Category Archives: Articles

Obedience By Philip North

To live full obedience to God is most wise,
For doing Him wrong means a different demise
Your life will be much more rewarding and sure,
When making God happy, which for you, proves secure

True joy does await you when God is obeyed,
So do not at all by the Tempter be swayed
Our Maker knows what is the best for our lives,
While only on trouble and hurt Satan thrives

Obeying the Lord means much joy and hope,
For showers of blessings will broaden your scope
A full satisfaction will stem from all this,
As real inner peace will be yours, also bliss

Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise
Refuse to be tricked by the Devil’s disguise
He wants you to listen to him, not to God,
As long as you live, and wherever you trod

Your body, your tongue, your mind, and your heart,
Should focus on God with each fiber and part
The real erudition of what must be heard,
Is found solely within that book—-His Word

God’s Bible will guide you through all of your life,
Neglect it, and you ask for heartache and strife
The true man of wisdom can see all the way,
That serving one’s self makes for going astray

Be humble and careful to seek merely truth,
Live only for Him, like the beloved Ruth
Keep looking to better yourself here on earth,
By seeking the Kingdom of God and its worth

Whatever God says is His good book is right,
Believe all you read, do not hamper your plight
You live but just once, there is no second chance,
Make up your mind now to take up the right stance!

Just guessing salvation is yours means all nil,
So you must know well, and for sure, His good will
Relieve every fear, all impediment and doubt,
And grasp what obeying God is all about!

Yes! Honor Jehovah, His every command,
Then ever so firmly and straight you will stand
Do not learn the hard way when time is no more,
That obeying God makes for true Heavenly store!

God’s Work Is Everywhere By Philip North

God’s work is everywhere,
Which all of man should know

He blesses all Creation,
And supplies the breeze to blow

Our Creator is not far from us,
As Paul said long ago

For in Him all of us do live,
Walking to and fro

The Maker’s grace guides every move,
With mystery much not solving,

All function of terrestrial,
Rotating and revolving

Celestial too is loved and cared,
No matter big or small

Not one thing goes without a purpose,
God’s hand is in it all

Precision, care, and timing,
He never missed a lick

The Father of perfection
Knows every tock and tick

All plans came from Jehovah’s mind,
He is THE God supernal!

Most infinite and matchless are
His makeup’s being eternal

Once can’t observe the works of God,
Without the feel of awe

Since each emits with love and warmth,
Accompanying a law

So much exists on this vast earth,
With versatility

No mind of man can e’er contain
Such great ability

The noises of all insects,
The colors—-there are many

The beauty of the Universe,
Its contents are quite plenty

The sun, the moon, the planets,
Along with every star

Are beautiful and gorgeous,
Though viewed from much afar

The Lord displays His Majesty,
His wisdom shows so deep

Each element of every whit,
Makes us amazingly weep

God’s work is in the physical
And spiritual also

How tis, therefore, with all He’s done,
Can we BEGIN to know?

The conscience and emotions,
We can’t with our hands touch

Yet, still they both are present,
Yes, oh so very much

Likewise with all else seen and not,
As well as with what’s seen

The glorious appearance glows,
What magnificence and sheen!

The human race, the animals,
The fowls, and all sea creatures

Appear in different shapes and sizes,
Quite different are their features

The raw materials we have
To utilize each day

Came from Almighty God above,
That is the ONLY way!

We must depend on our good Maker,
We should so recognize

That without His good providence,
All of Creation dies

What’s in this world in its own way
Praises God on high

Just study Psalm 148,
And you will find out why

So understand NOW all the way,
And miss its meaning not

God’s wondrous works are bountiful,
For we are blessed a lot

Our baskets overflow with much,
We just can’t figure out

The love and beauty of our Lord,
He spreads Himself about

Let us be sentimental,
Let us be thankful wholly,

Let us completely recognize
To worship Him—-and SOLELY!

He is a God too wonderful,
Too loving, and too good,

To not have His works analyzed
As spell-bound, for we should

The works of God! Let us echo them
Every day on earth

But we can never truly rate
Their ecstasy and worth!

Boasting By Philip North

This subject can be named a lot in other words and phrases,
It leaves the shy-and too, the humble-in big dismay and dazes

For boasting of oneself turns off those striving to live godly,
They look upon the big, big blowhard as being of the oddly

The constant act of bragging, yes, of tooting one’s own horn,
Shows much inflation of the pride and makes the modest scorn

Whatever talents you may have, along with PROPER knowledge,
Originated from the Lord, and not from self or college

Disgust, disdain, and great distaste, along with much askance,
Emote from those who hear the bragger missing not a chance

What’s more, the Lord HIMSELF deplores this one in such a scene!
TO see exactly what is meant, see Proverbs 6:16

There also are a lot of other verses in God’s Word,
Denouncing complimenting self; don’t let this e’er be heard

This application also goes for those who possess power,
Who always throw their weight around, which is so grossly sour!

So if you wish to have your fellowman not you respect,
Just boast away with all your breath, and hate you will collect

Too, always let humanity know YOU’RE the one “in charge!”
And talk about your know-how and abilities at large

Inform the world, yes, ALL you see, of just how “great” you are!
Make CERTAIN all those in your presence hear that you’re a “star!”

Refuse all counsel and advice about how this is wrong,
Slough off the ones who say that you should not sing YOUR own song

But then, don’t wonder that you may not have but so few friends!
WHY is this so? ‘Tis all because your bragging never ends!

You need to DRAW mankind to you, not SHUN you, not REPEL!
However, flattering oneself will send much folk pell-mell

The whole idea is only to let OTHERS on you brag,
But let it be by THAT, dear soul! Stop pounding YOUR own bag!

Through all of this, we all must bear in mind in every way,

That braggadocios of SELF help none on Judgment Day!

Forgiveness Is A Two-Way Street By Philip North

Much has been preached, taught, and written on how mankind, especially Christians, should and must practice forgiveness. No doubt, it is a command, not a mere option. After saying what has come to be known by many as “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus said the following in His Sermon on the Mount: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:13-14). Then upon completion of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Christ also said, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:35). These words were spoken because in that parable, the lord of this unmerciful servant delivered him to the tormentors for not forgiving a small debt owed to him by a fellow servant, while he himself owed a much bigger debt to his lord (Verses 32-34). Paul mentioned the necessity of forgiving in some of his epistles (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Certainly, it is seen how the New Testament shows forgiveness to be a necessity for us all—-not just the best thing to do, nor merely “good advice.”

However, like most anything else in life, there is a misuse and an abuse of forgiveness practiced by some, yea, perhaps many, and such ought not to be. There are individuals who definitely frustrate this command! When someone repeatedly wrongs somebody else, either by maliciously committing the same sin(s) constantly to another person, or by simply wronging the same individual constantly, the appeal is made often to what the Bible says about forgiving someone “seventy times seven.” That is to say, it must always be done, no matter how many times someone is wronged by the same person. While Jesus does tell Peter that one must be forgiven “seventy times seven” in Matthew 18:22, the book of Luke has something interesting to say on this. In chapter 17:34, Jesus said to His disciples, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying, I repent: thou shalt forgive him.” (Emphasis in italics, mine-PN)

Gentle reader, this shows that the one committing the wrong(s) needs to have a penitent heart! Jesus clearly and unavoidably said, “if he repent.” Let the reader please not let those important words of Christ go unheeded. Every effort should be made not to continue in one’s sinning against that other person! It appears that many people tend to “hide behind” this verse, (like untold numbers cowardly “hide behind” the 5th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution!) while they continue wronging the same individual time and time again, and/or carelessly, repeatedly commit the same wrong(s) to that same individual! “Repent” means “turn away from.” It means to make a 180-degree move, known in the military as an “about face.” Hence, the one seeking forgiveness should be sincere in doing so. God demands it. Our Creator does not wish for us to, as the old saying goes, “play upon someone’s sympathies.” This is every whit toying with that person’s temperament and merciful side! When Paul wrote on this, he said in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (Emphasis in italics, mine again-PN). True repentance must carry with it “godly sorrow,” and it must, therefore, be “after a godly manner.” Only then can it be said that this individual “sorrowed to repentance,” and thus, truly repented.

Indeed, forgiveness too is a “two-way street,” as we just plainly noted in the Bible. Yes, the one who has been wronged must forgive. Howbeit, the one who committed the wrongdoing MUST TRULY REPENT! The offender who, again, misuses and abuses the “seventy times seven” command by Jesus needs to correct his heart. He needs to realize—-and accept—-that the Saviour Himself said true repentance must be felt. To continually try someone’s patience and tolerance level is not approved by God. “Godly sorrow” must be in one’s heart. Otherwise, how can once expect God to forgive him of his own sins? He need not, for Satan still has that one in his clutches. Such behaviour manifests this type of person to be nervy, defiant of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), lacking in self-discipline, and void of true spirituality.

Memories From A Pulpit By Philip North

In Nehemiah 8:4-8, we find the following said about the minor prophet Ezra, as he stands before the reuniting of God’s chosen people, who had returned from Babylonian exile: “And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Ruijah, and Hilkiah, and Masselah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pediah, and Mishawl, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Anariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”

A great many pulpits used in the churches of our Lord in this country and abroad are made of the very substance the pulpit was made of that godly Ezra stood behind—-wood (verse 4). Not surprisingly, these Jews were now ready to be quite receptive to the Word of God, after spending 70 long years exiled in Babylon! They showed reverence to the Creator by lifting up their hands and bowing their heads to the earth.

I would like to share my memories of a certain pulpit made of wood. This pulpit, for a great many years, stood in the meetinghouse of the Spring & Blaine congregation in south St. Louis. This church met on 3800 Blaine Avenue, which was on the corner of (guess!) Spring and Blaine Avenues, from the mid 1930’s to 1973. Like a lot of churches back then, they started out assembling in a basement, then erected an auditorium over the basement. When the neighborhood escalated in crime, the brethren then moved to the Affton area, a nearby suburb, where their building was located on the corner of Valcour Drive and Weber Road. They remained there from mid 1974 until the very end of 2007. Upon relocating from south St. Louis, they took, along with many other items from their former building, that very same pulpit. When I attended the final service of this congregation on the eve of December 30th of aforementioned year, the pulpit was yet there. Over the years, like anything else material and physical, this wide piece of wood had aged and somewhat deteriorated. I viewed this pulpit (a.k.a. a podium) after that final service, stood behind it for a few short moments, and some of the wonderful memories then began to flow.

This was the same pulpit where many a fulltime preacher stood behind and did their best to “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Likewise was the case with many a visiting preacher conducting a gospel meeting at this congregation, along with those men, some of whom were student preachers, who were there for just a Sunday engagement. More sermons than one could shake a stick at were declared from this podium. I reflected upon this from time to time while still attending this congregation. Yours truly also preached behind this stand a few times, although this pulpit was not the first one for me to use in which to declare God’s Word. So many preacher’s names come to mind, some of whom later on down the road of life, said to say, went off into doctrinal error. Among those preachers whom I remember seeing behind this pulpit, both fulltime at Spring & Blaine, along with holding meetings there, were T.T. Carney, Wilson Wallace, William Wallace, Foy E. Wallace, Jr., John Gerrard, Grover Stevens, Ferrell Jenkins, Jimmy Tuten, Jr., Homer Hailey, C.D. Plum, Bob Owen, Harry Pickup, Jr., Marshall Patton, Franklin T. Puckett, Robert Jackson, James P. Miller, W. Curtis Porter, and ever so many more who stood behind this structure of wood to preach the Word of God with power and from their hearts. What sweet memories! Memories that nobody can take away from me! This goes for even Satan himself!

One day while my father (who served as a deacon, then later as an elder, before having to resign by reason of age) and I were cleaning the auditorium the Saturday following the conclusion of another gospel meeting that previous night, I remarked to him how so many preachers have stood behind that pulpit. In referring to an elder there at Spring & Blaine, Dad replied, “To told Brother Granvil Sewell recently that there’s been enough preachers in that pulpit to save the world, if the people would only listen!” How true, given the age of this congregation even at this particular year, which was 1969. If the people would only listen! Of course, “if” though quite numerically small in length of letters, is still a big word, nonetheless.

This very same pulpit of wood was also occupied by many song leaders, of which this writer was one for 7 years. On this particular point, I realize that the reader will most likely know either so few or none of these boys and men. However, among them, besides myself, were Kenneth Joel, Neil Anderson, Gene Paxon, Benjie Norris, Ralph Dean, Terry Corzine, Keith Majors, Albright Goodjohn, and various others. Too, there were many men who made the announcements and led public prayers from this pulpit. Of course, a great many of the evangelists, song leaders, announcers, and those who worded prayer from this podium have gone on to their final reward. That makes the memories all the more sweeter, for sure! No doubt, many of you who read this can also relate to these sentiments from the congregation where you come.

In all the 22 years I attended Spring & Blaine, I never really began to think much of a wooden pulpit’s containing so much history, (which continued for 37 more years after I left St. Louis, before the congregation finally dissolved) until that particular Saturday afternoon in 1969 while Dad and I were cleaning the auditorium.

In the hymnal known as “Sacred Selections of The Church,” edited by Ellis Crum, song #397, entitled “Precious Memories,” was changed in its third verse to read as follows, which very much echoes the sentiments of this writer:

In the stillness of the midnight,

Echoes from the past I hear

Saints are singing, brethren bringing,

Lessons from the book so dear

For the most part, this church of our Lord experienced a rich history, and I am glad that I was a part of this congregation of God’s people for 22 years of my life. I feel ever so thankful to the good Lord of Heaven having been raised in the truth, of which I still feel strongly true of today that this was so. Though the congregation is now gone, there are so many members I recall from there of whom the ever so very larger majority of encouraged me, were friendly, taught me the Bible, and truly cared for my soul. Of course, my faithful parents too played a role in this. I was baptized at the age of 14 ½ in the baptistery of this building.

Now there is not so much as such an address as 3800 Blaine Avenue, for the lot contains no building. For a number of years, there was only, if memory serves correctly, a grove of trees occupying that property, which later gave way to the present picnic area containing a small gazebo with a picnic table underneath it. What is more, the onetime Affton church building is, at this writing, currently occupied by a denominational group. My former “home church” is now just a memory. For this writer, there are so many “precious” memories of a congregation where I was indeed proud to call “home,” as I grew into adulthood. However, a large part of my mind concerning this one time wonderful group is occupied with the many men who, for various reasons and separate occasions, stood behind a wide piece of wood. Just like the Bible says of Jesus’ mother, where it reads, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart,” (Luke 2:19), so has this writer done likewise concerning large a certain large chunk of wood shared by many brothers in Christ.

Memories of a pulpit.

Memories By Philip North

These past few years have truly been a “stroll down Memory Lane.” In June of 2003, I attended the thirty-fifth reunion of my high school graduating class, then their picnic the next day. Some classmates I recognized right away, as the years had been good to them. But guess what? As for others, I had to view their senior photo they were wearing on their lapels, before I knew who they were. Time had changed many of them beyond recognition. Some of the men had lost their hair. Others had grey hair who had ANY hair! Many of the ladies had greyed too, and a few of them, not surprisingly, were now maintaining their hair color out of a certain bottle. All of us had a great time, reuniting after many years, and sharing memories of by-gone days. Sadly, too, of course, there was a poster with photos of students now deceased. That part of the occasion was sobering, to be sure.

Then in April of 2004, I conducted a gospel meeting for the Oak Grove Heights church in Paragould, Arkansas. This too was a special time for me, since both sides of my family hail from this general area. While there, I met a cousin I never saw before. I also visited four cemeteries, one of which contained the graves of my parents. The other three had various relatives and past acquaintances buried there. Like my school reunion, these visits produced solemn moments. The relatives still alive, would you believe, had gotten older! Some had grown feeble. My, how things had changed!

May of 2004 found me in another gospel meeting; this one in East Alton, Illinois. During that week, Christians I knew from my youth up visited there, thus, reuniting with me. It was good to see them. One elderly woman remembered me when I was first born. It was another time for recollections.

Then there was the annual family reunion on my mother’s side which, for many years, took place in Van Buren, Missouri, but now is conducted in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. This always occurs the last weekend in July. Like any reunion, memories were shared, along with catching up to do from the previous year(s). This gathering has taken place for over 45 consecutive years now. You know, it’s truly something how the relatives now attending have really CHANGED since its beginning! Too, the same identical people are not attending anymore!

Indeed, in these last few years, many memories of this writer’s life have flowed like a river. It is life’s usual cycle. Time passes. Life and people change. People die. New generations are born. Then, the cycle begins anew. Like most all other experiences in life, there are lessons to draw.

Life is so short. We are here today and gone tomorrow (or some day after that). We grow old gradually. Our physical body alters by reason of time and age. We never know when we see another day if that will be our final one, but we know it will be one day. James 4:13-14 says, “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

At our birth, there was no guarantee how long we would be given upon God’s earth. It was not at all certain that we would reach the age we are now. People of all ages die, and all who live long enough grow elderly and SURELY die! Nothing in life stays the same. It is birth, change, death; birth, change, death: etc. The same people living today are not the same ones living ten years ago, five years ago, one year ago, or even yesterday. Ecclesiastes 1:4 says, “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” The earth survived long before any of us were born, and it will do so after we depart this life, until God ends time.

On the other hand, what is life without memories? Though like anyone else, while I’ve had bad memories come to mind periodically, I’ve also had many, many more good ones resurface. After one lives awhile, you remember many styles and fads that have come and gone, and some resurface from time to time. A lot of memories often hit either “out of the blue,” or when reuniting with a friend or relative. You recall the funny—-the sentimental—-the tragic—-the embarrassing—-the shenanigans—the events you attended—-the successes—-the failures—-the regrets—-places you lived—-places visited—-and you miss more and more those departed loved ones, both family member and friend. Their departure has left a void in one’s life.

Then in May of 2005, I visited the congregation where I grew up in St. Louis. So many of those saints I had known there in the past had gone on to their final reward. Most of the few still remaining have grown very aged. Three verses of scripture come to mind on this: In Psalm 116:15, the writer says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Next, in Revelation 14:13, John declares, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” Then, there is Numbers 23:10, where Balaam says of Jacob in the latter part of the verse, “…Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end by like his.” What a wonderful church where I attended, what great elders, preachers, and teachers who influenced me, and what constant encouragement as a song leader I received from ever so much of the membership! I wonder if I will ever fully realize how abundantly blessed I was! Of course, I owe a lot to my parents who tried to teach me right from wrong. Who could fault them for that?

I love life, as I hope the reader does too. In spite of some people whose paths I wished I had never crossed, still, there are so many more whom I’m glad I met in my life. However, there are dandelions and thorns one must endure while on this earth. For me, life has contained so much more good than bad. I am most thankful to God for this.

Count your blessings, gentle reader. When you do, you will most likely find your baskets overflowing. Live life to the fullest in all areas; but live it for the Lord, for one day, this physical life will stop for you and this writer. Live, love and laugh. Have a sense of humor, for those are the weapons of the angels.

To all the young people reading this article, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The latter part of Revelation 2:10 says, “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” May Heaven be the final home for all of you at last!

(Edited from the bulletin “The Ozark Weekly Messenger,” published weekly for the Eagle Rock Road Church of Christ in Branson, Missouri—-October 24, 2004—-PN)

Sophistry By Philip North

The subject under consideration is defined by Webster’s Dictionary to simply mean, “(1) deceptively subtle reasoning or argumentation. (2) SOPHISM.” The definition of sophism will shed additional light on sophistry. The word is defined as, “(1) an argument apparently correct in form, but actually invalid, .such as an argument used to deceive. (2) SOPHISTRY.”

From these definitions, we may for sure illustrate sophistry in two words, which would be, “smooth talking!” In turn, there are a number of words very much synonymous with smooth talking: Deceit, guile, lying, trickery, manipulation, flattery, and connivery. Then, take note of various phrases that fit smooth talking: Silver tongued, eloquent arguing, seductive reasoning, alluring speech, and deceptive persuasion. While some of the aforementioned words and phrases are not always referred to in a negative way, such is definitely the case when sophistry enters into the picture.

Sophistry then, obviously, when used, applies in a number of ways: (1) A pedophile seeking his prey, (2) An adulterer/adulteress attempting to fulfill sexual desires in an ungodly way, (3) A job seeker lying by one or more means to obtain employment, such as falsifying an application (4) The politician seeking votes in order to be elected, (5) The gold digger/gigolo after somebody’s wealth, especially of the opposite gender, (6) Someone hunting to rent a house or apartment somewhere, and so, like the previously mentioned job seeker, falsifies the application, (7) A person vying to reach a certain goal through dishonest intentions, and (8) An individual (falsely so) wanting to prove that “the end justifies the means.” More examples could be used, but these given should more than suffice to prove this writer’s point.

Many persons existing who want their way all or most of the time will definitely employ sophistry. This method is also used to seize control of an individual, business, or a sought after position. Sophistry can be applied to part of what the young evangelist Timothy would have to face in the way of “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1). Verses 6-8 say of such a breed of people, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” One can easily see by these passages that denominationalism, religious cults, sectarianism, splinter groups, and such like are products of this means known as sophistry. So, this culprit is of no value whatsoever to man’s soul!

There are those lowdown enough to use sophistry on their friends who trusted them to act otherwise, on their own mother and father, on their own children, on their boss, etc. Many will stop at absolutely nothing in the way of sophistry, if they feel such will bring about some sort of gratification, power, material gain and/or notoriety. They will use people as “stepping stones” to achieve their “victories!” One fictitious character remarked, when asked how he managed to live with himself in regards to how he was constantly wronging others, “When you get rid of the honesty and integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.” Another example of sophistry is in the area of retail sales—-or any category of sales, for that matter. Lying, manipulation, and guile are used by some in this area in order to sell that product or service, so one can make that “commission.” Indeed, sophistry can desensitize the conscience, along with making many, many enemies, including some powerful enemies! Meeting early graves, broken marriages, divided churches, dissolved friendships, and closure of businesses have come about, due to sophistry. This sin is most disgusting! You see, like all other sins, nobody likes being struck by sophistry—-including somebody else practicing sophistry!

While there is the possibility of practicing sophistry in any area of life, the category of false teachers must not be omitted here. The good Apostle Paul told the Roman brethren, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18). The terms “good words” and “fair speeches” would indicate sophistry as a tool being utilized here. The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 describes in quite detail sophistry, in regards to a certain brand of false teachers. Please read it and see. Sophistry loathes the complete truth on anything and everything, for this method seeks ill-gotten gain, both literally and figuratively. Therefore, this sneaky method of operation (known in the military as “M.O.”) will be despised and rejected by anyone seeking to live a thoroughly decent, wholesome, and honest life while on this earth. Both the old and New Testaments are listed with examples of sophistry.

Talk about deceit and seduction? While speaking His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20). Gentle reader, don’t underestimate the damnableness of false teachers and their Satanic doctrines! Search the scriptures on your own to see for yourself if what one says about the Bible is true, or if passages have been perverted (Acts 17:11; Philippians 2:12; 2 Timothy 2:15). Avoid their sophistry. Pay attention and listen fully to the Psalmist who declared, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. And a light unto my path (Psalm 119:104-105).

Surely, all of you who read this article can see how sophistry often gains respect from many unsuspecting people, (even the smartest of them!) in regards to unknowingly respecting the one(s) so cunningly practicing this devilish device! Would this fact not also tells us that many a person has wound up in jail and/or prison, due to sophistry? Indubitably!

Sophistry cheats! Gyps! Steals! Robs! Emotionally, mentally, and physically rapes! Deprives! Nets losses of both a literal and figurative nature! The extreme love many have for money has also brought about sophistry (I Timothy 6:10). Sophistry’s prey must often live with its consequences and versatile scars for life! May we avoid committing this dreadful act, along with striving to remain clear of being a victim to this (often) most hurtful menace!

No Man Hath Seen God At Any Time Philip North

Since the beginning of the human race, mankind has often allowed his emotions to rule his conduct. We are all familiar with the old adage, “letting one’s heart rule one’s mind.” This is as well done mistakenly in the affairs of everyday life, as well as in the realm of religion. Placing one’s feelings over proper judgment far too much has resulted in long term consequences, along with those consequences from which one has recovered.

Many people claim, amongst other things in religion, that they have seen the face and body of Jehovah God. They refer to various “dreams” and “visions” they say were experienced. However, no matter what be the assertion, the Bible is always right on everything, every time, and under every circumstance, due to its contents coming from the mind of an infinite, almighty, omniscient, and omnipresent mind—-that of God Himself. No other being could have that degree of mind, save our magnificent Creator. His mind is eternally unlimited, while our minds are all limited and temporary.

In all the places found in the New Testament stating most clearly that no human, save Jesus, has seen the face of God, each passage but one comes from the Apostle John. Consider the following verses:

John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

John 5:37, Jesus says, “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his face.”

John 6:46, Jesus further declares, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.”

I John 4:12: “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”

I Timothy 6:16 says of God, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

The verses are all self-explanatory, and thus, the truth is “spelled out” here. Therefore, this truth is either accepted or rejected, when it says that no human being, except for Christ, has actually seen the face (or any bodily area) of God.

Actually, our Maker is so mighty in His very appearance, that for any flesh of any kind to look upon his face would mean certain death. Since God is greater than all of His Creation, this has to mean that His countenance is even mightier than the sun itself! Can anybody look upon the sun for long and not go blind? Never in a million years, gentle reader!

Can proof of the above argument be shown? Yes indeed, and fully! Note the following passages where Moses is talking directly to God, and makes a request to see God’s actual form:

Exodus 33:18-23: “And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shall see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

Even righteous Moses, being the only human so fortunate as to see what God actually looked like from behind, was not allowed to see His face! Can the verses used in this article, especially the ones cited above, be any plainer? Definitely not! Look again at part of what God said to Moses: “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Moses would have died right there on the spot, had God permitted him to see His actual face. Such would have been no different with any other man, woman, boy, or girl who ever lived both before and after Moses, for again, God said, “there shall no man see me, and live.” Chapter 34 of Exodus, for that matter, tells how the face of Moses changed so much after seeing what God looked like from the back, he had to wear a veil when returning down from the mountain. What is more, the children of Israel noticed how the countenance of Moses was different. Too, the verses quoted from John and Paul earlier in this article are bolstered by those in Exodus.

Whatever the claim, regardless of how aggressive, sincerely, or emotionally made, that individual who says they saw God did not see Him! Such will not happen until the end of time, when only the righteous will see the whole of God’s indescribably beautiful features eternally in Heaven. Oh, how we long for that occasion!

Besides, how can human emotions rule over truth, when human emotions change like the weather and time of day? Truth itself never changes, where the Bible is concerned. The first part of Malachi tells us, “For I am the Lord, I change not;.” Hence, what God said to Moses, coupled with what Jesus stated, along with what Paul wrote under the pen of divine inspiration, still holds true today, as it will until time on earth ceases! Satan has a big grab bag of tricks he plays on mankind, and getting some people to believe they actually saw God’s form is only one of them (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). When one reads all that the Bible says on Satan, they will be equipped to recognize his umpteen lies and deceit (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15)!

After all is argued, claimed, and disagreed with, we get right back to what God’s precious and all true Word declares: “No man hath seen God at any time.”

The Secret Things By Philip North

In Deuteronomy 29:29, we find Moses saying to Israel, shortly before his death and their entry into Canaan, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” A footnote in one of my Bibles describes “secret things” as hidden realities. This verse contains a basic principle concerning divine revelation, and that is the following: People should keep in mind that God does not hold back from any accountable individual anything of benefit. Hence, mankind should completely avoid searching for unseen information. That is to say, man should not be investigating those things that God has not seen fit to reveal. We can safely aver that this verse is saying, “Do not whittle on God’s end of the stick.” Such is equivalent to “snooping around” on our Creator, and so, is wrong. God has His reasons for exercising some form of silence on some things, and we should respect that silence.

We are warned of the same thing in Colossians 2:18, where the Apostle Paul says, “Let no man beguile you or your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” Hence, when you and I read something in the Bible that, to us, has some type of a “mystery” attached to it, we must remember—-and accept—-that this “mystery” belongs to Jehovah God. Therefore, it is none of humanity’s business. One must simply trust God here and show a child-like faith in Him. When there is little or nothing else said on any particular topic or person, leave it at that.

One of the more popular “secret things” is in the form of a question: Will God save an individual who decides to be baptized, but dies before reaching the baptistery? The Bible does not say one way or the other, and I for one as a gospel preacher staunchly refuse to preach or teach it one way or the other for that very reason! If God sees fit in His supernal wisdom to grant grace to that individual, He will. If He does not see fit to do so, He will refuse. That is the only safe answer anybody can come up with, for remember that “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God.” All that is my duty to preach is what the Bible declares for an individual to do to be saved from his sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21). This goes likewise for any preacher or teacher of God’s Word. If there are to be any exceptions, they are for God to judge. Refrain from crossing the boundary line. All of us, preacher, teacher, or anybody, should stay on one’s own side of the fence.

Another of the more popular “secret things” that some people never seem to learn to avoid is predicting when the end of the world will take place. (Need I say that all have been wrong?) At the composing of this article, the next predicted date is May 21, 2011. To make this prediction sound like “the real thing,” the one prophesying this claim, Harold Camping of “Family Radio,” says, “The Bible guarantees it.” Mr. Camping has advertised this prediction on 55 radio stations, and has paid for over 2,000 full size bulletin boards all over the world on which to declare his belief. Think of the ridicule this man will receive in making such a fool of himself! (Gentle reader, if you are reading this article past the aforementioned date, guess what?) What is more, even if the end of time should come on any predicted day, such will be nothing more than a coincidence. Nobody knows, nor can anybody know.

Concerning the end of the world, Jesus Christ Himself said He did not know when that event would take place. He tells His apostles in Matthew 24:36-44, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the Flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

While Jesus is talking here about adequately preparing for the end of time, He is not saying when it will be. The Saviour makes it crystal clear that only His Heavenly Father knows exactly when that great day of days will occur. Even though Paul said in his famous sermon on Mars Hill about Jehovah God in the first part of Acts 17:31 that “.he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness.,” still, the exact month, year, and day are not mentioned there. In fact, that date is not so much as hinted in Paul’s words.

The two examples mentioned in this article, along with a number of other unknown things that man seeks the answer to, are “The secret things” that “belong unto the Lord our God.” Be careful on what you speculate. As it is, many people have a hard time accepting what God has revealed, let alone, on where God has chosen to remain silent.

The Greate Creator By Philip North

This whole Creation, vast and broad, 
Clothed with its makeup so unflawed 

Each small detail with so much cater, 
Comes from on High—-the great Creator

The skies and seas are warmly splendored, 
All animals are named and gendered, 

We all will own up sooner or later 
In crediting to the great Creator

All hills and mountains show their beauty, 
They too perform a special duty, 

All rocks and boulders came from a Pater 
He is that God, the great Creator

The vegetation on this earth 
Contains a rich and wholesome worth 

Such origins come from no hater, 
No! Twas born from the great Creator!

That galaxy so large and vast 
Could not this long keep fresh and last 

So do not scorn or be a baiter, 
For this stems from the great Creator

The waters flowing in this world 
Mankind did not create nor hurled 

That one who caused them is their dater 
Jehovah God, the great Creator

The tame, the wild, and in-between 
Birthed from a God who is unseen 

The lion, tiger, and the gator 
Came forth from Him, the great Creator

Each member of humanity, 
Has come about (I hope you’ll see) 

From one who needs no Pater or Mater, 
He is our Father, the great Creator

When mankind strays away from Him, 
When life seems out of sync and dim, 

There’s only one Defibrillator 
To restore all—the great Creator

All pieces of this Universe 
That mankind views as bad or worse 

The North Pole, South Pole, and Equator 
Were molded by the great Creator

The thunder, lightning, rain, and snow 
All phases of the winds that blow 

Are meted by a denominator 
The Lord of Heaven, the great Creator

No instigator or agitator 
Can GOODLY be a procreator 

Likewise, every bad meditator, 
For they are foes of the Great Creator

There’s so much more that could be said 
Believe not God? That’s MOST ill-bred!

Obey Him now and be His waiter, 
He OWNS you! He’s the great Creator!