Category Archives: Eastern Shore church of Christ

The Thief on the Cross

Many have asked how it is possible that the thief on the cross was saved apart from baptism. Some use the thief as proof that baptism is unnecessary in salvation. Their thinking is in error as the thief proves nothing concerning baptism.

The story of the thief is found in some form in all four gospel accounts (Matthew 27:38, 44; Mark 15:2, 28, 32; Luke 23:39-43; John 19:18), however only Luke provides us the details of his encounter with Jesus. Stated briefly, the thief recognizes his impending doom, knows his guilt and asks Jesus to remember him when he (Jesus) comes into his kingdom. Jesus says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  It seems obvious that Jesus granted salvation to this man while both were impaled on crosses. It would be foolish to argue otherwise. So then, if baptism is essential to salvation, how is it possible that this man could be saved?

Christian baptism, that is, baptism for the remission of sins, would not be given for another 50 days. Jesus was crucified at Passover and the command of baptism was not given until the church began on the following Pentecost (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Thus the thief lived and died before baptism was commanded.

Jesus was still living and could do anything he wished. His last will and testament was not yet in effect because he was still living. Hebrews asserts the superiority of Christ over all that came before. He is greater than the angels, greater than Moses and his priesthood is greater than that of the Levites. The writer makes clear that while the tabernacle was established and cleansed by the blood of goats and calves, the new tabernacle, the spiritual tabernacle is established by Jesus’ “own blood” (Hebrews 9:12).

The writer of Hebrews argues that a new tabernacle or priesthood requires a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15-28). Now notice carefully, this new covenant could not come into effect until the one giving it (Christ) had died. “For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive” (Hebrews 9:16, 17). Therefore, since baptism that saves (1 Peter 3:21) is part of the new covenant established by Jesus, the thief could not be subject to it while Jesus lived!

If I possess something of great value then I may do with it as I will while I am alive. Only at my death does my will dictate to whom and when that thing of value will go. The great thing of value possessed by Jesus was eternal life. It was his to give freely. Now, by his choice, his will is in force and governs that great gift.

We do not know that the thief was unbaptized. Although Christian baptism had not yet been given, at least three years earlier John the Baptist had begun his ministry in the wilderness where he baptized for repentance. We know that people in Jerusalem knew of his work as many, including the religious leaders, were going out to be baptized by him. He had many followers including some we meet as late as Acts 19:1-7. It is possible the thief had been baptized by John. The text simply does not say and we cannot speculate.

If we wish to have discussions about baptism and its role in salvation, let us do so. But let us accept, in advance, that the thief on the cross is not a valid example of salvation for one in the Christian age.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

On Being Thankful

A good Christian is nothing if not thankful. Our example and savior, Jesus, demonstrated his thankfulness to God through his often prayers (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21; John 11:41). The psalmist wrote:

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.” (Psalm 30:4)

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4)

To see the goodness of the Lord evokes a need to praise him and thank him for his goodness. One needn’t look far to find things to be thankful for. A ship’s captain, standing on the bridge of his vessel as the sun began to peek over the distant horizon, was taken aback by the stunning colors sweeping across the sky. “Every morning it’s new; it’s always brand new” he exclaimed. As David said, “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).

Over 20 years ago, upon returning from Russia, I was stunned at the beauty of my own community. The harsh Russian winter had turned everything into shades of white and gray. But when I returned home in early May I saw the beautiful colors of spring which had been hidden in Russia. What a joy to be home.

Last week as I stood on the plains of Sand Creek, Guyana I rose early and watched the sun rise over the mountains to the east. It was a beautiful sight. The simplicity and solitude of life there was a welcomed change. I was so thankful to be there and to be serving both our Lord and the people of the region. Yet, when time came to return home I was even more thankful for the sights of the USA, the safety of our trip and the faces of my family waiting for me at the airport.

But those are big things. A man would have to be hard indeed not to feel thankful in those situations. It seems that we should also be thankful for the less visible blessings. We must learn to see the hidden goodness that marks our everyday lives. Some suggestions follow.

Let us be thankful for the salvation we have in Jesus. There is no greater blessing than the liberty and freedom found in Jesus. There is also no greater reason to be thankful.

Let us be thankful for our health. Everyone has health problems – everyone. And while our problems are important to us we should remember that there is always another who suffers far worse than we.

Let us be thankful for our families. A family is a gift from God. They are often the ones who challenge us the most. But what a joy to have them!

Let us be thankful for good friends. There is a friend who is closer than a brother says Solomon (Proverbs 18:24). Having someone who always speaks truth and is devoted to your needs is a great blessing.

There are dozens more hidden blessings for which we should be thankful. Seek them out and pour your thankfulness into prayer. Give God the glory for every gift!


 Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.


Including Others

Evangelism is spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. It is introducing people to Jesus and telling them of his salvation. Evangelism is also reaching out to the struggling who are in Christ but slipping away. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus commanded that we make disciples, teach and baptize and teach them again. Work remains after baptism to fully include the new Christian in the body of Christ. To be clear, that new Christian is every bit the elect as the one baptized years before, but it still remains for the local congregation to insure their inclusion into the work of the church.

Original Christianity took to heart the need for a new community of believers in which all were equal. Acts 2:42-47 demonstrates the inclusionary work of the Christians.

Devoted to One Another

The first Christians are devoted to spiritual things. This is the first item listed for without the foundation of faith, no community exists. These believers put their spiritual efforts first and sought to learn and to practice their faith together.

All Were Together

These brethren are family. Like any family, they are together with one another. Churches today try to encourage this sense of belonging through fellowships and get-togethers. However togetherness does not need to always be a planned event. Just as a family today may come together for a reunion or some special birthday, families also assemble piecemeal sometimes. It is not necessary that the full group always come together.

Sharing With All

This may be the most challenging part of the original Christian example. The Bible tells us these people “had all things in common,” and “they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45). The ideal here lacks any suggestion of materialism or covetousness on the part of any. Brothers and sisters in the family did what was necessary in order to care for one another. Both spiritual and physical needs were addressed. It would seem that this was done without any organized effort but through the response of each new Christian.

The result of this kind of work is obvious. The church enjoyed favor with all people (vs. 47). Be assured that when similar efforts occur today, there are similar results. Dying congregations today will be resuscitated              when they return to these simple steps of caring and providing for all.

Cliques kill communities. Notice that the original pattern seen here appears to be free of segregated social circles or cliques. Later, cliques would appear in the congregation at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). These brethren had reached the point of quarreling among themselves. They circled around noted figures in the church and excluded others. This division was wrong. The same is true today.

We must learn from the successes of the apostle led churches of the First Century. Let us do our utmost to include all brethren.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.


Christian Fasting

The Bible speaks of fasting but in the present day many people seem a bit confused about it. After the topic arose in a Bible class I decided to do some in-depth research. You can read my paper over on the main church website for the Eastern Shore Church of Christ. I hope you find Christian Fasting to be a helpful study.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.


Memorial Day

This weekend Americans celebrate a special national holiday, Memorial Day. Although the name has changed from the original Decoration Day, Memorial Day celebrates and remembers all the servicemen and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the many wars our country has fought. Monday will see a variety of ceremonies marking the day. Flags will fly at half-staff until noon to honor the fallen. We owe a great debt to our military people who have fought across the globe to secure our freedom and our way of life

Christians celebrate Memorial Day weekly, although not for the same reason. We call it the Lord’s Supper or Communion (1 Corinthians 11:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16) and in it we remember a greater sacrifice made for all men everywhere.

This ancient feast finds its origin in the Jewish Passover meal first eaten just prior to the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:1 ff). On that night, the deliverer passed over the obedient homes of the Hebrews  and did not bring judgment upon them. All other homes faced the death of the first born as a judgment from God. The Hebrews commemorated that feast annually until the first century. Today, some Jews continue to celebrate the Passover.

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper. Using the elements of the Passover meal, Jesus crafted a new meal which we celebrate today. Its purpose was to cause his followers to remember and memorialize his death. Two items present on the Passover table were used as a sort of object lesson to aid our memories. Unleavened bread was used by Jesus to remind us of his body which was so horrible beaten. The cup, filled with the fruit of the vine or grape juice, symbolized his blood which was shed for many ( Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-34).

When the synoptic writers recorded the event they offered little explanation except to say that the emblems of bread and the cup represented the body and blood of Jesus. But the inspired apostle, born out of season, Paul, expands our understanding of the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. He reminds us that we take Communion “in remembrance of “ Jesus and thereby “proclaim” his death (1 Corinthians 11:25).

Herein is the great memorial: A remembrance of Jesus and his death! Communion is the great Memorial Day. Jesus, who left heaven, lived among men, was mocked, mistreated, tortured and killed for people who had rebelled against him, paid the real ultimate sacrifice.

Paul warns that the solemn nature of the Lord’s Supper can be destroyed by hearts that are not in tune with the intent and purpose of the Lord’s Supper.

 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

We also know that this memorial feast was not an annual, semi-annual or quarterly event. In Acts 20:7 Paul mentions the assembly on the first day of the week. He notes that their meeting on the first day was “to break bread,” a term used to describe the Lord’s Supper. That the Christians met every first day is clear from Paul’s statements about contributions into the church treasury. He instructed that such collections be made upon “the first day of every week” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NASB). If  the church assembled for the purpose of eating the memorial meal and if that meeting was on every first day of the week, we see both a command and an example of every week Lord’s Supper participation.

Our service people deserve our thanks and our heartfelt appreciation, especially those who died in service to our country. But Jesus deserves it even more. Today, as we gather around the Lord’s table, let us remember his sacrifice so that we might live.

First 2010 Sermon

Is there a better way to start the New Year than by assembling with God’s people on the first Lord’s Day of the Year?

This Sunday morning we will consider how to Begin With Jesus. Using John’s account of Jesus calling his first disciples (John 1:35-51) we will see some important characteristics for every Christian to possess. We may not have all those characteristics yet, but we can work toward them.

Sunday night we will do the reverse. We will End With Jesus. Have you wondered what will happen at death? When you breathe your last, what will happen to you? We will try and answer some of those questions by studying Luke’s account of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke 16:19-31.

We meet at 9 for Bible study (come early for coffee) and we worship at 10 AM and again at 6 PM. You are always welcomed at the Eastern Shore church of Christ in Daphne, Alabama

The Challenge of Commitment

Any accomplishment requires commitment. There is no substitute for dedication and determination in pursuit of a goal. The star athlete spends hours and hours improving his physical body and sharpening his responses. A successful professional engineer has spent years of study and labor building her knowledge and refining her skills in pursuit of a career. The sage Christian is the product of years and years of study, prayer, worship and service. All of these people have one characteristics in common: they are committed.

I think of Noah who spent over a century doing exactly what God told him to do. His commitment proved worthwhile as the oddly shaped Ark began to float above the destroying waters of the flood (Genesis 6-9).

I think of Abraham who was so dedicated to God that he was willing to offer his own son as a sacrifice until his hand was stayed by God’s directive (Genesis 22). His commitment was rewarded in untold blessings given him by God. Even today he is honored by all of the world’s monotheistic faiths.

I think of the determination of Nehemiah who was determined to rebuild the walls of his beloved Jerusalem. In the face of near constant opposition he worked with one hand on his sword while he directed the reconstruction. His commitment was rewarded when he watched the people gather for the reading of the law in the restored city in front of one of the rebuilt gates (Nehemiah 8:1).

And what of Jesus? His commitment to his sole purpose was unwavering. Faced with looming torture and death and with the power of escape in his hands, Jesus would not depart from his commitment to serve his Father (John 12:27). It was his purpose to come and die and he would not shirk that duty.

In our life our future is not always so clear. We wonder what lies ahead. “What can I do?” we ask. “I’m not that important. I don’t know that much.” Therein lies the problem. When we fail to take responsibility and are unwilling to commit, we will not become successful. God’s great people were guided by and blessed by God but only when they were obedient to him. None of the them, except Jesus, knew the full outcome of their work. But their dedication remained in spite of their lack of knowledge. It was Queen Esther who was staggered by the danger of her duty to her people. But her uncle Mordecai uttered those powerful words” “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

We do not know precisely what God has planned for us. We have no clear knowledge of what the future holds. But our small view of ourselves is not the same view that God holds. He sees a far grander picture of our future. Only by renewing our commitment to him daily can we expect the great things that he has in store for us.

Step forward now and renew that dedication, restore your determination and restate your commitment to the cause of Christ. God needs great laborers in the field and he is calling you.

The late Dr. Dowell Flatt once added a note to a course syllabus for a difficult course. I’ve forgotten the exact wording but it said something like this: God has plenty of grass in his kingdom. What he really needs now are some really tall oak trees. I think his saying rings true today. We need great men and woman to serve the Lord.

Will you stand for Christ today? Will you offer your life to God and let him use you in unimaginable ways? He needs, he calls. Will you answer?

Are You Ready for Sunday?

Prepare now for the Lord’s day tomorrow and commit to being present in our Bible studies and in our worship services. This is a time when all believers can assemble together and praise the Lord through the fruit of the hearts and lips. Your presence will help make the service better and you will encourage others by being present.

Sunday morning our message is entitled Heart Attack! from Mark 7:14-23. We view the heart as the seat of our emotions but it can also be the seat of much trouble and stress. We can keep our hearts in good working order. On Sunday night we continue our discussions about the nature of the church. Our title is, “Who Owns the Church?” It may seem an easy answer but in practice it can sometimes be a struggle. Come and hear the word from Acts 20:28.