A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!




Personal Trespasses

Sometimes one person will get their feelings hurt by the comments or actions of another person in the church.  Often that person will harbor bad feelings or unforgiveness toward the offending party.  This should never be.  The Lord told us in Matthew 18:15-17 how to deal with personal trespasses from fellow church members. 

Before we consider this passage however, we should ask ourselves, did the other person really trespass against me?  Sometimes the problem lies with myself.  Did I take offense of the other person because I was wearing my feelings on my sleeve?  Or did I take offense because I was tired and irritable and misunderstood what the other person meant.  Probably most of the time the offending party never intended or knew that he/she was offending by their comment/action to another member of the church.

Once I have determined that I believe I really have reason to be offended, then according to the commandment of our Lord and Saviour I am to go and tell the offending church member his/her fault between myself and him/her alone.  That means that I am not to tell any one else about it, until I have followed thru with the steps outlined in Matt. 18:15-17.  Too often much havoc is wrought in the church because church members rebel against this commandment of the Lord.  When I go to the offending church member I should go humbly and not piously accusing the offending member, but simply laying out what was said and why it hurt my feelings.  Probably, the vast majority of the time that will be enough to bring about the desired result and restored fellowship. 

However, if the offending party doesn’t hear me, then I am to take one or two more church members so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  Now when I go to these “one or two more” I am not to lay out my case to them so as to poison their mind toward the offending member, but simply tell them that I and the offending member have a problem that we need their help with. Once in the presence of the offending member then I can state my case and also the other party can state their case.  Then the other members present can give their advice to the two members.   Usually this will be enough to resolve the few times it ever reaches this stage. 

Very rarely, after the first two steps have been taken, then the problem will have to be taken to the church and addressed by the church.

Dear brothers and sisters, this means of solving personal offenses isn’t just a “it sure would be nice if you did things this way,” but it is essential that we follow the commandment of our Lord in this matter.  Sometimes members of the church will just stop going to church because their feelings were hurt by some comment or action of a fellow church member.  To do so is a reproach to the wisdom of our Lord and rebellion against HIS word.   One of the most poisonous things that we can do to ourselves is to harbor hard feelings toward our fellow church members.  This can eat at us and take away our peace for years, if unchecked.

Failure to follow the above commandment of our Lord in dealing with personal trespasses of our fellow church members has been one of the most hurtful things to the cause of Christ in a local church.  Let us deal truthfully and faithfully with the commandments of our Lord and Saviour and manifest our love toward our fellow church members by taking good heed to Matt. 18:15-17.

Elder Vernon Johnson

 Principles of Giving

The bible gives us several principles for giving.  Giving is more than just putting money on a table or in a box at the close of church services.  There are many ways that a person can give.  Once the Lord sent forth his disciples and told them, “Freely ye have received, freely give.”  They were to give of that which they had freely received.  Now they had received spiritual gifts that the Lord had given them and they had received instructions in the kingdom of God and they had been taught of the Lord many things.  Now these were things that they had freely received and they were told to freely give of those things.  This same principle applies to every child of God.  We have all received spiritual gifts as the “Spirit divideth to every man severally as He will.”  Furthermore, God has given us his word and has given us understanding.  Also, as we have sought him he has given us wisdom.  We should be prepared to freely give that which we have freely received.  Also for many of us God has given us good health and the ability to labor.  For others, God has given an ability to earn wealth.  What ever God has given us we should be prepared to use it to his name’s honor and glory and for the good of his people.

Giving shouldn’t just be a sporadic episode in our lives as we happen to see need and feel charitable to give.  The scripture teaches us, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give.”  Giving should be done on purpose.  We should purpose to give.  Giving shouldn’t be the last priority on our list, but rather should be one of the first things to do.  Too often people give after they have taken care of all their needs and wants and if any is left over then they give.  This is wrong.  We should purpose to give then plan on living off the rest.

Furthermore, we shouldn’t begrudge what we give, or feel that we have to give as a necessity.  The scripture teaches that “God loves a cheerful giver.”  It is a privilege of the highest honor to be able to give.  The Lord said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Often kings and those in authority receive gifts of men as a way of giving honor to those in position of authority or who have great responsibility.  In contrast, the Lord said we are more blessed than those, because it is more blessed to give than to receive!

Giving is compared in the scripture to sowing.  We are told, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”  The sower of seed looks to the end of the harvest to see the return of his efforts.  So likewise, when we sow bountifully of those things which the Lord has blessed us then we find that we shall also have a bountiful return of spiritual blessings in the kingdom of God here on earth.

Giving is a religious activity, but not as many think it is.  According to James, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Not to give when we see a need and are able to give is an indication of a hard heart.  “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

To freely give of ourselves is a manifestation of our love for the Lord and for his people.  “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  In the early church we read where they “had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted to all men, as every man had need.”  The scriptures say that “great grace was upon them.” 

Let us all consider the blessing of giving cheerfully such as the Lord has prospered us.

Elder Vernon Johnson

Primitive Baptist