About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

He Cannot Sin

(Article for publication week of 5-27-2009 AD)

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remained in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9).

The scriptures tell us that there are certain and vital evidences of the New Birth. Faith, repentance, conversion and the practice of righteousness we have considered in previous articles. Now we come to another vital and indispensable evidence of regeneration- no habitual sinning.

First of all, we need to understand that our text is not saying that Christians are above sin. Some have erroneously interpreted this text to mean that Christians can reach sinless perfection in this life. But if we compare other texts we will see the error of this interpretation. In I John 1:8 we read, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The person who says that they have arrived at sinless perfection is simply not facing the truth of this text. They are simply self-deceived. Notice also in I Corinthians 10:31, “whatsoever ye do, whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” Anything that we have done that was not solely for God’s glory was sin. Also when we read the model prayer in Matthew 6, we learn to pray, “forgive us our sins”. Christians must continually be confessing sin and begging the Lord for forgiveness. This is the reason our Lord teaches us to pray this way. Also I would set before you Hebrews 12:8, ‘if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.” Christians are oft exercised by the chastening hand of God because they are not yet perfected and their heavenly Father corrects them to make them more in His own likeness. The fact that we are chastened shows that we are still imperfect. Further, I would have you consider the way the Lord sums up the moral law in Matthew 22:37-40. There he says the law is summarized under two heads- love God with all our being and love our neighbour as ourselves. Now if we will be honest we must admit that we have not done that. We have come short of the righteousness God requires (Romans 3:23). Also in Isaiah 64:4 we read, “all our righteousness areas filthy rags.” The best you and I have done is filthy before God. So you see those who say they no longer sin are not being honest with all the scriptures say about sin.

So what does our text mean when it says, “he that is born of God doth not commit sin.” Well, first of all it means that the Christian is no longer under the power of sin (Romans 6:14). There was a time when we under the power of sin. But when the Lord saved us, he delivered us from that awful power. We were under the power of darkness, but God transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13). The Christian is still plagued by indwelling sin (Romans 7:17). He still has to mortify sin with the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13), but sin is not his master any more. He now belongs to a better Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, it means that the Christian has made it his goal to not sin. He is not committed to sin any more. He has made it his goal to live above sin. I John 2:1 says, my little children, these things I write unto you that ye sin not. That is a command the Christian takes seriously. If you are not trying to live above sin, it is doubtful to me whether you are saved. Somebody told Brother Rolfe Barnard once, “Brother Barnard, I can’t live above sin.” His pointed reply was, “ how would you know? You never have tried”!

Thirdly, it means the Christian does not sin as the habit and general course of his life. There was a time when he lived without any regard of what God thought of his actions. But now that he is born again, the Christian considers every action in light of God’s word. Christians often stumble and fall into sin, but they do not stay in it. A just man may fall seven times, but he shall rise again, by God’s grace.

Now my dear friends, I ask you, “are you born again?” Are you still committed to sin? Or, are you committed to holiness? May the Holy Spirit give you the answer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

When Ye Fast

(Article for publication week of 5-20-2009 AD)

“Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:16).

In Matthew 6:1-18 our Lord teaches us that the practice of righteousness involves three major activities: giving, praying and fasting. As with giving and praying, our Lord does not say “if “ you fast but ‘when “ you fast. So we see that fasting is to be a regular part of the Christian life.

Our Lord taught us fasting by His Own example (Matthew 4:2). The early church practiced fasting (Acts 13:2). Our Lord taught us that urgent prayers should be accompanied by fasting (Matthew 17:21). The Apostle Paul said he was often in fasting (II Corinthians 11:27).

Fasting helps us learn several important things. First of all, we learn from fasting that our eternal souls are more important than our temporal needs. Our Lord quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to the devil when he tempted Him after His forty day fast: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.” It is not that we don’t need bread, but that the word of God is more important. Job said in job 23:12, “ I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Natural food is necessary, but not as necessary as the word of God. Our outer man is vanishing away, but our never dying souls are headed into eternity. Fasting helps impress this on out minds.

Another important lesson we learn from fasting is the grace of self-control. Self-control (temperance) is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). By giving up a lawful need, we learn to exercise self-control. Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken, and without walls.” Foregoing a meal, or meals helps us learn this important virtue. Controlling our appetites cultivates temperance in other areas, like the use of our tongues. Now that is an area where we all need help!

James 1:26 says, “if any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” A tongue that is out of control is a sign of a graceless life. The unbridled tongue has disrupted churches, torn apart families, alienated former friends and worked a “world of iniquity.” How our hearts still break over some cruel or indiscreet remark we made that wounded the feelings of others. All of us need to learn to control our tongues more (especially yours truly), and fasting is a great help to us in learning this virtue.

There are many things that are lawful in themselves, but could cause another person to sin. In such things we must be careful not to give unnecessary offence. (By offence, I mean that which could cause another to stumble, not everything that immature people make into an issue.) Our daily food is certainly lawful. An abundance of food and pleasing foods are a blessing from the Lord and should in no way be despised. But a temporary disuse of our lawful food teaches us that there are more important things. May the Lord help us to learn the lesson of self-control.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

When Ye Pray

(Article for publication week of 5-13-2009 AD)

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:5).

Those of you who are our regular readers will remember that we have been for over three years writing on the New Birth with John 3:1-8 as our starting place. In that passage, our Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus of the necessity, mystery and evidence of the new birth. For the last several months we have been showing the vital evidences of the new birth. For the past several weeks we have been showing that the practice of righteousness is one of those vital evidences (I John 2:29; 3:7). In Matthew 6:1-18, we learn the practice of righteousness may be considered under three general heads- giving, praying and fasting. We come now to consider the practice of prayer.

Note well that our Lord says, “when ye pray” not “if.” There is a sense in which prayer comes automatically to the believer. Prayer is to the soul, what breathing is to the body. No one has to tell you to breathe, you just do it. And so no one has to tell you to pray if you are a Christian. Prayerlessness is a sign of spiritual death. And true prayer is a sign of spiritual life.

Although prayer comes automatically to us when the Holy Spirit imparts new life into us, we do have to be taught to pray intelligently. We know not how to pray as we ought. This is the reason our Lord in His grace and mercy gives us a model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and also in Luke 11:2-4. What we call the “Lord’s prayer” is in reality the “model prayer’ or the “disciples prayer”, for it is an outline to guide us in our prayer life that we may not pray amiss. Keeping to the analogy between prayer and breath, a living person does not have to be taught to breath, but we may be taught to breathe better, or be given breathing treatments when we are ill. And so those who have spiritual life may be taught to pray as they ought.

Now there is a vast difference in praying and “saying a prayer”. Many people “say ‘ their prayers, but they never really pray. Such persons are not Christians and are still in the “gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity”. In Acts 9:11, we read for the first time of Saul of Tarsus, “behold he prayeth”. No doubt he had always “said his prayers”, but after the Lord struck him down on the road to Damascus, he began to pray for the first time in his life. And his first prayer was “Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?” Hypocrites and heathens may “say a prayer’, but only a regenerate person can truly pray.

Our Lord is not forbidding public prayer in our text. We know our Lord often prayed in the presence of others (Matthew 11:25-27). Paul the apostle prayed in the presence of others (Acts 27:35). We are taught in I Timothy 2:8 that men are to pray “everywhere.” Public prayer is a vital part of the corporate worship of the church (Acts 2:42). So our Lord does not forbid public prayers here nor anywhere else in the scripture. But what our Lord does forbid is the hypocrisy of praying simply to be seen of others. When we pray we are to remember that our Heavenly Father sees in secret, but rewards openly, and that He knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8).

May the Lord bless each of you with sweet communion with Himself in your prayer life.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

When Ye Do Your Alms

(Article for publication week of 5-6-2009 AD)

“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2).

In Matthew 6:1-18, our Lord Jesus Christ summarizes the practice of righteousness under three general heads: doing alms, praying and fasting. These are things that hypocrites may also practice, but that does not deter the Christian. After all, our Lord says “when” ye do these things, not “if”.

A Christian will be a generous person. After all, a believer has received salvation, the greatest gift ever bestowed by the free and unmerited grace of God. Saving grace begets a gracious disposition. The person who is stingy and tight-fisted is showing that he is not acquainted with the mercy and grace of God. The Christian has freely received so he loves to freely give.

Our Lord taught us giving by His Own example. In Acts 20:35 it says the Lord taught us it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” God gave the unspeakable gift of His own Son for our salvation. Christ gave Himself for His Church. Surely we will never suppose we have ever given much in comparison to our Lord.

The Christian spirit of giving must always be voluntary. “The Lord loves a cheerful giver “ (I Corinthians 9:7). Giving that is coerced either by law or threat is not of the spirit of Christ. Giving begrudgingly is not of the spirit of Christ. Giving to be noticed by others is not of the spirit of Christ. Christians do not have to be coerced either by law, threat or any other way to give, for they feel that they have received so much from the Lord they love to share with others. God’s people just delight in giving.

Christian giving is directed in three general ways. First, we are to give to support the ministers of Christ and the advancement of the gospel and the work of the church (I Corinthians 9:1-14). No true minister of Christ views the work of the ministry as a “job” nor would he quit preaching for lack of support. The true ministers of Christ feel that necessity is laid upon them and “woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:16), yet the Lord’s people will love their ministers and their faithful care of their souls.

Secondly, we are to give for the relief of the poor saints among us. James 1:27 tells us that pure and undefiled religion is to visit the widows and the fatherless in their affliction. The church is not to throw their poor away to be cared for by the state and its ungodly “welfare” system. We are to care for our own. On the other hand, no able bodied man should be always going to the church for help, for if any will not work, neither should he eat. (II Thessalonians 3:10).

Thirdly, we are to give for the relief of the poor the Lord may send providentially our way, even if they are not Christians. The scriptures teach us we are to even feed our enemies (Romans 12:20). Now this is a good place to make a point. “If thine enemy hunger, feed him”. The care of the poor is to give them necessities, not luxuries. There are in reality only two necessities: food to keep from starving, and clothes to hide our nakedness (I Timothy 6:8). The scriptures do not require us to “share the wealth” or to try to make everybody equal financially or to provide the “poor’” with luxuries or to give welfare “with dignity” or anything like that. We are to provide for the helpless their necessities, and do it cheerfully. With such cheerful giving the Lord is well pleased.