Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vetoing God

I marvel at some folk's use of the Bible.  I am amazed at the way some people go about reading, interpreting, and applying the Bible.  Apparently, they get a notion in mind, and then go to the Bible to find the proof of what they already have made up their mind to believe.  Consider a few examples of such.

The Bible teaches that sinners are saved by faith. Any number of passages can be presented showing that such is the case (John 3:16, 18, 36; John 8:24; Acts16:31; Romans 5:1; et al).  But there are other passages that attribute salvation to repentance (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30-31; et al). The passages affirming that salvation is by faith do not veto the passages showing the necessity of repentance.

There are any number of passages that attribute salvation to baptism, often connecting faith and baptism as well as repentance and baptism to salvation, but in some instances mentioning only baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21; et al).  The passages showing that one is saved by faith do not veto those that attribute salvation to baptism, just as those that attribute salvation to God's grace do not veto those that attribute salvation to man's obedience to the gospel (Matthew 7:21; Romans 6:16-18; II Thessalonians 1:6-10; Hebrews 5:8-9; Revelation 22:14; et al).  The preaching of that which is of first importance (I Corinthians 15:1-11) does not veto the necessity of also preaching the God-ordained response to that which is of first importance (Acts 2:37-38).

It is a strange system of hermeneutics (interpretation) that takes only a part of what the Scriptures say about a matter and concludes that such is the totality of Bible teaching on the subject.  One of the several questions that the diligent student of the Scriptures asks is, "What else does the Bible say on this subject?"  When Satan tempted Christ, he quoted scripture by saying "It is written," and proceeded to cite Psalms 91:11-12 (Matthew 4:6).  But Jesus reminded the devil that he had not taken into consideration everything God had said on that subject, and went on to point out what else God had said about the matter (Matthew 4:7).  Therefore, in order to understand what the Bible teaches on any subject, we must take into consideration all that the Bible says on that subject!

A certain preacher was dismayed at the thought that people who had not been baptized/immersed might be lost.  He was equally dismayed to think that all the good, pious people who were aligned with religious parties not sanctioned by the word of God might also be lost.  He announced to his wife that he was going to the woods and staying until he found the "answer" he was looking for.  She asked him, "How do you expect to get an answer."  He said, "I don't have the slightest idea.  Any way God sees fit to reveal it—through the Bible, by sending someone to talk to me, by a word from heaven, or by an inner understanding.  That is up to him."

The man drove some twenty miles from his home to a wooded area and spent the next few hours praying in every position he could think of—walking, kneeling, lying on the ground, crying and pleading with God to "reveal" His will to him.  Getting no immediate answer, he returned to a picnic table at the edge of the woods where he had left his Bible, stood it on its spine, and let it fall open to where it would.  It fell open to Psalms 115, and in verse three he read: "But God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases." Voila!  He had his answer!  For some "reason" this verse vetoed everything the New Testament says about the conditions upon which God forgives the alien of his sins; everything the New Testament says about the singularity of the body of Christ, the church; everything the New Testament says in condemnation of doctrines originating with men; everything the New Testament says about the sin of religious division; everything the New Testament says about how God is to be worshiped; everything the New Testament says about the cessation of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit; everything the New Testament says about the everlasting punishment of the wicked!

I marvel at this man's hermeneutic! "Bizarre" does not begin to describe his approach to discerning the will of the Lord.  But it is a glaring example of how when a person has his mind already made up as to what he wants (and is determined!) to believe, there is no end to which he will not go to vindicate his preconceived notions. 

June speaking schedule:
June 10: Leeville Church of Christ, Lebanon, TN (all services)
June 20: Portland Church of ChristPortlandTN
June 27: Hartsville Pike Church of Christ, Gallatin,TN

Hugh Fulford
May 29, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The President of the United States has come out in favor of homosexual marriage.  Ironically, he made known his position a few days before Mother's Day. His Vice-President and Secretary of Education had already declared themselves on the issue, so perhaps the President felt some pressure to follow suit.  True leaders, however, do not merely reflect the opinions of others; true leaders take a stand for what is right regardless of the cost—politically or otherwise.  If I may say so, our nation is in desperate need of true leaders—from the White House right on down to the local levels of government.

No one should hate homosexuals, and homosexuals should not be discriminated against.  Jesus taught His followers to love all human beings.  He ate and associated with the vilest sinners of His day.  He "did not come to call the righteous (or those who thoughtthey were righteous, hf), but sinners, to repentance" (Matthew 9:13).  And we must all remember that "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10, quoting Psalm 14:3).  But here is the point: Jesus calls us to repentance.  He does not permit us to continue in our sins.  We must turn away from them.  To the woman taken in adultery He commanded, "…go and sin no more" (John 8:11).  There was not and is not the slightest indication that the sinner can continue in his or her sin and still be pleasing to the Lord.

From the beginning, God ordained that marriage was to be between a man and a woman.  "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Jesus endorsed this as being God's plan, and called on the people of His day who had departed from it to return to it. He said: "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh' " (Matthew 19:4-5). Christ recognized the sanctity of God's original plan for marriage, and wherein mankind had departed from it, He called them back to it.  In this sense, Jesus was a restorationist and gave credence to the restoration principle.

The Old Testament reveals God's hot displeasure toward all kinds of sexual perversion—including homosexuality, bestiality, and incest.  Not only are sexual relations between those of the same gender forbidden, but sexual relations between family members and near relatives are likewise forbidden (Leviticus 18).   One is made to wonder what would happen if brothers and sisters began to demand the legal right to marry each other, if fathers and daughters should begin to demand the right to marry each other, if mothers and sons should begin to demand the right to marry each other!  Yet same-sex relations are condemned right along with these other forms of perversion.

Earthly governments ignore God's moral law at their own peril.  In commenting on the moral degradation of the nations of his day, the apostle Paul wrote: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.  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…" (Romans 1:26-28). 

The United States seems to be headed down this same road, joining most of the countries of Europe.  Our President has given his endorsement to such depravity.  Hollywood and the liberal media rejoice and applaud his actions.  Liberal scholars (so-called), professors, theologians, and preachers do so as well. But God still says,   "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). 

Hugh Fulford
May 22, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Last week (May 6-9), I preached in another gospel meeting (some of you will better understand that as a revival) at the Center Hill Church of Christ nearFlorenceAlabama.  This was my thirteenth such effort with this fine congregation of God's saints.  I conducted my first meeting there in 1958, returned the following year, and have been going back every four to five years since then.

My relationship with the Center Hill church now extends to some 58 years.  I began preaching there (two Sundays a month) in 1954 when I was in high school at Mars Hill Bible School in Florence. Beginning the first Sunday of January 1955 (the middle of my senior year of high school), I began preaching every Lord's Day for the church.  This continued through the end of 1955, at which time I was one-third of the way through my freshman year at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson,Tennessee.  My first quarter at Freed-Hardeman, I drove back to Florence each weekend to fill my appointment at Center Hill.

When I began as a "boy preacher" at Center Hill (and for the first three or four meetings I conducted there), the church met in an old white frame building. Sunday worship attendance ran perhaps 50-60 back in those days, though we always had large crowds for the meetings, with many visitors.  Over the years, the church has grown, a "new" auditorium has been constructed (though it is now over forty years old), and it has been periodically updated and maintained in a wonderful way. The old building was bricked, the inside completely re-worked into classrooms, a sound room, and an office. An additional wing of Bible classrooms also was added.  Several years ago, the church built a very nice minister's home on a spacious lot east of the building, and in more recent years a large fellowship building has been constructed between the church building and the minister's home. Ample paved parking surrounds the facilities. Worship attendance at Center Hill now runs around 200 on Sunday mornings.  The Sunday the meeting started (Homecoming Day) we had 329 present.  The meeting was well attended throughout its duration. (The Center Hill church still believes in gospel meetings, and has two more scheduled for this year—one in the summer and one in late fall.)

A nicely maintained cemetery lies behind the church building.  It was a moving experience to walk through it and to read the headstones of members past—people who were of such great encouragement to me as a young preacher.  Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are part of the church today.  As I began my morning sermon, I was touched to see a few hands go up of those who were members at Center Hill when I began preaching there nearly 60 years ago (including one of the elders and his wife and one of the deacons) as well as to see the hands of those I had baptized in the various meetings I have conducted there over the years.

Following a wonderful fellowship meal Sunday at noon and a time of visiting, we had almost an hour of singing before I brought the afternoon message that completed the activities of the day.  I sat and listened and absorbed the words of such great old gospel songs as This World is Not My Home, How Beautiful Heaven Must Be, I'm in the Glory-land Way, Peace in the Valley, Hide Me O Blessed Rock of Ages, We'll Soon Be Done With Troubles and Trials, I Walk With The King, I Believe in the One They Called Jesus, How Great Thou Art, and so many others.  Visitors came from 50 to 60 miles away for the singing.  Young boys—8, 10, 12 years old—led several songs.  Various leaders had their pitch pipes and tuning forks and were expert song leaders, with the men and women singing their various parts exceedingly well (faithful churches of Christ are a cappella where the music in their worship to God is concerned).  As I listened to and absorbed the message of those grand old songs I could not help but reflect on how they had shaped and molded the lives and  the values and the morals of the people who sang them with such feeling.  I am extremely glad that I have been shaped and molded and influenced by those "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19).

How good it was to go back to Center Hill one more time and to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ.  How good to see old friends from high school days, to visit my parents' grave in Florence, to have lunch with my brother, to think about my "roots" and what is really important in life.  Truly, Lord, You have been mindful of me!

Hugh Fulford
May 15, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Bible On One Page

It is one thing to "curse the darkness" of Bible ignorance, as we did in our last "News & Views"; it is another thing to "light a candle" that hopefully will help people to better understand the Bible, as we seek to do in today's "News & Views."

An overview of the Bible can be summarized on a single page of paper.  Fifteen historical periods make up the Bible.  With a knowledge of these fifteen periods, one can turn to any book of the Bible and have a general idea of what it is about. These fifteen periods are listed below, with the Bible books and chapters in blue that provide the continuing story line of the Bible and the books and chapters in orange that cover corollary and supplementary matters occurring during that period.  The earnest student of the Bible should reduce these fifteen periods of Bible history to a single page of paper and attach it to the inside cover of his or her Bible as a quick reference to the Bible's contents.

1. Creation and Early Civilization (Genesis 1-5).

2. Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6-11).

3. Lives of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph)   (Genesis 12 -15).  (The Book of Job likely belongs to this period).

4. Israelites in Egypt and the Wilderness (Exodus – Deuteronomy).

5. Israelites Enter the Land of Canaan (Joshua).

6. Israelites Ruled by Judges (Judges; I Samuel 1-8;Ruth).

7. Israelites Constitute One United Kingdom under Saul, David, and   Solomon (I Samuel 9 – II Samuel 24; I Kings 1-11; I Chronicles  1 – II Chronicles 9). (The Books of Psalms [for the most part], Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon belong to this period).  

8. Israelites Divide into Two Kingdoms:Israel/Northern Kingdom (10 Tribes, with Capital at Samaria); Judah/Southern Kingdom (2 Tribes, with Capital at Jerusalem) (I Kings 12 – II Kings 25; II Chronicles 10-36).  (Elijah and Elisha were two of the major oral prophets during this period. The following books of the literary prophets [in the likely order of each prophet's ministry] belong to this period: Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Lamentations).

9. Israelites into Captivity: (Israel into Assyrian Captivity in 722 B.C.; Judah into Babylonian Captivity in 606 B. C.) (Ezekiel; Daniel deal withJudah's captivity and promised return to Canaan).

10. Judah Returns from Babylon to Canaan (Ezra; Nehemiah; Esther).  (The following books of the literary prophets belong to this period: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).  (Note: Chronologically,   the Old Testament ends with the book of Nehemiah; every book coming after it can be taken back and placed  somewhere in the framework of events covered from Genesis  through Nehemiah, as we have attempted to do above).   
11. The 430 Years Between the Old and New Testaments.

12. The Earthly Life and Ministry of Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).

13. Beginning and Growth of the Church (Acts)

14. Christianity Applied: Individually and Congregationally (Romans – Jude).

15. The Ultimate Victory of the Church (Revelation).

May Speaking Schedule:
May 6-9: Center Hill Church of Christ, Florence,AL
May 20: Nashville Road Church of Christ, Gallatin,TN (all services)
May 23: Nashville Road Church of Christ, Gallatin,TN
May 27: Portland Church of Christ, PortlandTN(all services)

Hugh Fulford
May 1, 2012