By Their Fruit You Will Know Them

Flooded Town
One of the great lessons taught by Jesus Christ is that you evaluate the lives of people by their fruit. The fruit they produce tells much more than the claims they make. In Matthew 7:15-20 and 12:33, Jesus says the fruit reveals the credibility and truthfulness of the “tree” from which it comes. Atheism can be rejected simply because it does not even make a real attempt at fruitfulness. If your guiding principle is “survival of the fittest,” then it is logical that you would not harm yourself by helping someone else.

We can apply this principle to religious groups, including denominational and non-Christian groups. The service of Christianity throughout the world in its broadest sense has been exemplary. Barbara Lewis writing in the Gospel Herald for May 2017, (page 12) gave some encouraging numbers of work done in 2016. Actions speak louder than words, and here are some great actions by congregations and groups associated with the Church of Christ.

Healing Hands International, is a group associated with the Church of Christ. They shipped 23 containers of relief supplies and drilling equipment to seventeen countries. They also sent a million dollars worth of vitamins to fifteen mission points.

Congregations of the Church in 20 states gave and used $13,233,902 to help and rescue people devastated by storms, floods, tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

“Dorcas: Sewing for Jesus” made 20,000 items used in medical clinics.

Over 876 water wells were drilled, 75 water wells were restored, and 1,638 water filters were distributed.

Over four-thousand people were trained in agricultural methods to feed themselves and their families in eleven countries.

All of this is just one organization associated with the Church of Christ. Our hats are off to those working to relieve suffering and poverty. We see their heart by their fruit. Their work is what Jesus talked about in Matthew 25:31-46.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

“Demons and Reality” Brings Reactions

Demons and Reality

We nearly always get some mail about any article we have in our quarterly journal. In the second quarter of 2017, we published an article titled “Demons and Reality.” In it, we discussed the question of what demon possession is about, and whether it happens in today’s world. We gave seven reasons why demon possession does not happen today, based on the Bible and the evidence. You can read the article online.

One of the points we made was that Jesus was tempted in every way we are. (See Hebrews 4:15.) We said, “No one has ever suggested that Jesus was demon possessed.” We received an objection to that statement because in Matthew 12:24 the Pharisees claimed that Jesus was casting out demons “by Beelzebub.” Beelzebub is a Hebrew word that means “lord of the flies.” Beelzebub was a heathen deity to which the Jews ascribed supremacy among evil spirits. First, the accusation was false. Then, notice that the statement is not that Jesus was possessed and had to have an exorcism to cast a demon out of him. What the Pharisees accused Jesus of was using the power of the heathen deity to do demon exorcisms. That is a far cry from having a demon overtake a person and, against their will, cause them to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise.

We heard from some others who claimed to have witnessed everything from voodoo to ghost habitations to spirit murders. In our world, violence is equated with entertainment and technology can place us in unreal environments. Almost anything can be invented and carried out by the human mind. People can produce illusions that are convincing. Don’t buy into these claims and scams. Rely on God and His Word. We would repeat the conclusion of the “Demons and Reality” article:

“God is a rational God, and He wants us to come to Him out of love and with feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving. We are to be new creatures, not just creatures purged of a perceived problem by a human not authorized by God to do so. The Bible tells us, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation’ and ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ God allows you to choose ‘this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”’ (Acts 2:36-41; Philippians 2:12; and Joshua 24:15.)
–John N. Clayton © 2017

The Weight of Christian Testimony

Christian Testimony

Christian testimony is very powerful. After I finished speaking in a recent lectureship, an atheist vociferously attacked Christianity. He said that in the twenty-first century Christianity is useless. He said it doesn’t help anyone, it creates conflict, and it wastes resources.

Before I could respond, a woman said to him, “Before my husband came to Christ he was a drunk, an abuser, and a terrible father. Since becoming a Christian, he has been a kind, loving father and husband because of his new relationship with Christ.” Before he could respond, a man standing behind him said, “I was an alcoholic for 26 years, and since becoming a Christian I have found the strength to free myself from this horrible drug.” Then a young woman said, “I grew up in an abusive home and abused my own children until I became a Christian and learned there was a better way.”

Then the man’s wife held him by the arms and looked into his face and said, “Why do you think I have stayed married to you through the affairs and the times you left me lonely and crying? I have told you that God wanted us to make this marriage work, and if it wasn’t for Christ, I wouldn’t still be here. I want to build our family according to the pattern the Bible gives us.” The man looked at me and said, “I have answers for what you said in your scientific lecture tonight, but I don’t have an answer for all of this.” He waved his arm at the people standing around him and walked away from me with his arm around his wife.

In 1 Chronicles 16:8-9 we read: “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works.”

In Mark 5:1-20 we see the amazing story of a man who was mentally deranged until Jesus cured him. The man wanted to go with Jesus and leave the place where he was known for being a lunatic. Jesus told him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” The man not only told his friends and family about what Christ had done for him, but he went to ten cities in the area and did the same. The next time Jesus came to that area, there was a crowd waiting to hear him because of the testimony of the cured man.

It is easy to find people who claim to be Christians who do nothing to change the world around them. There are also many who do make a difference by their Christian testimony. Even in our modern times, testimonies carry more weight for most people than any scientific evidence I can offer.
–John N. Clayton © 2017