Articles published from July 1999 to Dec. 1999

Below is a summary of articles written by Elder Neil Phelan for the Malvern newspaper. They are numbered according to publication order. To see the complete article simply click the title. You can also jump to other newspaper article collections using the menu on the left or search for words in the Google search engine. Soon we will complete a topics page, to help you find articles that way. 

#45 The Power of the Tongue


“ A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”-Prov. 18:20-21

Every word that proceeds forth from the mouth is a seed sown in the world in which we live.  Our harvest will be according to that in which we sow.  It may be poisonous or wholesome, for the Lord of the harvest will carefully watch over every seed and see to it that we “reap what we sow.”  Evil words tend to “death” while wholesome words tend to “life”.  It is from our own mouths that we will discover either the best of blessings or the worst of evils.   It is all wrapped up in “The power of the tongue.”

The tongue is the most powerful instrument in the world.  By the tongue a war may be declared; a relationship may be destroyed; a death may be commanded; and the whole course of a persons life may be altered.  In our experience, we…



“Unto me, who am less than theleast of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”Ephesians 3:8

Paul counted it a great honor and privilege to preach “The unsearchable riches of Christ.”  This was the focus and theme of His whole ministry, “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  He did not preach up man; man’s wisdom; man’s philosophy; he preached Christ.  He did not preach unattached doctrines.  They all had their sum and substance in Christ.  Today, we have before us a subject much larger than a preacher.  It is an unsearchable one: the “riches of Christ.”  We will approach our great subject in four headings: (1) What unsearchable means to us; (2) What true riches are; (3) The honor of searching; and (4) A view of His riches.

The word “unsearchable” is an ENCOURAGING word.  It does not mean that the riches of Christ can not be discovered or that they are unknowable.  It is a word that should…



“What think ye of Christ?”-Matthew 22:42

With just one short question we discover the fountainhead of all theology.  Surely, this is the greatest question that has ever been put before the minds of men.  And from our answer we will discover much about ourselves: “What think ye of Christ?”  Today, we will explore this great question of Christ under three headings: (1) Thinking; (2) How our thinking affects us; (3) The greatest question.

Jesus is not only interested in our actions, He is also interested in our thoughts.  In the book of Matthew alone, Jesus addresses the subject of thinking 16 times with words such as, "Think not” and “what think ye.” It was by His questions that Jesus challenged the erroneous thinking of His day, thinking that robbed Him of His glory and His people of His comforts.  

Thinking molds the character.  As one man said, “thinking is a chisel that molds our character, day by day, one chip at a time.”  Robert Speer said, “Every day we are…



“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”-Acts 2:42

To begin something is one thing, but to be faithful to continue in it is another matter.  While Baptism and a confession of our faith in Jesus Christ is a great act of faith, we know that this is just the beginning.  We would not discourage those whose hearts have been stirred to follow Christ.  But those who have enlisted in His army know from experience that the most difficult challenges lie beyond the waters of baptism. As we read the gospels we will be quick to notice the crowds of people when Jesus performed His mighty miracles.  But when the comfort level diminished, so did the crowds.  In the beginning of the Acts we find only 120 souls who continued with Him “in His persecutions”. But the choicest blessings He reserved for those who “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and…



26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Acts 17:26-28

Our text is taken from Paul’s sermon on Mar’s hill to the idolaters at Athens.  Not only were they idolaters, they were also deists.  A deist is one who believes that God is up in the heaven somewhere, doing something, but has nothing to do with the earth or its inhabitants.  He watches all events from a distance.  But Paul declared God to be everywhere present and nowhere absent.  By His majestic power and wisdom He created the whole universe.  But by His tender mercies He lovingly watches over the objects…



“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we Should be holy and without blame before him in love”-Ephesians 1:4

According to the Bible, a lot went on before this world was spoken into existence.  Before man; before creation; before God manifested himself to man; God was involved in His mighty plan of redemption. According to Paul, God marked out a people to dwell with Him in glory “before the foundation of the world.”  They were known and loved long before their faces marked the sands of time.  And were it not for God’s former preparation, where would the Saints be today?  Adam failed; Noah’s generation failed; Israel crucified the Lord; and we too, have come short of the rigid demands of the law.  The Saints should rejoice to know that God loved them and chose them, “Before the foundation of the world.”

Certainly, if the Saints were chosen before the foundation of the world, Christ knew who He came for.  Isaiah…

#51 Together In Unity


"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!'@-Psalms 133:1

This beautiful thought comes from David's pen as one of the "Songs of  Degrees." These short psalms have been of special interest to the Lord's people throughout the ages. Some have referred to them as the "Gradual Psalms". There have been many ideas advanced as to their special title. According to some, there were fifteen steps by which the priests ascended into the temple and on each step they sang one of these fifteen psalms. Others have suggested that these psalms were sang by the masses as they approached the temple to worship and the title refers to the change in the pitch of the song as the congregation neared the temple.

How  fitting a reminder and how beautiful would be the sound, as the great congregation journeyed toward the temple and lifted up their voices together and sang, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"



”Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”- Philippians 2:12-13.

  From prison, Paul writes this affectionate epistle to his beloved brethren at Philippi.  He refers to them as “my joy and my crown” and from the gloom of the prison cell he states, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”  Even during his absence, his love for these brethren had not diminished and his concern for their welfare had not ceased.  But at this juncture in his life he was unable to visit them personally and see to their needs and he admonishes them, even though he was physically absent, to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

But who is the apostle writing to?  Is he writing to people who have no knowledge of Christ?  Is he writing to people who know nothing…



“…..Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”-Luke 10:42

Today, our thoughts are centered around a special visit our Lord made to the home of some of His friends.  It was the home of  Mary and Martha. These were the two sisters of Lazarus, that same Lazarus that Jesus called forth from the tomb.  It was Mary that washed His feet with her tears, wiped them with the hairs of her head and anointed His body with ointment.  From His short visit we may learn a lot about Jesus, as well as ourselves, and discover what Mary found to be “that good part.”


Today, we will find Jesus in many of the same places that we found Him during His earthly ministry.  One of those is in the hearts and homes of people that love Him.  Though He is Lord of heaven and earth, he owned no property.  He lived with His friends.  He did not beg, nor do we find Him burdensome to others.  But to those who cherished His companionship He made His…



“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”-Romans 8:28

I love the things that work together for our good.  The sinner may draw great comfort from them because they are unlike the shifting things of this world, things that are prone to change and decay.  The things that Paul here enumerates are security and serenity to the sinner.  They strengthen our faith and our hope.  They nail down our future.  These things are Holy things; unchangeable things;  things that God has ordained for our “good”.  

We must not take our “things” out of context.  The phrase “all things” must be considered in the context in which it is given.  Paul tells us precisely what these “things” are and to whom these blessings belong.  His eye soars far higher than the mundane affairs of this life.  Let us soar with the apostle for just a moment!    


The things that we shall consider are reserved for a…



“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for he joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”-Hebrews 12:1,2

Here we find the apostle seeking to encourage his Hebrew brethren with a nostalgic review of their faithful ancestors.  This “great cloud of witnesses” hovered around their hearts and their cots as a constant reminder of faith’s triumphs by men and women just like themselves.  If God was with them, surely He will be with His faithful in every age.    

Paul compares the life of faith to the footrace of the Olympic games of his day, “the race that is set before us.”  Indeed, the race is there.  We must run it.  But how shall we run?   

First we must lay…

#56 The Poor are Happy


“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”-Matthew 5:3

Jesus begins His great sermon on the mount with eight pronouncements of blessings.  These describe and identify His followers in every age.  They are many times referred to as the “Beatitudes”.  He begins each of His “Beatitudes” with the word “Blessed” which means “fortunate or happy”.   Surely, the followers of Christ have always been the happiest people.

In each of His “Beatitudes” we find a pattern: (1) The pronouncement of a present blessing; (2) Each blessing will present its own special paradox; (3) The paradox explained; (4) Each successive “Beatitude” describes a greater level of maturity.  Consider with me “The Happiest People”.


Jesus has declared that the “poor in spirit” to be happy.  Can such a thing be?  How can poor people be happy?  Though we know that money can not buy happiness, this kind of poor has nothing to do with money or wealth, but rather a need.  It…



“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted”-Matthew 5:4

The second of our “Beatitudes” will take us a step further in our relationship with Christ.  In our initial experience our eyes were opened as our loving Father faithfully exposed our self-righteousness and sin. We found ourselves poor sinners in need of Christ’s riches.  But our loving Father does not leave us in such a condition…we must grow.  Here we find a second pronouncement of blessedness upon the heads of His people.  And again, we find the same pattern:  The pronouncement of the present blessing; A paradox presented; The paradox explained the with the promised blessing in mind.


We must grow in grace, and to do so we must mourn.  But the mourning that Jesus speaks of has a special category in our experience.  He does not speak of that mourning we experience when we lose a loved one or suffer a personal loss.  The mourning Jesus speaks of is the byproduct of our being made…



“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”-Matthew 5:5

The third of our “Beatitudes” is very suggestive.  Here, our Lord is teaching His disciples the change that should be observed in a true disciple.  He first made them poor, by showing them their sin which was followed by a mourning over them.  Some may never grow beyond the first “Beatitude”, choosing rather to justify sin with friends and the world.  But if the response is honest, mourning will be observed.  From this mourning a beautiful change begins to take place: they become “meek”.                                                  


Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly in heart”.  Therefore, if one is made meek by the divine operation of God’s spirit, a great blessing must be involved because this person is becoming more like His Lord.  But what does meekness imply?  What change may be observed in such a person as they grow in grace and “are changed into the same image from glory to…



Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”-Mat 5:6

In the first three Beatitudes we are called upon to witness the heart exercises of those who have been awakened by the Spirit of God.  First, there is a sense of need, a realization of sin and emptiness.  Second, there is a judging of self, a consciousness of guilt and sorrow over sin. Third, a change begins to take place as the soul becomes teachable.  And here, in the fourth, there is a longing, an intense hunger and thirst, for something that can not be found in self; in friends; nor in all  the world.  The eye of the soul is turned away from self to Another who has fulfilled all righteousness: Jesus Christ. 


While the pangs of hunger and thirst for nature’s nutrients are symptoms of a healthy body, a spiritual hunger and thirst for righteousness are like symptoms of a healthy soul.  To know more about Him; to live closer to Him; to be



“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy”-Matthew 5:7

While the first four “Beatitudes” describe the initial exercises of the heart in one who has been awakened by the Spirit, the next four describe the subsequent fruit.  That is grace.  It begins on the inside, as God changes the heart in regeneration, and then an outward change is observed.  An apple tree must undergo many changes before fruit becomes visible.   While the fruit tree is young, it is changing; growing; maturing.  But when it becomes mature, fruit is born.  Such is the case of those happy people that Jesus here describes as He traces the spiritual features of His own people, among which mercifulness is a prominent one.  These are identifying marks of true Christians, “For the tree is known by His fruit”.


The word “merciful” means “compassionate”.  It is one of the great attributes of Christ.  It was most prominently displayed at the cross as His enemies crucified the Son…



“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”-Matthew 5:8

In our last Beatitude, we discovered a level of maturity that not all of God’s people will enjoy: we learned to be “merciful”.  While many experience the initial exercises of the heart, not all will bear the visible fruits of such a change.  As Christ preached this sermon, He was speaking to men that would become Apostles and occupy positions of grave responsibility in the Church.  They must be mature and reflect, not only the graces of the first two few Beatitudes, but the outward fruits of the latter ones.  Their ministry must not be bound by Satan and revenge.  In this fifth Beatitude, Jesus ascends to a higher level of maturity.  A level that may only be approached after one has learned to be “merciful”.  They become “Pure in heart.”


To be “pure in heart” does not mean that one is “pure” through and through.  It does not mean that one has achieved perfection for “If we say…



“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

In His seventh Beatitude, Jesus approaches a level of Christian maturity that not every disciple will achieve.  Here we are called upon to place the cause of Christ first in our lives.  “What I want” and “How I feel” must be replaced by “What is best for the cause.”  Here we become willing to die to self for the cause of Christ and the prosperity of His kingdom.  Such is the attitude of this Beatitude.  This is the first Beatitude that calls for an active, prayerful participation on our part as we endeavor to become “peacemakers”.


There is a great blessing to be received when we become “peacemakers”.  Why else would Jesus encourage us to become so?  When we become “peacemakers” we are sending forth blessings that will return to our own bosom.  Since we reap what we sow, why not reap the bountiful harvest of peace?  As Solomon said, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou…



“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”-Matthew 5:10

In His final Beatitude, Jesus describes the highest level of Christian maturity: when one is willing to be “persecuted for righteousness sake”.  As a General would prepare his soldiers for battle, Jesus forewarns His disciples what to expect as they followed Him.  When the miracles were performed and the multitudes were fed, there were many who followed.  But when the abstract turned into the concrete principles that Jesus stood for, “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”-John 6:66.  But those who had been made poor; who saw their bankrupt condition; who were hungry; who displayed the fruits of meekness and peace; they were willing to be “persecuted for righteousness sake”. 

This maxim must be true for disciples in every age.  Today, we do not see the physical persecution in this country that the disciples endured.  Though it…

#64 The Mathematics of Grace


“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” –Matthew 18:21-22

These words of Jesus reflect something that seems to be drifting from our vocabulary, a kind of math that is not new, but ancient as the Godhead, treasured up in the person of Christ: it is the mathematics of grace.

Grace reveals God’s way of keeping score which goes against the grain of our natural reasoning.  Grace disengages a catch 22 situation that occurs between people who love one another.  It is a math that Satan hates because it reconciles irreconcilable differences; accepts the prodigal home; frees the woman taken in adultery; calls a murderer to become an apostle; places Rahab in the royal family; and forgives a repentant fornicator in the Corinthian church.  Jesus is saying, “Peter, you forgive, I’ll keep the books.”

If you…



“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive andremain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words”—1 Thes. 4:16-18

As the new millenium approaches, the minds and hearts of many have turned to the second advent of Christ.  Books are published, videos are made, seminars are held and sermons are prepared to warn and instruct people of this great event that every Christian knows must come to pass.  But we must remember, in the midst of all of the instruction that we may encounter, God’s word must be the foundation of all that we believe.  What does the Bible have to say concerning that great moment “WHEN JESUS RETURNS”.    


When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica concerning the second…



“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”-Isaiah 9:6

It is the time of the year that many hearts have been opened to confer a gift or two upon the objects of their love.  But let us pause for a moment to consider the greatest gift that has ever graced the halls of time.  This gift was given to, and for, the objects of God’s love.  It was the most expensive gift that has ever been given; it had a purpose that has never been equalled; and to those who possess this gift, its value grows more and more each passing day.  The gift was God’s Son.  

The same that is the mighty God is a child born, the ancient of days becomes an infant of a span long; the everlasting Father is a Son Given.  As Mary held the babe in her arms she looked directly into the face of God; her redeemer; the great I Am; one that would…

#67 Wise Inquirers


“Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him”-Matthew 2:2

The incarnation of the Son of God was one of the greatest events in the history of the universe.  One might have thought that God making His personal appearance in the form of flesh would have made a grand entrance. But there was nothing at His birth to attract the attention of the Scribes and Pharisees.  Nor would the Caesars find an interest in His lowly birth.  As Isaiah had prophesied, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him”-Isaiah 53:2.  The birth of the Christ Child was revealed to shepherds of  Bethlehem and certain wise men of the east.  From a few wise inquirers, we may learn some very practical lessons. First, let us notice their inquiry.  Secondly, let us notice their encouragement.  And finally, let us learn from their motives.


It is always encouraging to find…

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