On the night of His betrayal Jesus told the apostles, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35). This was not a suggestion from the Lord to the apostles. He was not just expressing a good idea. Nor was He simply giving some good advice. He characterized this instruction as a “commandment.”
Last Sunday was a momentous day for the Sunny Slope church of Christ. Five men- Travis Horton, North Witcher, Mark Grimes, Dwayne Kennedy and Gary Hutchens- were appointed as the first elders in the history of the congregation.
Just how important is it to be at services when the church meets? The beginning of a new year is an especially good time to consider this question. As Christians, we need to always be examining ourselves to make sure that our lives reflect true faithfulness (2 Cor. 13:5). But many people are reflecting on their lives more seriously right now than they normally would do.
This is the first Sunday of another new year. This is the thirty-eighth bulletin article that I have written marking the beginning of a new year, thirteen of them with this congregation. I have had the privilege of writing four articles marking the beginning of new decades and the most unique experience of writing one that marked a three fold new beginning: a new year, a new decade and a new millennium.
We’re in the midst of what is commonly called the Holiday Season. Personally, I like the holidays. I’m not crazy about the extreme commercialization that has progressively developed around them, but I like the holidays themselves. People seem to refocus, somewhat, and reflect more on their spiritual lives than they normally do during most of the rest of the year. That’s a good thing!
In a few days, multitudes of people in this country and around the world will supposedly celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Many will attend some kind of special church service in His honor. Others will simply feel special feelings about the Savior as they go about the day. Specific references to the birth of Christ will be uttered in prayers by some. A large number of people will get drunk!
We find the phrase “sound doctrine” used several times in the New Testament (1 Tim. 1:8-11; 2 Tim. 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1). The word doctrine simply means “teaching.” To qualify doctrine as being sound would identify it as being truthful, accurate, reliable, trustworthy. As applied to biblical teaching, sound doctrine would be teaching that accurately communicates God’s will by staying true to His word.
A great many people get faith and faithfulness mixed up. It’s not that they transpose the two terms in the way they use them. Rather, they use the terms as though they have exactly the same meaning. They do not! While related, faith and faithfulness nonetheless describe different concepts. Faith is not faithfulness. Many people have faith in God but live a life that exhibits anything but faithfulness to Him.
Does a congregation have to have elders? If yes, why? The answers to these questions are more important than many congregations might realize. Many congregations of the Lord’s church do not have elders. Some of these congregations have been established fairly recently, others have existed for many years. Our focus in answering these questions should be to make sure that we conform to the image of the church portrayed in the Bible.
Whenever a congregation is studying what the Bible teaches about elders, they need to strive to come to a good understanding as to just what an elder is. First, to develop a proper image of what an elder is, we can look to the meanings of the words used in scripture that refer to the position of an elder in the Lord’s church.
Gary L. Hutchens