Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Gospel Comes To Corinth | Book of Acts | church of Christ

The Gospel Comes To Corinth | Book of Acts | church of Christ

The Book of Acts

The Gospel Comes to Corinth
After a short stay at Athens, Paul travels west about forty-six miles to Corinth, the most influential city in the province of Achaia. Corinth was a cosmopolitan mix of religions and cultures.  The city was a great commercial center which every two years hosted the Isthmian Games, in honor of Poseidon.  In Paul’s day, multiple temples dotted the city.  These included one to Asclepius, the god of healing and to Aphrodite.  The latter came with a large number of temple prostitutes.  The city was known for its gross immorality.  (I Corinthians 6:9-11)  “Do you not know that the unrighteous well not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” NKJV  This is the next stop on Paul’s second missionary journey.
Text:  Acts 18:1-17
I.  Paul Meets with Aquila and Priscilla  Acts 18:1-4 “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.  And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.  So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.  And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.” NKJV
·  Paul finds Aquila and Priscilla who had been expelled from Rome by Claudius, the Roman emperor.  They were apparently already Christians who had a Jewish background.  This couple is mentioned in several of Paul’s epistles and would later be instrumental in converting Apollos.
·  Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers like Paul.  During the beginning of his work in Corinth, Paul supported himself, possibly to model a good work ethic or maybe as a matter of principle.
·  While tentmaking, every Sabbath he would be found in the synagogue reasoning with and trying to persuade the people,  no doubt, about Jesus Christ.
·  By examining Paul’s inspired writings, we see that a person preaching the gospel may be supported by his own means.  (I Thessalonians 2:9)  “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil;  for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.” NKJV  (II Thessalonians 3:7-9)  “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. NKJV  He also may be supported by the ones to whom he ministers.  (I Corinthians 9:6-11, 14)  “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?  Who ever goes to war at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit?  Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?  Do I say these things as a mere man?  Or does not the law say the same also?  For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’  Is it oxen God is concerned about?  Or does He say it altogether for our sakes?  For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.  If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if few reap your material things? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” NKJV  Or he may be supported by others than those to whom he is working.  (II Corinthians 11:8-9)  “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.  And when I was present with you, and in need, I was burden to no one,  for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied.  And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.  (Philippians 4:15-16)  “Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.  For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.” NKJV 
II.  Paul  Meets with A Tense Situation  Acts 18:5-11 “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus us the Christ.  But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’  And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.  Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household.  And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.  Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.’  And he continued there a year and six month, teaching the word of God among them.” NKJV
·  Paul had apparently sent Timothy and Silas to visit the Macedonian churches [Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea].  When they returned, they brought financial support for Paul’s ministry.  The arrival of Timothy and Silas prompted Paul to write First Thessalonians.
·  Paul testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  But he met with opposition and so disassociated himself from them.  He wanted them to know that they were in condemnation.  He had done his part.  (Ezekiel 33:1-9)  “Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them:  When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head.  He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself.  But he who takes warning will save his life.  But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’  So you, son of man:  I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel, therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’  and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way,  and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” NKJV
·  But there is some fruit from his preaching.  Crispus is personally baptized by Paul.  (I Corinthians 1:14)  “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,” NKJV
·  God tells Paul, “Stop being afraid.”  Apparently the apostle Paul was overwhelmed with fear.  Note I Corinthians 2:1-3.  “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” NKJV  God tells him why that he should stop being afraid.  So Paul stays there for a year and six months and writes Second Thessalonians. 
III.  Paul Meets with A Judge  Acts 18:12-17 “When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, ‘This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.’  And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you.  But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.’  And he drove them from the judgment seat.  Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat.  But Gallio took no notice of these things.” NKJV
·  Gallio was proconsul, chief judicial officer.  Corinth was the capital of Achaia. 
·  Paul being brought before him on religious charges was a very important event.
·  The Jews argued that Paul should be punished by the Roman government.  Gallio’s judgment was that questions of religion were outside his jurisdiction.  Teaching and following Christian doctrine did not violate Roman law. 
We learn from Paul’s actions that we need to trust God and not give up.  Keep asking people to attend church services; keep handing out tracts; keep telling others about our website.  There are some who will respond.
Bobby Stafford 
May 22, 2016 

Acts:  Lesson 38  Acts 18:1-17

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Blesseds Of Revelation

Five Blesseds of Revelation

Five Blesseds of Revelation

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Bobby StaffordFive Blesseds of Revelation        Revelation

Five Blesseds of Revelation

“It is the last message of God to man – the climax of all his written revelation.”  W. B. West, Jr.  The Book of Revelation is greatly neglected.  It means a revealing, an uncovering, an unveiling.  It was written to seven churches of Asia Minor.  Read Revelation 1:9-20. “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.’  Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.  And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘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.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.  The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands:  The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.’ ” NKJV
 The Theme is victory – triumph of the Kingdom of God.  Read Daniel 2:44. “In the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”  Revelation 11:15 “Then the seventh angel sounded:  And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” NKJV  The Kingdom of God would be victorious over the Roman Empire and all other world empires.  Nothing would stop it.
In this divine book, five blesseds are pronounced on different people.  These will be the object of our Bible study.
1.  Revelation 1:3  “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” NKJV  (Revelation 22:7)  “Behold, I am coming quickly!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” NKJV 
It is not enough to just know.  One must also do.  The Scriptures are stressing obedience and duty.  (Psalm 119:4)  “You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently.” NKJV  (John 8:51)  “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” NKJV  Why?  Time is near.  Fulfillment of many of these prophecies would soon start to take place.  His readers were in the midst of terrible persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian.  Don’t give up; persevere.  You will overcome. 
2.  Revelation 14:13  “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write:  Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’  ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’ ” NKJV  In order to “Die in the Lord,” you must first get into the Lord.  (Galatians 3:26-27)  “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” NKJV  Then live faithfully until death.  (Matthew 10:22)  “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But he who endures to the end will be saved.” NKJV  The Spirit says that blessing is rest from the work of teaching/preaching the gospel and enduring persecutions and sufferings because of their Christianity.  One’s works, deeds, goes with him to judgment.  (II Corinthians 5:9-10)  “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” NKJV 
3.  Revelation 16:15  “Behold, I am coming as a thief.  Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” NKJV  Christ will come suddenly, unexpectedly.  He who watches, be constantly prepared.  (Matthew 24:42-44)  “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” NKJV  (I Thessalonians 5:1-6)  “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’  then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant women.  And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day.  We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” NKJV  One keeps his garments.  The one who takes off his garments runs the risk of not being ready when the time comes.  (Revelation 3:4-5)  “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” NKJV 
4.  Revelation 19:9  “Then he said to me, ‘Write:  Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’  And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’ ” NKJV  The Marriage Supper of the Lamb [Christ] comes last.  (John 1:29, 34)  “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World! 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God’ ” NKJV  Joys and blessings of heaven are described in this Scripture.  (Revelation 21:4)  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ ” NKJV  (Matthew 22)  Those called are those who are faithful all of their lives.  Even to the point of death.  (Revelation 2:10)  “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.  Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” NKJV  Marriage feast is final stage of the wedding. 
5.  Revelation 22:4  “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” NKJV  Do His commandments.  Wash your robes.  By obeying God’s law of pardon, sins are washed away by the power of Jesus’ blood  (Revelation 1:5)  “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.  To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” NKJV  (Revelation 7:14)  “And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’  So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ ” NKJV  His law of pardon for the alien sinner:  (Acts 22:16)  “And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ ” NKJV  His law of pardon for the erring sinner:  (Acts 8:22)  “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” NKJV  Blessings:  Right to the tree of life – eternal life  
  Gates of the city – Heaven  (Revelation 21:22-27)  “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.  Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).  And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.  But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” NKJV
Will you answer the call?  Revelation 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’  And let him who thirsts come.  Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” NKJV  The invitation is open to all who are willing to obey.
Bobby Stafford 
May 15, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Don't Give In  |  church of Christ

Don't Give In  |  church of Christ

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Bobby StaffordDon't Give In        Endurance

Don’t Give In To Temptation
Temptation – Each of us has been tempted before.  It can come in many forms and wear many faces.  But how do we keep from giving in to temptation?  A great example is that of Joseph in the Old Testament.  Read Genesis 39:7-9.  “And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph and she said, ‘Lie with me.’  But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand.  There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife.  How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?’ ” NKJV  Satan found that he could not overcome Joseph with troubles from the world, so he tried to entice him with sensual pleasures.  This story reveals four principles to keep in mind when we are tempted.
I.  Satan Is Responsible for Temptations
·  God is not to blame.  (James 1:13)  “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” NKJV  Satan is to blame.  (I Corinthians 7:5)  “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” NKJV  Also remember how Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.  (Mark 1)  Sometimes he uses evil people.  (II Peter 2:14, 18)  “having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls.  They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.” NKJV
·  Satan is very good at deceiving people.  (II Corinthians 2:11)  “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” NKJV  He is the master at misleading.  That’s what temptation is all about.  Satan promises what he can’t deliver. 
II.  There Is A Difference between Temptation and Sin
·  Jesus and Joseph were both tempted, but neither one sinned.  (Hebrews 4:15)  “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  (I Peter 1:19)  “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  (I Peter 2:22)  “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth;” NKJV
·  Temptation is the road that leads to sin.  (James 1:14-15)  “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” NKJV  It is the perversion or twisting of some legitimate or natural desire.  (I John 2:15-17)  “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” NKJV
·  Being tempted is not a sign of weakness.  (I Corinthians 10:13)  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” NKJV  When temptations come, and they will, there is always a way out, an escape. 
III.  There Is A Reason Why Satan Tempts Us
·  He knows sin will hurt our influence for good.  If Joseph would have given in to Potiphar’s wife, his influence would have been greatly diminished.   
·  Satan knows that sin can ruin your life.  (John 10:10)  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  (I Peter 5:8)  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” NKJV
·  Sin will cost you your soul.  (Romans 6:23)  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NKJV 
IV.  We Can Be Victorious Over Temptation
·  Satan is not all-powerful.  He can be defeated.  (James 4:7)  “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” NKJV
·  Our victory comes through Christ.  He intercedes for us and is always with us.
·  He has provided us with the means to overcome temptation:
o  The Word of God  (Psalm 119:11)  “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”  (Mark 4:4)  “And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside, and the birds of the air came and devoured it.” NKJV
o  Conviction of our conscience  (Psalm 119:104)  “Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.” NKJV
o  Exhortation from our brethren  (Hebrews 3:13)  “but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” NKJV
o  A full suit of armor  (Ephesians 6:10-11)  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” NKJV 
o  The escape route from God  (I Corinthians 10:13)  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” NKJV 
Joseph was able to overcome temptation and so can we.  God has provided the means for us to resist Satan.  We just have to use them.
Sermon Adapted from Mike Kiser 
Bobby Stafford 
April 10, 2016
More on Christian Perseverance

Sermon/Lesson Title
Audio   Video  
  MS Word 
Bobby StaffordDon't Give Up        
David HerseyWhat It Means To Remain Faithful      
Bobby StaffordKeep Your Eyes On God   
Bobby StaffordEndure, Train and Work

Monday, April 18, 2016

From the Heart to the Tongue |  church of Christ

From the Heart to the Tongue |  church of Christ

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David HerseyFrom the Heart to the Tongue       Tongue

The tongue is a marvelous complex instrument with several functions. It used as a sense organ, containing about 9000 taste buds which distinguish between different flavors such as bitter, salty, or sweet things.  It aids in the forming and movement of food as we eat for ease of swallowing.  And it is frequently used to express the temperament of the heart.

Webster dictionary defines the tongue as being a flexible muscular organ in the mouth used in tasting, swallowing, and for speech.  This is the textbook explanation of what the tongue is but for our lesson this morning we are going to be examining what the Bible says about the tongue and just how powerful it can be when it used to express the intent or disposition of someone’s heart. I think we have all experienced what happens when we or someone else loses control of their tongue. As one person said,   “Many things are opened by mistake, but none so frequently as the mouth.”

Lesson Text:  James 3:2-13

James gives us some great details about how powerful the tongue is and how difficult it is to control in:  

James 3:2 "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body."

Here James is pointing out to us, that as Christians we stumble in many areas of our lives because we are not perfect and God knows this but if it were possible that we could control our tongue then James said we could be perfect and that we would be fully capable of controlling our entire body so that we would never stumble. In this we are being taught that the tongue is harder to control than any things else.

James 3:3 "Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires."

When you think about the illustrations that James gives isn’t amazing that something so small like a bit or rudder can control such big objects like a horse or a boat. He uses this illustration to point out the power of the tongue even though it is a small member of the body as we read in:

 James 3:5 "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.  7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.  8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so."

We learn from James the tongue can be used for both good and for evil. When we fail to control of our tongue the words that we speak can be a powerful as a spark in dry forest because it can burn everything down in it path. James tells us it is difficult to control the tongue and we as Christians can learn to control our tongues with diligence and through the help of God and by keeping God’s Word in our heart.  I have seen first hand on several occasions where a person who claims to be a Christian will praise God out one side of their mouth and then foul language and harsh word will come out the other side of their mouth but this should not be the case.

Another thing we need to realize about the tongue is that it will eventually express what is in a person's heart.  You can usually find out how serious a Christian is in the heart by what kind of language comes out of their mouths. 

Jesus points this out to his disciples when he responds to the Pharisees after they accuse him of casting out demons by Beelzebub.

Matthew 12:34 "Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things."

The words that come out of our mouth are reflection of what is in our heart and if our heart is not pure eventually it will be made known by what comes out of our mouth.  That is why it important that we learn to heed what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:5, "...casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (NKJV).
Later on Jesus also rebukes the Pharisees and the scribes for trying to say that unwashed hands defiles a person. He tells them, "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."  Matthew 15:11  (NKJV),

Peter doesn’t understand what Jesus is telling these Jews here so he explains it to him in, 
Matthew 15:16-19, "So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (NKJV).
So the tongue will reflect what is in a person's heart. It is up to us on whether we use our tongue for good or for evil. If we choose to use it for good:

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.

But if we choose to use them for evil,

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD …
We have free will and we must make our choice on how we use our tongue but understand that we will be judged by how we use our tongues as Jesus says in,

 Mt 12:36 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

We need to keep this in mind before we let lose our evil tongue on those around us. We also need to realize that the tongue has the power to bring about life or death.    

Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit."   Those who use their tongues well, will have life.  Those who use their tongues for evil will have death.  

The power of an evil tongue brings death...  

Paul gives the Christians in Galatia a list of things that will keep them from inheriting the kingdom of God.  He writes in
Galatians 5:19-21
"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. "

Of these these things Paul mentioned several are directly attributable to our speech.  Contentions, outbursts of wrath, dissentions, heresies and revelries are all tied to the things which come out of our mouths. 

Lies are a sin of the speech and will keep us out heaven,
Revelation 21:8
"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." NKJV
In Revelation 21:27, John goes on to say again, "But there shall by no means enter it [Heaven] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. "NKJV

And then again in Revelation 22:14-15
"Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." NKJV

Three times in a row John makes the case that there will not be any liars in heaven.  Therefore if anyone has a problem with telling the truth and they want to live in heaven with God, then they need to make a change in behavior. 

How about Gossip?  Paul uses some very strong language about this and other sins of the speech in
Romans 1:28-32
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. "  NKJV

Paul says whisperers and back biters are worthy of death. Gossips whisper behind the backs of others.  They make false accusations against others behind their backs.  Gossips slander others, meaning they speak evil of them.  Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5,
"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, "

Gossiping is a sin of speech which will bring death to those who practice it.  Notice Paul used the word "blasphemers" in this list of people who won't be spending eternity in heaven if they don't repent.  Blasphemy is a sin of speech which will keep us out of heaven.   Blasphemy is a term which means to speak evil of.  It can mean speaking evil against God or others.   This word in the Greek language is also translated as railers which is someone who engages in malicious and abusive speech.  The term for blasphemy is not in any way limited to a sin against God.  When anyone reviles, or speaks in a malicious and abusive manner towards another, they are guilty of blasphemy in the sense that this word portrays. 

Concerning the conduct of Christian, Paul wrote in the same letter to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:24-26
"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."  NKJV

And now come to the most obvious of all.  Filthy speech.  Many today use the term cussing.  What it all boils down to is filthy language coming out of our mouths.  Paul mentioned this in Colossians 3:8-9
"But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth" NKJV 

Paul mentions this with some very harsh words in Ephesians 5:3-5
"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" NKJV

James summed it up completely in James 1:26
"If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless."

James comes right out and says that if a Christian cannot control his speech, his religion is useless or worthless, meaning it's for nothing.  Lying, gossiping, slandering, boasting, quarreling, filthy language, foolish talking and course jesting are all sin of speech and if practiced unrestrained, will keep any Christian out of eternal life in Heaven with God. If we want our religion to be of any use at all, either for ourselves or for others, we must learn to bridle or control our tongues. 

Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit."  Those who cannot or will not control their tongues will eat of the fruit of death. 

So how about the fruit of life? 

Good speech which contribute towards life.

Ephesians 4:29-30
"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."

We must use our speech to help edify and build one another up. 

Colossians 4:6
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Colossians 3:16-17
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

These are examples of speech that not only help to bring life to us, but help one another as well.  We are commanded to use our speech for good.  Good speech portrays a good heart and sincere love and concern for others. 

We use our speech to proclaim Christ to the world.  Paul wrote in Romans 10:8-10, "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

And then Paul well on to write in the next chapter, 
Romans 10:14-15, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!" 


Our speech can be used to glorify God.   In Romans 15:6, Paul wrote, "that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Evil speech brings the fruit of death.   Controlled, gracious, gentle and kind speech brings the fruit of life. 

As we learned earlier, what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is in our hearts.  
All of these things we looked at so far on controlling the tongue has to do with the condition of our heart. So the key to using your tongue for righteousness is making your heart pure which means your thoughts will be pure and words will be pure. Paul stresses the need for us to control our thought in,

2. Cor 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

This should be every Christian’s goal to bring into captivity every thought of man to the obedience of Christ. This is not an easy task because evil thoughts may arise which could cause us to sin. But, if we stay as close to God as possible, and have an active prayer life, even these thoughts can be brought into obedience of Christ. We must train our minds with the Word of God so that eventually good thoughts, not evil, will dominate our hearts. This can only come about by much prayer and much training.  However, it should be the goal of every Christian. Someone once said, "You may not be what you think you are, but you are what you think."  One who thinks filthy thoughts is likely to live that kind of life. The book of Proverbs also teaches this.

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.    

Jesus told us in the great Sermon on the mount that it is possible for us to commit murder or adultery in our hearts (Matt. 5:27-28).  Bringing our thoughts into captivity is a never-ending battle.  However, it can be done and must be done.  Keeping our heart and speech pure is necessary in order to keep ourselves away from the corruption of the world.  It takes constant diligence and effort because we are out in the world on a daily basis and it is so easy to allow ourselves to become influenced by it.  It is easy to become weary of resisting it and let our guards down.  It is so easy to allow the things of the world to creep in and overtake us.  We must never give in to Satan and never give up. 

James wrote in 1:27
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."  (NKJV)

I hope this lesson has made us all think more about how we use our tongues and I hope that if we have not been using it properly that we will start today. I also hope we have leaned how important it is for our hearts to be pure so that our thoughts can be pure and finally I hope we have learned that the our tongue has the power to make the difference between life and death.