom is what God would have you take!

   B. THE PATH OF THE WICKED...
      1. The path of the wicked, the way of evil - Pr 4:14
      2. Note the strong admonitions regarding this path - Pr 4:14-15
         a. "Do not enter the path of the wicked"
         b. "Do not walk in the way of evil."
         c. "Avoid it, do not travel on it."
         c. "Turn away from it and pass on."
      3. Reasons to avoid to avoid this path
         a. One easily becomes obsessed with doing evil - Pr 4:16
            1) Sin is addictive, and enslaves - cf. Jn 8:34
            2) It dulls the senses, requiring ever more to satisfy - cf. Ep 4:19
         b. It becomes a life of wickedness and violence - Pr 4:17
            1) Sin is violent in every form
            2) For it damages our relationships with either God, others, or self!
      -- The path of the wicked is what God would have you avoid!

   C. THE TWO PATHS CONTRASTED...
      1. The path of the just is like the shining sun - Pr 4:18
         a. Just as the sun becomes brighter and brighter as it rises to
            reach its zenith in the sky
         b. So those who walk down the path of wisdom are progressively
            enlightened
      2. The way of the wicked is like darkness - Pr 4:19
         a. They go through life stumbling again and again!
         b. In their ignorance, they know not why! - cf. Ep 4:17-18
      -- Thus one path leads to increasing brightness, the other to
         blinding darkness

[Which of the two paths will we take in life?  To encourage us to make
the right choice, let's take a closer look at the metaphor used to
describe those who follow the path of the just...]

II. THE METAPHOR OF PROGRESSIVE BRIGHTNESS

   A. THE METAPHOR OF THE SHINING SUN...
      1. Describes a progressive brightness, not simply brightness
      2. Describing the sun as it rises in the sky until it reaches its
         zenith ("unto the perfect day")
      -- Thus the path of the just is one of progressive brightness

   B. COMPARED TO THE CHRISTIAN LIFE...
      1. It is to be a life of progression
         a. We begin as babes, but designed to grow - 1Pe 2:2
         b. We are to grow in grace and knowledge - 2Pe 3:18
      2. Though not always the case with some Christians
         a. Whose lives are not characterized by progression, but
            staleness or even regression
         b. Who fail to grow because spiritual amnesia and blindness
            - 2Pe 1:8-9
         c. Who grow weary in well doing - cf. Mal 1:13
         d. Who think its time to retire spiritually, contrary to mind
            of Paul
            1) Who believed the inner man could be renewed daily - 2 Co 4:16
            2) Who believed that we should ever press forward - Php 3:13-15
         e. Instead of being like the sun that shines ever brighter,
            they are like the fiery meteorites which flash for a moment
            and then flame out!
      -- Does the metaphor of progressive brightness describe our life
         in Christ?

[The Christian life and the path of the just are to be similar:  with
progressive brightness and no decline.  How can we ensure that such will
be the case in our walk with Christ...?]

III. MAKING LIFE WITH CHRIST PROGRESSIVELY BRIGHTER

   A. JESUS IS OUR LIGHT...
      1. He is indeed "the light of the world" - Jn 8:12
      2. We must therefore remember "that our path will brighten, not
         because of any radiance in ourselves, but in proportion as we
         draw nearer and nearer to the Fountain of heavenly radiance."
         - Maclaren
      3. The nearer we draw to Him, the more we shall shine - cf. 2 Co 3:18
      -- We are simply reflective luminaries (like the moon); Christ is
         our sun!

   C. WE DRAW NEARER TO THE LIGHT...
      1. Through devotional use of our Bibles
         a. For that is how Christ reveals Himself to us
         b. His words and that of His inspired apostles enlighten us
      2. Through diligent practice of prayer
         a. For that is how we draw near to God and Christ - cf. He 4:14-16
         b. Prayer ushers us into the throne room of God
      3. Through doing the commands of Christ
         a. Which ensures that the Father and Son will abide with us
            - cf. Jn 14:21,23
         b. Obedience brings us into a closer relationship with Christ
      -- These are simple steps that lead us on the ever brighter path
         of righteousness

CONCLUSION

1. There are only two paths, just as Jesus described two ways...
   a. One leading to destruction - Mt 7:13
   b. The other leading to life - Mt 7:14

2. Which path will you take...?
   a. The path of the just, that leads to increasing brightness?
   b. The path of the wicked, that leads to blinding darkness?

The choice is yours; let Jesus be your light if you want to chose the
path of the just... - cf. Ep 5:8

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Is There a Place for Science and Faith in a Postmodern World? by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.





Is There a Place for Science and Faith in a Postmodern World?

by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


The minds of many Christians today harbor an interesting mixture of premodern and modern ways of thinking. For example, we know we have one foot planted squarely in the premodern world when we express certainty in the promises of God, and accept the authority of His revelation. At the same time, we know we have the other foot planted squarely in the modern world when we use scientific reasoning to defend our faith, and when we encourage belief based on reasonable grounds, and a careful weighing of what others have to say.
The modern creation movement is itself a seething confluence of these two worlds. In Whitcomb and Morris’ The Genesis Flood (1961), we find an attempt to synthesize science with a literal understanding of the Bible. As far as they were able, the authors strove for scientific credibility by limiting divine interventions to those instances referred to explicitly by Scripture. In the end, however, the biblical text was to have the final say.
Modernism plays a greater role when consensus positions of science define a theological position. A fine example of such a project relevant to many of our readers can be found in the work of astronomer Hugh Ross. Implicit in Ross’ approach is the idea that the Big Bang provides the best scientific evidence available for the existence of a Creator-God. It would seem, from this perspective, that if Christians were to attack the Big Bang they would, in effect, be undermining their own faith and erecting barriers to the faith of others (Ross, 1991, pp. 163-164). Here is an apologetic that integrates entirely a modernistic agenda.
Traditionally, whether we have leaned toward premodern or modern ways of thinking, most of us in the West have cherished certain crucial ideas. These would include, for instance, the concept of truth—that there is a way to know that what is, is. It also would include the idea of an intelligible Universe—an idea that itself stems from the Christian view that we live in a world created by a rational, loving, intelligent Being. However, modern science eventually concluded that nature was the only thing we could understand—God was taken out of the picture altogether. Empiricism, in its extreme form, gave way to positivism, which writes off as nonsensical any utterances that include references to the nonempirical. To say, “God loves you,” is a meaningless noise in the ears of the positivist.
Postmodernism challenges Christianity and modernity because both claim to be “true” (Fields, 1995). For the postmodernist, truth neither is revealed (as it is in Scripture) nor is it discovered (as it is in science). That absolute truth and empirical science primarily are Western concepts is reason enough to reject their universal application. Different views of reality, held by other cultures, are no less true. If a tribe in Borneo believes that a certain ritual will cure a tumor, then who are Christians with their prayer, or Western doctors with their high-tech medicine, to tell them otherwise? In other words, truth is local and relative.
This immediately plunges the postmodernist into all sorts of difficulties. What would happen, for instance, if I were to claim that truth is absolute? If the postmodernist says I am wrong, then truth is not relative after all. If the postmodernist allows that I am right, then truth really is absolute as I claim.
Nonetheless, a limited idea of truth already is well ensconced in Western society, even if postmodernism’s greatest supporters are confined at present to a narrow segment of academia. There is no reason at this point to believe that such ideas will go away merely by closing our eyes. That Christian apologetics should have to reposition itself to this fresh challenge is nothing new. The first apologists used and responded to Greek philosophy, and the apologists of the modern era did the same with the arrival of empirical science.
Despite its horrible inconsistencies and rejection of traditional biblical faith, postmodern criticism could open certain doors for Christianity. Most important, it challenges positivism by asserting that empirical science does not have exclusive rights to truth. This move away from modernism may recover a place for a transcendent God (i.e, for something beyond nature).
Although hardly a postmodernist, this is precisely the tact taken by Berkeley law professor, Phillip E. Johnson (see, especially, his 1995 book, Reason in the Balance). Rather than affirming an overt belief in a Creator, he seeks official invitations from science and philosophy departments (still strongholds of modernism), in which he then challenges the supremacy of naturalism.
Creationists also have drawn upon works that critique the way science works (Numbers, 1992, p. 247). This is borne out of a sense of frustration that scientists, as a group, will not allow anybody else to join in unless they play by the rules of naturalism. It is on this point that the controversial work of Thomas Kuhn figures significantly.
In his Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn spoke of scientists as members of a community who hold to what he called a paradigm—a shared “constellation of beliefs, values, and techniques” (1970, p. 175). A revolution in the paradigm would be accomplished only by a process of conversion (when existing scientists accept new ideas on “faith”) or replacement (when a new generation takes over from the “old guard”). Here are elements that sound almost religious and political. Certainly it is not the picture of scientists always making an unimpassioned choice of the “best” theory. Dissenters may not have much of a say in this community, but they are not wrong merely because they disagree with the prevailing paradigm.
Many scientists who believe in a creation and global flood identify with this analysis. They feel that their dissent from majority opinions should not signal their expulsion from the community. Further, it is possible that science really may benefit from what they have to offer. For example, perhaps geology should consider the possibility of global catastrophes; perhaps anatomy should investigate “vestigial” organs and structures, rather than writing them off as useless remnants of previous evolutionary stages; and perhaps questions of origins should at least include the possibility that the answer may lie beyond nature itself.
Postmodernists have raised objections in other areas of interest to the believing scientist. For example, in the field of medical technology, some have questioned whether researchers should do anything merely because it is possible. In 1993, Robert Stillman and Jerry Hall reported the “cloning” (test-tube twinning) of human embryos. Stillman received approval for this work from an institutional review board, but he neglected to tell the board that the work already had been done because he thought it would “bias their judgment” (Science, 1994, 266:1949). Earlier, Hall admitted that pushing the ethical envelope was a prime motivation for doing the experiment (Kolberg, 1996, 262:652). Today, this aspect of modernism—pursuing the truth at any cost, regardless of what the rest of society thinks—seems terribly arrogant to many people outside of science. Christians can enter the discussion by upholding concern for others and valuing life itself.
On a similar vein, postmodernism perceives technology as driving a wedge between humanity and nature. Christians may be able to explain this sense of detachment by showing that while technology is useful, it is necessary only because sin separated us from an ideal state in which the first man and woman worked intimately with nature and in communion with God (Genesis 2:8; 3:8). Humans were granted a very special place in the order of things, but their role is one of stewardship, not exploitation (Genesis 2:15). Further, humans are uniquely situated to experience the wonders of creation in the world around them (Psalm 8).
It is too early to announce a winner in the debate between modernism and postmodernism. Christians may end up benefiting from the exchange, but there are some pitfalls to avoid. Principally, Christians should not feel compelled to defend the prevailing views of any historical period. Their prime concern is to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). To depend on, rather than judiciously employ, the tools of culture is to make the Faith vulnerable to the sort of attacks leveled by postmodernism against systems established on its older rivals. If modernism really is adopted as the “Christian” way of thinking about our Universe, with God playing less and less of a role in His creation, then Christianity may fail to transcend culture. In something so impermanent as culture there is no foundation for concepts such as eternal truth (Psalm 119:52).
What would really happen to Ross’ apologetics if (and this is not a very big “if ”) the Big Bang were relegated to the trash heap of unfashionable scientific theories? Is this to be the best solution that theism can offer after more than two centuries of wrangling over faith and science? Perhaps Ross will succeed in reaching fellow modernists, but what will it tell them about God, and what will it do for the rest of society? In fact, we already have had ample lessons to teach us that matters of faith should not rest on prevailing scientific opinion. Few Christians today, for instance, would take up the cudgels for something like geocentrism. Surely scientific knowledge can grow, and benefit humanity, without dictating the content of religious belief.
Finally, if Christians expect to use the methods and findings of science as a testament to the Creator, then they must take care not to diminish the possibility of doing good science. There is always room for taking a second look at how science works, but making a mockery of it may confuse the real issue (i.e., questioning the assumptions and interpretations of the scientists themselves). Science arguably is the greatest tool bequeathed to us by the modern period. It is no friend of theism in its positivistic guise, but the master whose hands have been bitten should, nonetheless, foster those worthy aspects of science that may be used in the service of faith.

REFERENCES

Fields, D. Martin (1995), “Postmodernism,” Premise, 2[8]:5.
Johnson, Phillip E. (1995), Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law, and Education (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity).
Kolberg, Rebecca (1993), “Human Embryo Cloning Reported,” Science, 262:652-653, October 29.
Kuhn, Thomas S. (1970), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, second edition).
Numbers, Ronald (1992), The Creationists (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).
Ross, Hugh (1991), The Fingerprint of God (Orange, CA: Promise, second edition).
Science (1994), “Embryo Cloners Jumped the Gun,” 266:1949, December 23.
Whitcomb, John C., and Henry M. Morris (1961), The Genesis Flood (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Is There a "Missing Quote" in the book of James? by AP Staff




Is There a "Missing Quote" in the book of James?

by AP Staff


Q.

I have heard it stated that in the New Testament book of James, the writer referred to a quotation from the Old Testament that actually does not exist. Is there a “missing quote” from the O.T. to which James was referring?

A.

In addressing the passage found in James 4:5 (to which this particular question refers), Albert Barnes wrote in his commentary: “Few passages of the New Testament have given expositors more perplexity than this” (1972, p. 70). Those hostile to Christianity often try to find anything they can to discredit the Bible. The slightest “discrepancy” or “contradiction” is considered as solid proof that the Bible is inaccurate and therefore unreliable. The passage in James 4:5 is one such instance where skeptics and infidels have taken a verse and tried to use it to discredit the Scriptures. In context, the passage reads as follows (the highlighted section is the particular portion in question):
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:4-7, KJV).
Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:4-7, RSV).
The KJV and RSV separate verse five into two sections. The first introduces a supposed quote with the phrase “the scripture says,” and draws attention to the second section, which seems to highlight the quotation either via quotation marks (as in the RSV) or by capitalizing the first word of the quote (as in the KJV). According to those attempting to discredit the Bible, this verse “proves” that the Bible is false since the supposed quotation is found nowhere in Scripture. If it were true that there is a missing quote in the Bible, then some would perceive it as bringing into doubt the validity of the book of James. If the Bible is legitimately called into question, then Christianity’s foundation crumbles. Thus, there is a need to answer such charges brought against the Word of God.
With some careful study, one finds that the controversy can be explained fairly simply. When James’ comment is considered in its context, and is translated correctly, it becomes apparent that he did not intend for the second half of the verse to be taken as a direct quotation from the Old Testament. The translations provided by the King James Version, Revised Standard Version, and others that render the verse as a quotation, are incorrect. [It is important to realize that the manuscripts with which translators work contain little or no punctuation. Thus, the translators must exercise some discretion when implementing punctuation marks in the text.]
Such a suggestion raises the question as to what the correct translation is for the passage. Several solutions have been presented, the most likely of which being that James did not intend to quote a specific verse, but instead was referring to ideas and concepts found throughout the whole of the Old Testament. In his commentary on the books of Hebrews and James, R.C.H. Lenski wrote:
Many pages have been written regarding the different interpretations of v. 5 and the discussions of these interpretations. We confine ourselves to two points. We are not convinced that the question is a formula of quotation. Such a formula has never been used: “Do you think that the Scripture speaks in an empty way?” If a quotation were to follow, we should certainly expect the addition “saying that.”
What follows has never been verified as being a quotation; nothing like it has been found in any writing as all admit. The fact that the Scripture does not speak in an empty way refers to v. 4 which presents as a teaching of Scripture the truth that friendship of the world is enmity against God, etc. The idea is not that this is a quotation, but that it is a teaching of Scripture and by no means empty (1966, p. 631, emp. in orig.).
The late Bible scholar, Guy N. Woods, supported the idea of James’ reference being, not to a specific quote, but rather to a general concept within the Old Testament writings. He cited Genesis 6:3-7, Exodus 29:5, Deuteronomy 32:1-21, Job 5:12, Ecclesiastes 4:4, and Proverbs 27:4 as verses where the thought behind James 4:5 is conveyed (1972, p. 214). Several commentators believe that James’ statement represents a “condensation” of the Old Testament rather than an exact quotation—a position that fits the context of the verse, and solves the problem of the “missing quote.”
James Coffman offered another possibility along the same line. He suggested that the verse is referring to the New Testament writings, particularly those of Paul, instead of those from the Old Testament (1984, p. 87). However, it appears highly unlikely that, as Coffman maintains, James’ comment refers to the Pauline epistles, since New Testament Scripture is referenced only twice in the New Testament—once where Paul (in 1 Timothy 5:18) quotes the words of Christ as written by Luke in Luke 10:7, and once where Peter (in 2 Peter 3:15-16) mentions as a whole the writings of Paul. The remainder of the citations in the New Testament come from the Old Testament, except for a quote from an Athenian poet in Acts 17:28, from Epimenides in Titus 1:12, and possibly from a now-lost hymn or poem in Ephesians 5:14.
Whether it is a reference to Old or New Testament concepts, the KJV and RSV both have done an inadequate job of translating the verse. The late, respected Greek scholar J.W. Roberts was correct in saying that the 1901 American Standard Version provides the closest match to the true meaning (1977, p. 129).
Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:4-7, ASV, emp. added).
Hugo McCord, in his independent translation of the New Testament, rendered James 4:5 very much like the American Standard Version, with a slight updating of language. His translation reads: “Do you think that the scripture speaks emptily? Does the Spirit living in us lust to envy?” (1988, p. 442).
Regardless of which version is used, it appears that James did not intend this verse to be taken as a quotation. The most likely answer is that James did indeed refer to ideas and thoughts expressed throughout the entire Old Testament, rather than quoting a specific verse.

REFERENCES

Barnes, Albert (1972 reprint), Barnes’ Notes—James, Peter, John, and Jude (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Coffman, James Burton (1984), Commentary on James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1966), The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McCord, Hugo (1988), McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
Roberts, J.W. (1977), The Letter of James (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Woods, Guy N. (1972), A Commentary on the Epistle of James (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Is the New Testament a Product of the Church? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.





Is the New Testament a Product of the Church?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Sometimes Christians forget that when the church of Christ was first established on Pentecost, it did not possess the New Testament as we have it today. The church’s “Bible” was the Old Testament. It had been completed about 425 B.C., and was the Bible Jesus and others often quoted in their teachings. The church’s new teachings were based on the authority Christ gave the apostles (John 14:26; 16:13). Inspired men soon put in writing new divine regulations (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:35) that were collected and read regularly in the assemblies not long after they were written. The New Testament canon gradually took shape so that within roughly 150 years of Pentecost, the New Testament books already had been collected. [NOTE: Near the middle of the second century, Justin Martyr wrote that on Sundays in the Christian worship “memoirs of the apostles” were read together with “writings of the prophets” (The First Apology, 67).]
Sometimes people claim that “the New Testament is simply a product of church.” Such a statement usually is made in order to imply that the Bible is merely a product of the early church councils that met to discuss which books should be included in the New Testament canon. Critics thus belittle the idea that the New Testament we have today actually originated with God.
How does one respond to the question, “Is the New Testament a product of the church?” First, a book’s authenticity depended upon its authority (i.e., did it come from God?), and when it was accepted as canonical, it was accepted because of its inherent authority. The 27 books of the New Testament made their way into the Bible much like the books of the Old Testament. Books were included because: (a) they were known to have come from God—i.e., they contained the commandments of God; (b) they were written by an apostle or prophet of God—like Peter or Paul who could perform miracles to confirm what they were teaching; (c) they could be proven to be genuine—such as the book of Luke, written by Luke; and (d) they were used by Christians.
Second, church councils could not make the books of the Bible authoritative. The books either were inherently authoritative or they were not. Consider the 13-month-old boy who calls his father “daddy” for the first time. Is that the very moment when the man actually becomes his father, or was this man his daddy long before the child started calling him such? The fact is, this man was the father when the child was conceived; he was his father when the baby was born; and he was already the father when the child first called him daddy. Just because he never had called the man his daddy until he was 13 months old does not mean he was not already his father. Similarly, just because hundreds of years ago certain groups of men held meetings to decide which books they thought belonged in the Bible, does not mean that they produced the Bible. These men no more gave us the 27 books of the New Testament than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity. God gave us gravity via His work of creation; similarly, He gave us the New Testament canon by inspiring the individual books that compose it. Newton did not create gravity, but he did recognize it. Likewise, early church councils did not produce the New Testament; rather, they simply recognized which books God had inspired. Thus, God wrote the books of the Bible; men simply put them together.

Who are the churches of Christ and what do they believe? By: Batsell Barrett Baxter



What is the distinctive plea of the church of Christ?

It is primarily a plea for religious unity based upon the Bible. In a divided religious world it is believed that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which most, if not all, of the God-fearing people of the land can unite. This is an appeal to go back to the Bible. It is a plea to speak where the Bible speak and to remain silent where the Bible is silent in all matters that pertain to religion. It further emphasizes that in everything religious there must be a "Thus saith the Lord" for all that is done. The objective is religious unity of all believers in Christ. The basis is the New Testament. The method is the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
The Historical background of the Restoration Movement.

One of the earliest advocates of the return to New Testament Christianity, as a means of achieving unity of all believers in Christ, was James O'Kelly of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1793 he withdrew from the Baltimore conference of his church and called upon others to join him in taking the Bible as the only creed. His influence was largely felt in Virginia and North Carolina where history records that some seven thousand communicants followed his leadership toward a return to primitive New Testament Christianity.

In 1802 a similar movement among the Baptists in New England was led by Abner Jones and Elias Smith. They were concerned about "denominational names and creeds" and decided to wear only the name Christian, taking Bible as their only guide. In 1804, in the western frontier state of Kentucky, Barton W. Stone and several other Presbyterian preachers took similar action declaring that they would take the Bible as the "only sure guide to heaven." Thomas Campbell, and his illustrious son, Alexander Campbell, took similar steps in the year 1809 in what is now the state of West Virginia. They contended that nothing should be bound upon Christians as a matter of doctrine which is not as old as the New Testament. Although these four movements were completely independent in their beginnings eventually they became one strong restoration movement because of their common purpose and plea. These men did not advocate the starting of a new church, but rather a return to Christ's church as described in the Bible.

Members of the church of Christ do not conceive of themselves as a new church started near the beginning of the 19th century. Rather, the whole movement is designed to reproduce in contemporary times the church originally established on Pentecost, A.D. 30. The strength of the appeal lies in the restoration of Christ's original church.

How many churches of Christ are there?

The most recent dependable estimate lists more than 15,000 individual churches of Christ. The "Christian Herald," a general religious publication which presents statistics concerning all the churches, estimates that the total membership of the churches of Christ is now 2,000,000. There are more than 7000 men who preach publicly. Membership of the church is heaviest in the southern states of the United States, particularly Tennessee and Texas, though congregations exist in each of the fifty states and in more than eighty foreign countries. Missionary expansion has been most extensive since the second World War in Europe, Asia and Africa. More than 450 full time workers are supported in foreign countries. The churches of Christ now have five times as many members as were reported in the U.S. Religious Census of 1936.

How are the churches organizationally connected?

Following the plan of organization found in the New Testament, churches of Christ are autonomous. Their common faith in the Bible and adherence to its teachings are the chief ties which bind them together. There is no central headquarters of the church and no organization superior to the elders of each local congregation. Congregations do cooperate voluntarily in supporting the orphans and the aged, in preaching the gospel in new fields, and in other similar works.

Members of the church of Christ conduct forty colleges and secondary schools, as well as seventy-five orphanages and homes for the aged. There are approximately 40 magazines and other periodicals published by individual members of the church. A nationwide radio and television program, known as "The Herald of Truth" is sponsored by the Highland Avenue church in Abilene, Texas. Much of its annual budget of $1,200,000 is contributed on a free-will basis by other churches of Christ. The radio program is currently heard on more than 800 radio stations, while the television program is now appearing on more than 150 stations. Another extensive radio effort known as "World Radio" owns a network of 28 stations in Brazil alone, and is operating effectively in the United States and a number of other foreign countries, and is being produced in 14 languages. An extensive advertising program in leading national magazines began in November 1955.

There are no conventions, annual meetings, or official publications. The "tie that binds" is a common loyalty to the principles of the restoration of New Testament Christianity.

How are the churches of Christ governed?

In each congregation, which has existed long enough to become fully organized, there is a plurality of elders or presbyters who serve as the governing body. These men are selected by the local congregations on the basis of qualifications set down in the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-8). Serving under the elders are deacons, teachers, and evangelists or ministers. The latter do not have the authority equal to or superior to the elders. The elders are shepherds or overseers who serve under the headship of Christ according to the New Testament, which is a kind of constitution. There is no earthly authority superior to the elders of the local church.

What does the church of Christ believe about the Bible?

The original autographs of the sixty six books which make up the Bible are considered to have been divinely inspired, by which it is meant that they are infallible and authoritative. Reference to the scriptures is made in settling every religious question. A pronouncement from the scripture is considered the final word. The basic textbook of the church and the basis for all preaching is the Bible.

Do members of the churches of Christ believe in the virgin birth?

Yes. The statement in Isaiah 7:14 is taken as a prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ. New Testament passages such as Matthew 1:20, 25, are accepted at face value as declarations of the virgin birth. Christ is accepted as the only begotten Son of God, uniting in his person perfect divinity and perfect manhood.

Does the church of Christ believe in predestination?

Only in the sense that God predestines the righteous to be eternally saved and the unrighteous to be eternally lost. The statement of the apostle Peter, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is acceptable unto him"(Acts 10:34-35.) is taken as an evidence that God did not predestine individuals to be eternally saved or lost, but that each man determines his own destiny.

Why does the church of Christ baptize only by immersion?

The word baptize comes from the Greek word "baptizo" and literally means, "to dip, to immerse, to plunge." In addition to the literal meaning of the word, immersion is practiced because it was the practice of the church in apostolic times. Still further, only immersion conforms to the description of baptisms as given by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-5 where he speaks of it as a burial and resurrection.

Is infant baptism practiced?

No. Only those who have reached the "age of accountability" are accepted for baptisms. It is pointed out that the examples given in the New Testament are always of those who have heard the gospel preached and have believed it. Faith must always precede baptism, so only those old enough to understand and believe the gospel are considered fit subjects for baptism.

Do ministers of the church hear confession?

No. Ministers or evangelists of the church have no special prerogatives. They do not wear the title of Reverend or Father, but are addressed simply by the term Brother as are all other men of the church. Along with elders and others they do counsel and advise those seeking help.

Are prayers addressed to the saints?

No. God the Father is considered the only one to whom the prayers may be addressed. It is further understood that Christ stands in a mediatorial position between God and man (Hebrews 7:25). All prayers are therefore offered through Christ, or in the name of Christ (John 16:23-26).

How often is the Lord's supper eaten?

It is expected that every member of the church will assemble for worship on each Lord's day. A central part of the worship is the eating of the Lord's supper (Acts 20:7). Unless providentially hindered, each member considers this weekly appointment as binding. In many instances, as in the case of illness, the Lord's supper is carried to those who are hindered from attending the worship.

What kind of music is used in the worship?

As a result of the distinctive plea of the church - a return to New Testament Faith and practice - acapella singing is the only music used in the worship. This singing, unaccompanied by mechanical instruments of music, conforms to the music used in the apostolic church and for several centuries thereafter (Ephesians 5:19). It is felt that there is no authority for engaging in acts of worship not found in the New Testament. This principle eliminates the use of instrumental music, along with the use of candles, incense, and other similar elements.

Does the church of Christ believe in heaven and hell?

Yes. The statement of Christ in Matthew 25, and elsewhere, are taken at face value. It is believed that after death each man must come before God in judgement and that he will be judged according to the deeds done while he lived (Hebrews 9:27). After judgement is pronounced he will spend eternity either in heaven or hell.

Does the church of Christ believe in purgatory?

No. The absence of any reference in the scriptures to the temporary place of punishment from which the soul will eventually be released into heaven prevents the acceptance of the doctrine of purgatory.

By what means does the church secure financial support?

Each first day of the week the members of the church "lay by in store as they have been prospered" (1 Corinthians 16:2). The amount of any individual gift is generally known only to the one who gave it and to the Lord. This free-will offering is the only call which the church makes. NO assessments or other levies are made. No money-making activities, such as bazaars or suppers, are engaged in. A total of approximately $200,000,000 is given on this basis each year.

Does the church of Christ have a creed?

No. At least, there is no creed in the usual sense of the word. The belief of the church is stated fully and completely in the Bible. There is no other manual or discipline to which the members of the church of Christ give their allegiance. The Bible is considered as the only infallible guide to heaven.

How does one become a member of the church of Christ?

In the salvation of man's soul there are 2 necessary parts: God's part and man's part. God's part is the big part, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift if God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Ephesians 2:8-9). The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, the sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to men constitute God's part in salvation.

Though God's part is the big part, man's part is also necessary if man is to reach heaven. Man must comply with the conditions of pardon which the Lord has announced. Man's part can clearly set forth in the following steps:

  • Hear the Gospel. "How shall they call on him whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"(Romans 10:14).
  • Believe. "And without faith it is impossible to be wellpleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him" (Hebrews 11:6).
  • Repent of past sins. "The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent."(Acts 17:30).
  • Confess Jesus as Lord. "Behold here is water; What doth hinder me to be baptized ? And Philip said, if thou believeth with all thy heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:36-37).
  • Be baptized for the remission of sins. "And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."(Acts 2:38).
  • Live a Christian life. "Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
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OPEN INVITATION

Now that you are aware of a church in the 21st century which is built according to the blue prints of Christ's original church, why not become a member of it? In becoming a member of it, you will be called upon to do nothing which you cannot read in the New Testament. You will then live and worship just as the apostle-guided Christians of the first century did.

Not only is this return to New Testament Christianity a wonderful basis upon which all believers in Christ can unite, it is absolutely solid ground. If we do just what our Lord commanded we know that our salvation is certain. Come with us as we go back to the Bible, back to Christ and his church.

BARE-FOOTED FARM BOYS by Jim McGuiggan




BARE-FOOTED FARM BOYS

Life as it is: I’ve lived over 40 years and seen life as it is
Pain, misery, cruelty beyond belief. I’ve heard all
the voices of God’s noblest creatures. Moans from
bundles of filth in the streets. I’ve been a soldier and
a slave. I’ve seen my comrades fall in battle or die
more slowly under the lash in Africa. I’ve held them
at the last moment. They were men who saw life asit is.
Yet they died despairing. No glory, no brave last
words. Only their eyes filled with confusion,
questioning why. I do not think they were askingwhy they were dying, but why they ever lived.
All those who found and were found by the Lord Jesus have a destiny and mission (and sometimes they sense it). Called out of darkness to proclaim the praise of God. Called to be part of what Paul calls “Christ’s body” and then again, called to be Christ’s parts. (1 Corinthians 6:15; Colossians 1:18.) Jesus calls them the light of the world, the salt of the earth and Paul says they are the clay jars in which God has placed his treasure. (2 Corinthians 4:7) They proclaim Jesus’ death and its meaning, they are a priestly kingdom that offers up to God the fruit he bears through their proclamation and they are the community of witness to the resurrected and gloried Lord Jesus.
They haven’t been bribed to serve the Lord Jesus—he drew them and they were assured that they would need to count the cost if they wanted to engage with him in the saving of a world. The Church is the extension of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus and their mission is his and his is theirs and this often has and will continue to cost some of us dearly in this life. There was that in the life of Christ and his mission that led him to say, “Do not suppose that I am come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”  (Matthew 10:34.) And then there’s that poignant (and disputed) text that speaks the truth that Jesus often had to go his way alone and in truth, in a real sense he was always alone—he and his Father. “Then each went to his own home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.”  (John 7:53—8:1.)
In his play Joan of Arc Bernard Shaw brings to us that profound sense of divine mission and what it could costJoan faces a tribunal that is bent on killing her and she knows it. The Archbishop tells her she mustn’t depend on her popularity and that she must remember, “You stand alone, absolutely alone…” Joan’s former friend, Dunois, would like her to go free but hasn’t it in him to make a complete and concerted effort—he chimes in with, “That is the truth, Joan, heed it.” Her response is this:
Where would you all have been now if I had heeded that sort of truth? There is no help, no counsel, in any of you. Yes: I am alone on earth: I have always been alone. My father told my brothers to drown me if I would not stay to mind his sheep while France was bleeding to death: France might perish if only our lambs were safe. I thought France would have friends at the court of the king of France; and I find only wolves fighting for pieces of her poor torn body. I thought God would have friends everywhere, because He is the friend of everyone; and in my innocence I believed that you who now cast me out would be like strong towers to keep harm from me. But I am wiser now; and nobody is any the worse for being wiser. Do not think you can frighten me by telling me that I am alone. France is alone; and God is alone; and what is my loneliness before the loneliness of my country and my God? I see now that the loneliness of God is His strength: what would He be if He listened to your jealous little counsels? Well, my loneliness shall be my strength too; it is better to be alone with God; His friendship will not fail me, nor His counsel, nor His love. In His strength I will dare, and dare, and dare, until I die. I will go out now to the common people, and let the love in their eyes comfort me for the hate in yours. You will all be glad to see me burnt; but if I go through the fire I shall go through it to their hearts for ever and ever. And so, God be with me!
Whatever we make of Joan she acted because of an overwhelming sense of destiny and mission and such people are a sight to behold. These people don’t choose, they feel chosen, they don’t debate the matter within; they’re driven. We read that kind of thing in Jeremiah 20:9 when the young man, very upset with God who had given him a single message—a message of doom, a doom that never arrived. The prophet’s peeved and swears he won’t speak another word of the message; but as he passes little knots of people on the street corners and hears what they are saying his message nearly melts him and he has to speak.
Paul has something similar to say. (1 Corinthians 9:16-17 and 2 Corinthians 5:14.) He tells his Corinthian critics, “Don’t think that I choose to preach; I can’t help it. I’m compelled!” Later he will tell them that he has experienced the love of Christ and it has left him no choice but to go tell of it and that’s what drove him all over the Mediterranean world leaving pints of blood on the street of nearly every town he visited.
We’ve heard of men forced by governments, ship owners and brutal captains to go to sea, dragged off against their wills by press-gangs; but that’s only one face of power. We’ve been told too of sailors who had the profound challenge and privilege of sailing with someone like Sir Francis Drake. Back they’d come to their home and speak perhaps to the village butcher about their two-year sail during which they rarely saw land. The butcher would sniff, take come coins out of the till and say to the world traveler, “That’s what I have to show for my two years—hard cash. What do you have to show?”
He’d leave the unimpressed butcher and later we’d see gathered around him farm boys who’d listen to his stories. Not stories about balmy nights when the ship rocked gently in the soft breeze and easy swell, but about raging storms ripping sails to shreds, monster whales and scorching suns. He’d pull off his shirt and show purple scars he got near Madagascar or on some uncharted island where they got water and he fought for his life with a wild boar. Farm boys! Bare-footed farm boys dropped their ploughs and with wide eyes and eager looks would run off to sea, off to toil and pain and adventure.
Arrrrrgh!
Holy Father, will you not enter our hearts and drive us beautifully mad with the admiration of that wondrous Holy Son of yours that we—wherever we find our place in life at this time—will say goodbye to needless sameness and the dullness of our lives and career off into life in His name and find the adventure to which you’ve called us? Call us to it and enable us to respond gallantly, thrilled with the truth that He is ever with us. Do it Holy Father for us and your own glorious Name.

THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY? BY STEVE FINNELL



THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY?  BY STEVE FINNELL


The Catholic Church teaches the assumption, that is that the body of the Virgin Mary was resurrected and went to heaven.

Today, the belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is universal in East and in the West; according to Benedict XIV (De Festis B.V.M., I, viii,18) it is a  probable opinion, which to deny were impious and blasphemous. [Ref.Catholic Encyclopedia]

The problem with the assumption of Mary is that only Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven. John 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven:the Son of Man.(NASB)

Not even David has ascended into heaven. Acts 2:34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven...(NASB)  Why would anyone believe that Mary has been resurrected and bodily ascended into heaven?

At death man's spirit returns to God, however, his body turns to dust and remains there until the resurrection. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

There has been nor will there be anyone bodily resurrections until Jesus returns.

 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will arise first.(NASB)

The bodies of all the dead in Christ are still in their graves.

The bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary is not only improbable, it is impossible. 

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God................(NASB)    

“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). What unseen things are eternal? by Roy Davison




“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever”
(Hebrews 13:8).

What unseen things are eternal?


“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
There is a physical realm and a spiritual realm. The physical realm is finite. The universe had a beginning and will have an end. The spiritual realm is infinite.
Science deals with the physical realm. Philosophy and religion deal with the spiritual realm.
Philosophically, if something exists now, something must have always existed. According to scientific observations, the physical realm has not always existed. Thus, it must be something spiritual that has always existed.
Intelligence is the most exalted phenomenon we observe. The intelligence of one person is more amazing than all the physical things of the universe combined. Thus to conclude that an intelligent, Spiritual Being has always existed, is logical and consistent with scientific observations and philosophical principles.
Paul's statement that “the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18) is scientifically and philosophically sound.
What unseen things are eternal? First, and foremost:

God is eternal.

Moses was raised by Pharaoh's daughter and had access to all the wealth of Egypt. Yet, beyond the vanity of visible things, he saw the Unseen God: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).
How could Moses 'see' the unseen God? The same way all men and women of faith are conscious of God's presence. God has made Himself known. Paul explains: “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (Romans 1:19-21).
The story is told of an atheist who sneeringly asked a little girl if she believed in God. When she replied that she did, he said: “I'll give you a euro if you can show me where God is.” She replied, “Sir, I'll give you 5 euros if you can show me where God isn't!”
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

God is self-existent, He always has existed and always shall exist.

When God told Moses to rescue His people from Egypt, Moses asked: “When I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”'” (Exodus 3:13, 14).
The one true God does not need a proper name to distinguish Him from other gods. He is God. He is the Lord. He is 'I AM', Infinite Being.
Among the people of Israel this became a sacred designation for God. The Hebrew word, sometimes transliterated as Jehovah or Jaweh, is called the Tetragrammaton because it consists of four consonants. Ancient written Hebrew did not include vowels. The vowels had to be inserted mentally when the text was read. Thus, many written words could have different meanings depending on which vowels were added.
I once asked a rabbi why Jews do not pronounce the Tetragrammaton. His explanation was that the written word could mean 'I am', 'I was' and 'I shall be' depending on the vowels added. Thus, to pronounce the word would limit its meaning.
This designation for God appears more than 6000 times in the Old Testament. When the text was read aloud, however, the word for 'Lord' was read. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the New Testament writers used the Greek word for 'Lord' to translate Old Testament quotations containing the Tetragrammaton except in a few instances where the Greek word for 'God' appears.

Jesus is I AM.

When the writer of Hebrews says: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), he is ascribing this trait to Christ.
That Jesus is the same, relates to what is said of God in the Psalms: “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).
This Psalm is addressed to God (verse 24). The designation 'Jehovah' is used seven times (in verses 1, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19 and 22). God does not change. With the “Father of lights” “there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:16). “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
In Hebrews 13 it says that Jesus Christ is always the same. In Hebrews, chapter 1, Psalm 102 is applied to Christ (preceded by Psalm 45:6, 7).
“But to the Son He says:
'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.'
And:
'You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,

And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail'” 
(Hebrews 1:8-12).

This text proclaims the deity, eternity and changelessness of Christ.
The immutability of Christ is contrasted with the continually changing universe that will pass away. Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
“They will perish, but You remain. . They will be changed, but You are the same” (Psalm 102:26, 27). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6). The two words 'LORD' in this verse are translations of the Tetragrammaton. The I AM is the first and the last.
In Isaiah 48 the Lord says: “I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last” (Verse 12).
In the Revelation to John, Jesus says: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:17, 18). “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:13). Thus, the designation, the First and the Last (which can only apply to God, the I AM) also applies to Christ.
Jesus told the unbelieving Jews: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). If Jesus had said 'I was' He would have only stated that He existed before Abraham. By saying “Before Abraham was, I AM” He declares Himself to be Jehovah.
“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
We endure as seeing Him who is invisible.
God is eternal, He is I AM. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is also I AM with the Father. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).
“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary” (Isaiah 40:28). “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.


Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)