The Bulletin
of the
Church of Christ at New Georgia

Tim Johnson, editor

November 6, 2011

In This Issue:
These Were More Noble
by Jerry Curry

Justifying Self
by David A. Cox



These Were More Noble

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, searching the scripture daily, whether these things were so” Acts 17:11.  The word readiness denotes eagerness or willingness. What a commendation is made of the people of Berea. The apostle characterizes them as being willing and eager to receive the Word of God. Would we not welcome this commendation of our self? Or to be spoken of as the man of Psalms 1:2 who “delights in the law of the Lord; and meditates in His law day and night.” The man who delights in the Lord’s Word is blessed in several ways; notice these from the Psalms. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” Psalms 119:11. “Behold, I have longed after Thy precepts: quicken me in Thy righteousness” Psalms 119:40. “The Law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” Psalms 119:72.  Unless Thy law had been my delights, I should have perished in mine affliction” Psalms 119:92. “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than my enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditations. I understand more than the ancients, because I kept Thy precepts” Psalms 119:97-100. “Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” Psalms 119:133. May each of us accept God’s Word with all readiness, and order our steps by its precepts.

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, searching the scripture daily, whether these things were so” Acts 17:11.  If one is eager to know the Word of God, it would not be a surprise to see him searching the scriptures daily. Early Christians are seen in Acts 2:46, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple.” Jesus says in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Those who search the scriptures daily are the same ones who will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18. Those who study daily will be able “by reason of use to have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” Hebrews 5:14. Daily Bible students will have the ability to “rightly divide the Word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15. How often we look at others and wish we had as much Bible knowledge as they. Chances are, their knowledge came the very same way ours must come… by a diligent, daily study of the Bible.

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, searching the scripture daily, whether these things were so” Acts 17:11. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1. As we noticed in Hebrews 5:14, we need to have the ability to discern between good and evil. Why? Because many false teachers with false doctrines are all around us. To able to stand for truth, one must first know what truth is!

I trust that in each of us there is desire to be like those in Berea, willing and eager to study the scriptures. Let’s resolve to study our Bibles daily; and make our plans to take advantage of all opportunities for study by being present Sunday morning and Wednesday night for our Bible studies.

- Jerry Curry


Justifying Self

  In Luke 10, we read of a lawyer that stood up and asked Jesus the question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (v.25). Jesus an­swered by asking what was written in the law. The lawyer answered in verse 27, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." Jesus then told him that he had answered correctly and if he would do these things, he would live. After Jesus answered him, Luke records, "But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?"

How often this happens in life. Children know what their parents rules are, but will try to justify themselves after disobeying. At work, when someone does something that the boss has told them not to do, they begin to justify self by acting as if they did not under­stand what was desired. Not only do people try to justify themselves in these situations, but also with regard to their relationship with God. Someone may be shown how their life is out of harmony with the will of God and they may in effect say "I know that what the Bible teaches, but I…"   We see examples of justification to God in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve knew they were not to eat "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17), but Eve was tempted and ate and then gave to Adam and he ate. In Genesis 3, when God asked Adam about eating of the fruit of the tree that he had told them not to eat, Adam replied, "The woman thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and did eat" (3:12). Notice Adam tried to justify his sin by pointing to Eve, the woman that God had given to Adam. Eve tried to justify herself when asked about eating the forbidden fruit. She said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (3:13). This is not the only time we see men justifying themselves before God for their actions, but it is the first. God was not pleased with self-justification then, and Jesus was not satisfied with the lawyer justifying himself in Luke 10.

We must understand that Jesus is not seek­ing people to justify themselves in his eyes, rather he wants followers to "deny" themselves and follow after him (Luke 9:23). To deny self means that our interest will be changed. The apostle Paul exemplified this in his life as he wrote to the Philippians concern­ing the things of this life that he gave up in order to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. Paul said, "Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung (rubbish), that I might win some to Christ" (Philippians 3:8). As followers of Christ, we should no longer seek our own good, but the only good for the cause of Christ. There will be no room to justify self, for we will have crucified self. The lives which we live will be lives that show Christ living in us (Galatians 2:20). To crucify takes humility. We must humble our­selves to the will of God. Paul reminds us of the example Jesus left us as he wrote to the Philippians, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made of himself no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8). Notice he says that Jesus "humbled himself and became obedient." Seeking self-justification and not hum­bling ourselves will cause us not to submit to the will of God and, therefore, not receive the forgiveness of sins that is promised (Acts 2:38; I John 1:9).

In Matthew 7:22, Jesus pictures those that will appear before him at the judgment that will seek to justify themselves as they say, "Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Notice what Jesus said the response would be to them, "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (v.23). Jesus is still the same and will not accept self-justification for those whose lives are not in harmony with the will of God.

Is your life in harmony with God? Or, are you seeking justification for the sins you have committed? You are the one who is responsible for your soul. God will only receive those whose lives are found in accordance with His will (Matthew 7:21). Don't seek self-justifica­tion; humbly submit to the will of God.

-David A. Cox
Via Gospel Power, Vol. 3, No. 10, March 24, 1996