Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."


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Doers Of The Word

Text: James 1: 22-27

We understand that not only in Bible times, but more so it seems in our times, there are those who will scoff at God’s word.  They are not willing to give audience to God’s word; they are not willing to hear God’s word.  They called it a dead letter and yet never having truly and honestly investigated its claims for themselves. Yet there are others who are willing to listen to God’s word but simply will do nothing about it.  The Bible stresses the necessity of not only hearing, but then, of obeying that which we hear.

Recognizing what God’s word says is one thing but then, willing to obey and do, is another.  The difficulty in the lives of most Christians as well as many of the problems that arise in the congregation is not so much the ignorance of what God’s word teaches on a particular subject, but the willingness to abide by it in our lives.  Most of those who miss worship services can quote Hebrew 10:25 as surely as I can.  It’s not a problem of knowledge, it is a matter of practice.  Thus, God, through the pen of James, in particular, points out the importance of obeying or doing God’s word as well as hearing. Hearing is typically much easier than doing. It’s one thing to sit in a Bible class or sermon and hear the preacher or teacher say “This is what the Word of God says and how important it is that we give heed to that”, we may even agree with every statement that he makes.  But when it comes down to application of those principles in our day-to-day life, it becomes more difficult.

5 types of hearers: (vs 22-25)

  1. THE SELF-DECEIVED HEARER

David deceived himself into believing that everything he had done could be justified until Nathan rebuked him.  Someone says “The toughest man to deal with is the man in the mirror.” That’s the danger of being self-deceived (vs 22)

  1. THE PUNITIVE HEAR

The punitive hearer is the one who believes that a good tongue lashing straightens everything out.  I know there are those who, sit in the pews and listen to a preacher spending some time in rebuke, exhortation and reproof and they come out and say, “Well, he really gave it to us this morning, didn’t he?” “Well, that’s right. You know, he really has good points that really struck me, that really hurt,”  And yet, from that point forward, they really do nothing to change their lives.  Here, James is talking about those who hear but make no change, deceiving themselves.

  1. THE SUBSTITUTE-FINDING HEARER

There are others who want to substitute. Those who want to substitute the 2 hours hearing for a week of working. They believe that as long as they come in and occupy their places on the pew and sit through the sermon, God is pleased with that and that’s all that is. Nothing can be further from the truth. They are deceiving themselves.

  1. THE FORGETFUL HEARER

James talks about the very distinct possibility of being a forgetful hearer in vs 25. He uses a very good illustration in vs 24, of a looking mirror, how that one can look into the mirror and can see the corrections that need to be made and yet as soon as they turn away and walk away from that, they begin to be occupied with something else, they forget what corrections needed to be made. How easy it is for us to do the same thing with God’s word, whether we are listening to a sermon, whether we are studying the word for ourselves, or sitting in a Bible class, recognizing that there are corrections that need to be made, recognizing that there is Christian spiritual progress that needs to be made yet, no sooner than getting across the parking lot and into our car, we forget the urgency of that message. This is one of the greatest spiritual dangers that can step into a Christian’s life – the tendency to forget.

  1. THE OBEDIENT HEARER

The good news is, James says, there are some believers who are not self-deceive, who are not forgetful.  There are some, in vs 22, who are obedient, that is, they are actually doers of the word and His commands.  John deals with that in 1 John 5:3 when he says, For this is the love of God that ye keep my commandments.”  Notice this, His commandments are not grievous.  The one who is motivated properly by the love for God, His commandments are not grievous to him.  He is the obedient hearer, he looks at every aspect of God’s will for his life and says, “Hey that’s not only the right thing to do, that’s a smart thing to do.  I appreciate God for steering me away from the wrong course of action or thinking.  He doesn’t find his endeavor to practice God’s word in that regard, a tedious or a grievous thing but something that makes his life better.

WHAT GOD HAS COMANDED MAN TO DO?

Man must look into the perfect law of liberty. (James 1:25) Study is not only a Christian’s duty but also a Christian’s privilege. We must study God’s word in order to handle it right.  2 Timothy 2:15 and 1 Peter 2:2 challenge us to long for the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby.

Conclusion

Jesus concluded His sermon on the Mount by emphasizing the importance of obedient hearing.  Matthew 7:21-23, “Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in thy name?” “I never knew you if you don’t do the will of the Father which is in heaven.”

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DO I HAVE TO COME ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT?

By Dee Bowman

I am not here to argue whether or not the Scriptures anywhere specifically state that a Christian must attend every service. Such isn’t necessary in the first place. But to argue that we don’t have to be at every service is to show an amount of disregard for the purpose for these Wednesday night services, as well as the Sunday morning Bible classes (those who don’t attend one usually don’t attend the other).  These assemblies are not planned to test faith, nor to hang bags of burdens around the people’s necks; they’re planned to help people grow and mature in the faith.  Realization of that one simple fact will go a long way to help cure the problem of a lack of attendance at Sunday morning classes or Wednesday night services.

Please allow me to cite a few things about the mid-week services particularly that will perhaps encourage you to attend if you haven’t been doing so – and to encourage your continuance if you already do so. Hang on!

Wednesday night services provide a refreshing oasis in the midst of our parched and difficult environs. We live in perilous times (II Timothy 3:1), times where it seems people are actually disinterested in morality, especially if it gets in the way of what they want to do. We must operate in a “wicked and perverse generation” at times (cf. Philippians 2:15), and that’s just not easy. Enter the Wednesday night services.

The Wednesday night services give us a brief respite from the hot weather in which we have to live all the while.  To the God-fearing Christian, Wednesday night services are like a cool, refreshing drink of water on a hot day.

Wednesday night services help us keep our guard up. We are under constant attack, brethren.  We have to keep our defences up if we want to deflect the constant volleys from the world.  That today’s Christian must defend himself is obvious.  He is attacked at every turn.  That obviously calls for good defensive measures.  A good defence calls for two things: good equipment, and a good strategy.  The equipment is mentioned in Ephesians 6.  If we are to stand firmly, we need truth to gird our loins; righteousness for our breastplate; feet shod with the preparation of the gospel; a shield of faith; and a helmet of salvation.  All these implements are necessary to be constantly on guard against the advances of evil.  And prayer. Prayer is a large part of our stratagem.  We need prayer! And prayer is wont to be made at every Wednesday night service (in fact, in some places, the Wednesday night services are often referred to as “Prayer Meeting”).  It’s hard to fight off the enemy if you don’t have anything to fight with.

Wednesday night services help with our personal discipline. Godly people operate in a disciplined way.  Discipline helps defuse our indifference, inspire our activities.  The discipline is called in scripture, “the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11).  It is those oracles which constitute the will of the Father and only by subservience to them can we glorify Him while equipping ourselves for opposing the constant onslaught we face.  But we are sometimes like little children, needing constant, regularly imposed discipline that we may keep on the proper pathway.  We must have regular reminders and strict surveillance or we’re apt to just drift off course. Wednesday night services help keep us motivated, concerned, actuated.

Wednesday night services offer a refuelling stop as we run life’s race. No person can exist spiritually for very long without some sort of maintenance. We must refuel, if nothing else. And one of the best fuel stops for the Christian is to pull into the station on Wednesday night. I don’t know about you, but I have often come from work tired and weary, and thinking to myself, “I just don’t think I’ll go tonight.” But instead of giving in, I have pushed myself to go on. And many is the time when I was rejuvenated by having gone on to services. I came away ready to roll, prepared to get on with my Christian life. The Wednesday night services are a way for gaining new energy, for revitalizing the spirit, for re-inspiring our hope, thereby putting new energy in our walk.

Wednesday night services are just good for you. No right-thinking, spiritually-minded person would deny that. It’s just good for you to be there. “You can’t find a passage that say we have to be there on Wednesday nights,” you say? Maybe not, but I can sure come close. What about James 4:17? It says, “to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin?” Is it a good thing to attend on Wednesday night? Is it good to sing with the saints, to pray with them, to share with them in a study of God’s word? You have any other questions?

What will you do?  First, those who need to consider these truths probably tossed this article aside when they saw the title. But perhaps, just perhaps someone who needs to attend on Wednesday night and has not being doing so will take the time to read and consider this little piece and decide to come. It’s written because we care. How about you?


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Does a Congregation have Authority for a Midweek Service? (2)

by Wayne S. Walker

It is clear that God wants His people to assemble, because they are told “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). The purpose for the assembling as a church is specified in other passages — worship (John 4:24) and edification (I Corinthians 14:26). Thus, for the church to assemble for eating a common meal, recreation, or entertainment is not authorized. However, while the church must have a place to assemble, the “where” to assemble is not specified. It is generic. Whether a church borrows, or rents, or purchases, or builds a place to assemble, if it is coming together for worship and edification, it is simply doing what God said. For a church to own a building is not an addition to God’s word; it is merely an expedient in carrying out what God authorizes. God did not have to say anything about a building. The church must have a place to meet, so it is included in the command to assemble and any reasonable place to meet is merely an expedient.

This brings us to the question of midweek services. As we have seen, by example and necessary inference, God has authorized the local church to meet on the first day of every week. However, does this mean that the church is authorized to meet ONLY on the first day of the week? It would IF it met the text of universality, but it does not. In other words, is every example in scripture of a church’s assembling only on the first day of the week? The answer is no. In Acts 2:46 we are told of the church in Jerusalem that it was “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.” I understand this to make a distinction between what they did as a church, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and what they did as individuals, breaking bread from house to house.

Thus, the church in Jerusalem, at least for a time, continued “daily” with one accord in the temple, the place where it appears that they assembled for worship and learning the apostles’ doctrine (cf. Acts 2:42). The question might be raised: does this “example” mean that the local church must meet daily? Again, if it met the test of universality, it might, but it does not. There is no indication that it was a universal practice of churches in the first century to meet daily. In Acts 14:27, we read of Paul and Barnabas in their return to Antioch from their first preaching trip that “when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them.” This implies that the church was not assembled on the day when they came back. If the church in Antioch were assembling daily, there would be no need to “gather the church together” because it would already be assembling every day.

What this does mean is that if a congregation decided to meet every day, it would be generally authorized, and in fact there are times such as during gospel meetings when a church will do this. Now, if it is generally authorized for a church to meet every day in the week, it is just as generally authorized for a church to pick one day out of the week (in addition to the specified first day of the week) to assemble. One function of the church is “the edifying of the body of Christ” or “the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:12, 16). The when and how of this edifying are not specified. As we have seen, the book of Acts shows that the edifying done in the early church was not limited to the first day of the week.

Therefore, God did not have to say anything specific about midweek (or Sunday evening) services. When a church meets for a midweek service, it is not violating any principle of scripture but is simply doing precisely what the New Testament authorizes it to do as it seeks to accomplish “the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Finally, is it necessary for the members of the local church to attend such midweek services? Of course, we recognize that there are times when situations beyond a person’s control, such as sickness, or the fulfilment of other God-given responsibilities, such as providing for one’s family, might make it necessary for one to miss an occasional service. But we are asking about when a person is able and chooses not to attend. Is that wrong? Someone might answer no because such services are not commanded. It is true that they are not commanded, and I have known of faithful churches which, for various reasons, chose not to conduct midweek services. That is their right. However, when a local church does agree to conduct midweek services for the edification of members, there is a responsibility for those who are members of that congregation to support its work to the very best of their ability.

The local church is not just a club or civic organization, though even these groups often have rules that if you miss so many meetings you cannot be a member. The local church is a spiritual relationship. The fact that “we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25) places various obligations upon us. After Saul had “tried to join the disciples” in Jerusalem and been accepted, “he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out” (Acts 9:25-28). If I am a member of a local church, it means that in my relationship to the other members I am to be “with them.” How can I do this when I habitually absent myself from those times when they choose to meet together? Thus, we conclude that it is generally authorized by the scriptures for churches to conduct midweek assemblies, and that if at all possible the members of that congregation need to be present.


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Does a Congregation have Authority for a Midweek Service? (1)

by Wayne S. Walker

While I do not think that I have never actually known anyone who has taught this, I have heard that there have been brethren who argued that a local congregation is authorized to assemble only on the first day of the week and therefore it is unscriptural to have a midweek service. I have even heard that there have been some who affirmed that the church is authorized to meet onlyonce on Sunday and that a Sunday evening service is also wrong. Thus, the question for this article is: are midweek assemblies of a local congregation unauthorized and therefore unscriptural, or does a church have scriptural authority for conducting them?

For many years, midweek services of some kind (they used to be called “prayer meetings,” but we have usually identified them as “midweek Bible studies”) have been a practice, custom, habit, or “tradition” among churches of Christ, as well as with various denominational churches, although in many religious organizations they are less common now as these groups strive to make their activities more “convenient” to people’s busy schedules. However, while I am sure that we have all heard sermons against mere “traditions” in religion, to say that the midweek service is a “tradition” does not necessarily make it wrong. The fact is that a “tradition” is simply something that is handed down.

Some traditions are divine in origin and therefore must be kept. Other traditions of human origin are sinful because they violate some teaching of scripture or become wrong because they are bound on the same level as divine tradition. Yet, there are traditions which are absolutely harmless and, in fact, accomplish good. To make sure that all things are done decently and in order (I Corinthians 14:40), some churches establish a custom or tradition for their order of worship (e.g., two songs, a prayer, a song, the sermon, the invitation, the Lord’s supper, the collection, a closing song, and a prayer). They do not bind this “tradition” as equivalent to a revelation from God, but it serves a useful purpose of helping the worshippers know what to expect and moving the service along in an orderly fashion.

Before we can answer the question as to whether midweek services are authorized or not, we must first determine from the scriptures how things are authorized in the religion to begin with. A thing may be authorized by direct command or an express statement that has the force of a command. We are to keep the Lord’s commandments (John 14:15; I John 5:3). For example, Jesus commanded His disciples to observe the Lord’s Supper, and Paul repeated that command for the church (Matthew 26:26-29; I Corinthians 11:23-26).A thing may also be authorize by approved apostolic example. In fact, the inspired apostle Paul told us to follow his example and that of others who so walk as a pattern, and then commanded us, “The things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 3:17; 4:9). While Jesus commanded us to observe the Lord’s supper, He did not specifically tell us when, but we do so on the first day of the week because we have an approved apostolic example to show that it is acceptable with God (Acts 20:7).

Or a thing may be authorized by a necessary inference or conclusion drawn from scriptural facts. We have a command to observe the Lord’s Supper and an approved apostolic example concerning the day, but we necessarily infer that since the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread and every week has a first day then the Lord wants us to come togetheron the first day of every week to observe the Lord’s supper, just as the Jews necessarily inferred that the command to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8) meant the Sabbath of every week because every week has a Sabbath or seventh day.

We must also understand the nature of authority. Some authority is specific and some is generic. For example, if I simply tell my son to go down to the store and buy a loaf of bread, that does not authorize him to buy candy. However whether he gets Wonder White Bread or Home Pride Whole Wheat Bread or even Hearth Farms Potato Bread, he has done just what I told him todo — buy a loaf of bread. On the other hand, if I specify the kind of bread, then he is authorized to purchase that specific kind and no other. God told Noah to “make yourself an ark of gopher wood” (Genesis 6:14). As to kind of wood, God was specific; making an ark of gopher wood did not authorize the use of pine, oak, or any other kind. However, the command to build is generic.God did not specify how to make it. Even though God did not specifically say that Noah could use a hammer, a saw, or whatever, the generic command to make an ark necessarily included any tools required to do so.

It is fairly easy to see how these principles apply to various activities in the work and worship of the church. Jesus told His followers to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). He was specific as to what — the gospel. Thatdoes not include worldly wisdom, human doctrines, or man-made creeds. Hence they are unauthorized and unscriptural. If one preaches those things, he is not preaching the gospel. However, “preach” is fairly generic as to how. Whether one simply speaks, or uses a blackboard, or a chart on a bed sheet, or an overhead projector, or a PowerPoint presentation, or a radio, or a television, he is still doing just what Christ said — preaching the gospel. God did not have to say anything about any of these means and methods for them to be authorized. The fact that he told us to preach includes any means and methods that are needed or helpful in accomplishing the purpose.

We are commanded to sing in worship (I Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19). Sing itself is a specific kind of music, and playing on an instrument or even accompanying with an instrument is not included. With the addition of instrumental music, one ceases merely to sing. Also the “what” to sing is specified — psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (cf. Colossians 3:16). This eliminates folk, pop, rock, and in fact any other kind of songs. However, the “how” to sing is not specified. It is generic. Now, God never said anything about song books, but we have to have some way to obtain the words to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We could memorize them, or have them read them to us by someone, or use song books. If we choose to use a song book, we are not adding anything to the worship. We are still doing just what God told us to do — singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. God did not have to say anything specific about song books. They are simply an expedientin carrying out God’s commands.