The fact that we all shall be judged by the Scriptures also demonstrates that God expects us to understand, believe and obey them. Jesus said, “He that rejected Me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48)
Some of the reasons for men not to understand the Bible alike are wrong attitudes, prejudice, jealousy, envy and willful ignorance. There are a lot of people who understand perfectly well what the Bible teaches about a subject but who refuse to believe what the word says. In this case the Bible has no authority over them and causes religious division. Many people understand the Bible but divisions come because men lack enough faith in God to follow what He has revealed to us in the Bible.
When men decide to go beyond what is written, to reach conclusions which can not be justified on the basis of the teaching of God’s word, and to teach things outside the revelation of God’s will, religious division occurs. One can only know the truth through knowing God’s revelation which is the Bible.
Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) He also said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)
One must abide in the truth to be a disciple of Christ. Many religions take the position that men cannot understand the Bible. This is a false theory of man because God has revealed that man can understand the Bible. The true Church of Christ will teach the truth and will give you the Bible book chapter and verse for everything we teach. Worshiping God is acts of reverence paid to God by man and should not be engaged in lightly. The true Christians will follow the ways of the Lord and abide in His teachings (2 John 9).
Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith does not come by a small still voice out of the blue. No one has the right (authority) to teach anything except that which Christ and His Apostles taught. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence of all them that are about Him (Psalms 89:7)
Those who do not abide in the teaching of Christ will find themselves rejected by God and be lost forever. Your present situation is not hopeless if you will put Christ first in your life and obey the Gospel. People are bound in sin and need to be made free and the truth will do that (John 8:32). When one is condemned to, hell, that fatal sentence shall never be reversed and they will soon know what the word Hopeless really means.
Eph 2:8-9 KJVR, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (9) “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The word and words translated as faith in the New Testament appear some 244 times. Faith is a very serious subject, and I don’t believe that the religious world gives credence to what God has to say about what faith really is. So I would like to do a little deeper study on what faith is and hopefully we can gain further insight on what God wants us to know.
Faith, according to the Hebrew writer, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The entire 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews deals with great men and women of old that exhibited faith and how faith made them do the works of God. Verse 6 tells us without faith that it is impossible to please God. I want us to particularly notice the action that is suggested here. We must believe that God is, and a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Can we understand this? Belief is said to be something we do. Does this not fall into what some would say would be a works category? When those that came to Capernaum seeking Jesus in Jn. 6:28 “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” What did Jesus say to them? Did he say that there are not any works at all to do? No, He made the declaration that faith was a work of God, and that they must do this. We can understand that there is a difference in works; the works of God, being works that we must do, and the works of the Law of Moses, and also the works that man might invent to try to get to God. The last 2 being the works that God will not accept.
It is by Gods mercy that we are saved. Rom 5:8 KJVR, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we deserve the severest of punishments because of our transgressions, God loved us so much that he gave his only begotten son upon the cross for our sins.
This mercy that God has bestowed upon us is open for all, but all will not receive it. This mercy is bestowed upon those that through faith will accept it. God has bestowed, man must accept. But this faith is not a shallow, I believe faith only. This faith is one that goes past I believe, to I will do what my God commands of me. This is the faith that we see the Apostle Paul have when Ananias the preacher asked “Why do you wait, Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16), that he did not tarry but obeyed. This is the faith that those on the day of Pentecost had that when they were fully convinced of their sins and that Jesus was the Christ, that they cried out “Men and Brethren, what shall we do”? When the preacher Peter told them “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins.” They did not say “That’s not what my family did to be Gods child, or I know that he said that but I don’t really think that is what God meant.” No, they obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered to them, (Acts 2:41). When I obey what God has commanded of me, I am not doing works to glory and say that I have saved myself. Baptism is said to be a work of man that is merely to show the world that you are already a Christian. I declare unto you that Jesus Christ said it is a work of God commanded to put one into the body of Christ, to be a Christian, Mar 16:16 KJVR, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” What did Jesus correlate here? Belief and baptism. If our belief prompts us to obedience then we can be saved, but not until we have that faith.
While we sometimes question the accuracy of polls and surveys, they can often point out important points of interest. For example, recent surveys have shown a disturbing lack of knowledge about the Bible in the general public. Did you know that fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the apostles. 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. 82 percent of Americans believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse. 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. While any serious Bible student would know the truth about all these issues and perhaps even think these results to be comical, those who fail to see any problem in the state of Bible understanding in our day and time have a serious problem indeed.
God’s people have always been destroyed by lack of knowledge, Hos 4:1,6. Where there is lack of God’s Word, the people faint, Amo 8:11-13. In ignorance they make the wrong choices.
When they stumble, they do not know where to turn. Without a knowledge of God’s Word, a person has no real direction or guidance in life, Psa 119:105.
Churches suffer for lack of teachers; teachers are few for lack of knowledge, Heb 5:12. Our standards of morality are skewed, where good is evil and evil is good, Isa 5:20. We slaughter the innocent (abortion), sparing the guilty. We reward the wicked (movie stars, entertainers), depriving the good (teachers, etc.). Divorce is made easy, adultery looked upon lightly, fornication “an affair, a relationship”, homosexuality an alternative lifestyle. Evil (pornography, promiscuity) is allowed to spread in the name of “freedom”, ripping families apart. Children are deprived the kind of parenting that is their God-given right. The effect of such things destroy our families and communities and weaken our nation.
Bible ignorance is not inevitable. It is curable through individual Bible reading, frequent in depth Bible study with others, parents accepting their God given responsibility to teach their children, and preachers who fulfill their duty to preach the word.
Don’t let the mistakes of others cost you a home in heaven. The choice is yours.
Many people think or believe that there are many bodies (Churches), but the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:4-5).
When did God change His mind so that He no longer condemns religious division? And if He hasn’t done so, why are there so many different denominations in the world today? The simple answer to this question is, “That the majority of the people want to serve God in their own way instead of the way God has instructed.”
Many people want to believe that each person can have their own religious beliefs and be right in the sight of God. The reason for this is so they can serve God the way they want to instead of the way God wants them to. The Bible clearly states that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26).
Many people will say that there is nothing in a name, but the Bible says, “Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him (Christ), and given Him a name which is above every name.” (Phil. 2:9)
Jesus Christ said, “I will build My Church” (Matt. 16-18). Many people today are called Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Mormons, Presbyterians, Adventist, and many other names that are not authorized by the word of God. Why is it so hard for people to understand such simple scriptures as this, “Now I plead (beg) with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing and that there by no division among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor. 1:10)
How hard is it to understand what this verse is saying? God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). Denominations are without God’s authority, without heaven’s blessing, weak in attitude, rebellious, prejudiced, and in destiny doomed. Christ is the head of the body, the Church (Col. 1:18). The family name comes from the head of the family, not the children in it. Can you find the name of the Church where you worship in the Bible? We can hear people say, “Oh how I love Jesus, yet these same people are ashamed, offended, and too proud to wear His name (Christ) and just simply be called Christian. These same people are willing to ware a name not authorized or found in the Bible. We can read in Romans 16:16, “The Churches of Christ salute you.” The Bible does not say, “The churches of denominations salute you.” God only accepts us when we build upon Christ’s foundation, not some man or group.
In Matt. 16:18, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” Is the Church that you are a member mentioned in the New Testament and can you find the name of it? Did you become a member of the Church as people did in the New Testament (Book of Acts). Do not base your hopes on the ideas and practices conceived in the mind of some man or religious group. Can you honestly say, “I know and love the truth.” In order for one to truly know God, one must understand what the will of the Lord is.
The question for consideration is, “Why the true Church of Christ does not wash feet in the worship service?” There is no Bible authority for washing feet in Church worship. There is not one record of foot washing being done in the early Church as worship. Let us examine some of the scriptures that are relied upon to prove that we are not to wash feet in Church worship.
There has arose a contention among the disciples to who should be the greatest in the kingdom and Jesus taught them a lesson of humility by giving them an example. He was their Lord and Master and He washed their feet to show them, or teach them, if they would be great, that they must humble themselves and become servants of all (Luke 22:24-27, Luke 9:46, Mark 9:34, John 13:13-16).
Peter said unto the Lord, “Thou shalt never wash my feet,” Why, he simply meant that if you refuse to allow Me to wash your feet, you will have no part with Me in this great lesson of humility that I am teaching. The context of the lesson of foot washing in John chapter 13 teaches that Peter was about to hinder a great lesson of humility that Christ was teaching His disciples.
Christ told him, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” Peter then said, “Lord not my feet only, but also my hands, and my head.” It is well to note that the foot washing took place before the Church was established, and there is not one record of foot washing in the Church. Christ hadn’t died at the time He washed the disciples feet; it took place before the will became of force; the new will did not become into effect until after Christ’s death (Heb. 9:16-17).
This event (foot washing) took place under the Old Law. The Old Law was not taken out of the way or abolished until Christ died (Col. 2:14; Eph. 2:15). Those who wash feet in the Church today don’t know whether they are doing it the right way or not. If people would read and study the Bible with an open mind and a honest heart, they could see the errors of their ways. You will not find anyone that can give you a good reason for washing feet in worship service. They surely don’t wash them to clean them, because no one goes around with dirty feet when they have foot washing. What purpose do they wash them? According to the history of washing feet, it was a custom to wash their feet upon entering a house, to clean them. We have one example of washing feet after the Church was established, and it shows that it was an act to take place in the home, and not in the worship in the Church (1 Tim. 5:9-10).
We are commanded not to go beyond the teaching of the Lord. Feet washers should go home and wash their feet, instead of washing them in the Church worship. Jesus was simply teaching the disciples a lesson of humility by washing their feet. In 1 Cor. 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Many people go around saying how they love Jesus but refuse to obey Him and keep His commandments (Matt. 7:21-23).
The true Christians will follow the ways of the Lord and abide in His teachings. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). The fact that we all shall be judged by the Scriptures also demonstrates that God expects us to understand, believe and obey them. “The Judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9).
The great news prophesied by Joel in 2:32 and preached by the apostles on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:21, is both wonderful and disturbing. Wonderful because it promises salvation to the lost; disturbing because those who read this passage do not agree on what God is telling us that we need to be doing to receive the salvation which is promised.
Since people understand and teach the meaning of this phrase differently, the question needs to be asked, what message were the New Testament writers trying to communicate?
The Bible, Old and New Testaments use the phrase “call upon” 26 times, each time the object called is deity. “Calling upon” is used only once in Acts 7:59. “Calling on” again only once is used in Acts 22:16.
From these passages we can draw some important points. First, from Psalms 145:18 The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. We see here that to “call upon him in truth” brings us nigh to God while any attempt to call upon him not in truth offers no such promise. Without the element of truth no amount of calling on the Lord will assure us of anything. This same sentiment is clearly stated in John 9:31 “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” Therefore to successfully call upon the name of the Lord requires that we be a worshipper of the Lord and God requires two things of proper worship to him stated in John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” Therefore, to call upon the Lord requires us to worship him in spirit and in truth.
From these passages we can conclude that the phrases “call upon,” “calling on,” or “calling upon” are generic terms meaning proper worship to God and do not indicate the details of that worship. Of course to a true worshipper of God, one who is obedient to his commandments, this phrase can and often does simply mean prayer or the act of praying. Keep in mind, however, that the prayer of a sinner accomplishes nothing towards salvation as Acts 2 clearly points out. When sinners on that day asked “men and brethren what shall we do” were they told to pray, certainly not. Their answer was “repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” In addition to repentance and baptism, Rom 10:14 adds hearing and believing to proper calling on the Lord and according to Acts 8:37 confession that we believe Jesus is the Son of God is a requirement before baptism.
In summation, calling upon the name of the Lord means to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent of our sins, make the good confession of our faith and to submit to water baptism. Having done this we have called upon the name of the Lord, read Acts 22:16. Don’t call upon the Lord in vain. Be a true worshipper of the Lord and receive salvation by obeying the gospel and becoming a Christian.
The man called Jesus also known as the “Christ” is perhaps the most well known of all historical and Bible characters. While many of us feel like we know Jesus there is much about him revealed in scripture that we may not be aware of. Jesus is truly a unique individual. If everyone really understood Jesus and his proper place in our lives, I am certain he would gain acceptance of countless new followers of his teachings.
The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus in the letter to the Colosians. In chapter 1 verses 13-20 he points out who Jesus really is and the importance he holds to mankind. It is an awesome list of accomplishments and leaves each of us forever in debt to Jesus for all he has done, is doing now and will do in the future for those who are willing to listen carefully and do all that Jesus has taught.
Paul points out ten things about Jesus that we all need to be aware of. Together they give Jesus a most special rank in both heaven and earth for there is none comparable to him. He is “The Preeminent Jesus”.
First, verse 13, Jesus is King over his kingdom which is the church and therefore has a right to reign and to rule. To have a kingdom requires four things, a king, a law, subjects and a territory. Jesus, our king, rules over the minds and hearts of men through the law of the New Testament.
Second, verse 14, he is the savior from our sins. All have sinned and been separated from God. Jesus saves us from our sins through the shedding of his blood on the cross.
Third, verse 15, he is the image of the invisible God. No man has seen God but Jesus has declared him (John 1:18).
Fourth, verses 15-16, he is the firstborn over all creation. This means Jesus has all power and authority over creation, the only exception being the Father.
Fifth, verse 16, he is the creator of all things. All things were created by Jesus and for Jesus.
Sixth, verse 17, he is the sustainer of all things. This means Jesus is the operator and maintainer of the universe. We need not be worried about the future of this earth because Jesus watches over it.
Seventh, verse 18, he is the head of the body, the church. Jesus continually leads and directs the church through the written word. Those who will not follow his word are not part of his body because they answer to someone else.
Eighth, verse 18, he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. Jesus was the first to die and be resurrected never to die again and he is the highest ranking of this group which will follow him to heaven.
Ninth, verse 19, he is the fullness of all things. In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9) and in him we have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). We are complete in him (Col 2:10).
Finally, verse 20, he is the reconciler of all things to God. Jesus reconciles us unto himself by his blood. How this applied to things in heaven is unclear but obviously stated in verse 20. Jesus is such a superlative individual in every way that it is truly hard to imagine anyone would want to do anything less than love and obey him for all eternity.
Does God’s word need to be defended? To answer this question we only have to go to the short book of Jude. Jude 3 says “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Christians today are God’s representatives here on earth. Unless we speak for God, who will? There are those who will be deceived by worldly wisdom unless we speak up for the truth.
What is it exactly that Jude is telling us to earnestly contend for? It is the faith which was once delivered to the saints. It is that which is written, the truth.
Why are we to contend? Because the world is full of sin and there are many who are in error teaching false doctrine. There are those who are deceived and the truth must be represented so the world will have a choice. Contending for the faith keeps Christians grounded in the truth. We must contend because God asks us to. People are easily led away from the truth and Satan must not be allowed to have his way unopposed.
Who is it with whom we are to contend? It is the world, false teachers, religious leaders, or anyone who would handle in a liberal way the word of God, adding to it or taking away from it.
What is it that we hope to accomplish? It is to let God speak. So that there can be a distinction between truth and error. Error must be condemned and the weak encouraged. Contending strengthens the church and identifies those opposed to God’s will. It saves souls.
How are we to contend. Earnestly and sincerely, with love, with faith and courage, knowing that the truth will ultimately win out over error. We must contend prayerfully, honestly, in the spirit of Christ, teaching the truth by example.
Who are to contend? Those who know the truth, who are obeying God. Every Christian who loves the truth and has the conviction to see it prevail over error.
It is not wrong to stand for what you believe if it is in harmony with God’s will. We are to oppose Satan and he will flee from us. We know that the truth will overcome in the end. Which side do you want to be on? To fail to contend is to fail to obey God.
The Bible reveals that life is short and points out that death might occur at any moment. We don’t know when we are going to die.
In Luke, Chapter 12:16-21 is recorded that story of a man who thought he had many years in which to get richer and live a life of ease. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? So he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”
But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
This rich farmer made great plans, but he didn’t include God in those plans. There is nothing wrong with planning for the future, but there is something wrong when we plan the future and do not include God in those plans. We talk about what we are going to do tomorrow, and yet tomorrow is something of which we cannot be certain.
The most tragic thing about all of this is that most of the world will not be prepared for either death or the Lord’s return. So many of us are so busily engaged in the game of acquiring this world’s goods that we do not serve the Lord as we should. We lay up treasure here on earth but neglect laying up treasure where it really counts, in heaven.
Solomon said, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)
In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life; and there be few who find it.
These verses indicate that the majority will be lost; therefore, the majority will be unprepared for death or for the Lord’s coming.
Are you ready to go to heaven or are you so attached to this world you would not be suitable for heaven?
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because thou has rejected knowledge, I will reject thee.” (Hosea 4:6)
It is going to be a sad day for those who have been deceived into believing a false hope for the salvation of their souls. The Bible was given to us for a way of escape and we can choose to accept or reject it. By studying the Bible and rightly dividing it, anyone can know the truth that will set you free. (2 Tim. 2:15)
It would be amazing to know how many people actually open up their bible and study it properly. Death is not the end of things, but can be the beginning.
It is written, “And as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9: 27)
The most important thing about dying is to be ready for it. This can be accomplished by being a Christian while you live upon the earth. Are you making great plans like the rich farmer did in Luke, Chapter 12 and leaving God out of those plans? The most important thing in life is, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)We save ourselves simply by doing the things the Lord has required that we do.
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is a jewel among God’s revelation of divine wisdom. Written by Solomon, considered the wisest man who ever lived, it gives us a unique and realistic look at the human condition from a practical, down to earth perspective.
Solomon begins by asking the question in Chapter 1 verse 3 “What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? Said another way, Solomon is asking, does all our labor as human beings really fundamentally change the nature of life for the better? After all, human life is a cycle of certain unchanging events, one generation comes another goes, the sun rises and sets, the wind blows this way then that, rivers run, clouds form, rain falls and on and on… No matter how hard we work, this does not change, we are never satisfied with filling our senses, the past slips away from us, those who follow will not long remember us. What purpose and value is it all?
Solomon states in verse 13 “I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven.” Solomon was not only the wisest of all men but perhaps also the richest. I can think of no man more qualified to judge the value and purpose of life than this man which may be why God chose him for this task. In Chapter 2 Solomon tests himself with pleasure, he built great works: houses, vineyards, gardens, orchards he accumulated servants and possessions great and small, he denied himself no joy (2:10).
Solomon considered wisdom and madness and folly and realized that the same thing eventually happens to all men. That there is a time and a purpose to everything under heaven. He considers the rich and the poor, the righteous and the sinful. He proclaims that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Bread is not to the wise nor yet riches to those of understanding. Favor is not to men of skill but time and chance happen to them all.
Solomon closes his thoughts with these admonitions: remember thy creator in the days of thy youth before our eyes lose their vision, our hands begin to shake, before our bones cause us to bow down and our teeth become few and the sound of grinding is low. There will come a time, for most of us, when our usefulness on earth will deminish. We will not be able to earn a living or provide for ourselves or others. Then these bodies we now inhabit will return to the dust from which it came and our spirit shall return to God who gave it.
Solomon’s conclusion after considering every aspect of human life is vanity, all is vanity. Life is like grasping for the wind, we end up with nothing. The only thing we take with us when we leave this world is our standing before God, therefore he concludes with these words. Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. (12:13)
In 1 Pet 3:15, all christians are commanded to be ready to make a “defense” for the reason of their hope in Christ. The word “defense” is from apologia (Greek), which means “a speech in defense of what one has done, or of truth which one believes.” The formal use of this word is used by Paul in Act 22:1; 1 Cor 9:3. Peter, however, uses the word in the context of an informal inquiry by a friend or neighbor, for example someone asking “Why are you a christian?” To such Peter says that we should be ready to give reasons why we believe.
Notice that the christian faith is an intelligent, rational faith. It appeals to the mind as well as to the heart. God expects us to use our minds – Matt 22:36-38; John 8:32. We do not have to stop using our minds in order to have christian faith! This is important, for as one person said, “My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects!” A “weak faith” may be the result of the heart trying to believe in something the mind cannot accept but the “strong faith” God requires involves both the mind and the heart. Therefore it is important that we have reasons why we believe in an intelligent and rational manner.
Does this mean we can offer 100% proof? No, but there is virtually nothing of which we can be 100% sure. Yet, we often make 100% commitments with less than 100% proof such as riding in a car or flying on an airplane when we know not all airplanes nor all cars arrive safely at their destinations. We cannot be 100% certain that we will have a safe journey but the statistical evidence is strong enough to convince us that we will be safe so though we may not have 100% certainty of arriving safely, when we step on the plane or get in our car we make a 100% commitment! So the question becomes: is there enough evidence or proof to convince us to make a 100% commitment to Christ? I believe that there is enough evidence to commit myself 100% for Him, rather than be 100% against Him!
There is no other alternative, read Matt 12:30. Jesus is like an airplane; either we get on board totally, or we get left behind! So the christian faith is to be an intelligent rational faith. As an example, consider that the christian faith is a historical, factual faith.
Christianity appeals to history and to the facts of history. “The facts backing the christian claim are not a special kind of “religious” fact. They are the sound, tangible facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based. These historical facts then demonstrate that the christian interpretation is more logical than any other. To briefly demonstrate that christianity is based upon actual historical facts consider Luke 2:1-5; 3:1-2. Notice the appeal to time, places, people and events that really existed in history. The christian faith then is a historical faith that appeals to certain facts of historical occurrence. It is not a philosophical faith appealing to philosophies of men nor is it a faith based upon myths and legends. This is very important.
As we consider the evidences for the christian faith, it is also important to bear in mind that the christian faith is an objective faith. It is a faith in an object: Jesus of Nazareth. Faith in who He was: the Christ, the Son of God, and faith in what He did: He rose from the dead on the third day. It does make a difference what we believe! The old cliche “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe in something” is inconsistent with the christian faith. Consider John 8:24; Rom 10:9. Note that it is not faith in or of itself that is important but in whom (the object) our faith is based and the fact that He raised from the dead.
We believe the Bible is God’s word given to man to direct him in the way of righteousness, and to provide him with every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
How many times have you heard someone say, “He or she was saved last night and will be baptized later.” Friends, this form of teaching is not taught by the word of God. Anyone who believes that a person can be saved without water baptism have been deceived. Baptism is a work planned by God and anyone who fails to follow His Plan cannot be saved.
Where do people get all these strange ideas? People are being deceived just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Gen. 3:13) Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded of you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20)
Faith is one of the conditions upon which God will save us, or forgive us of our sins. The Bible plainly states that without faith it is impossible to please God. “James tells us plainly that a man can have a faith that is dead; a faith that is worth absolutely nothing to the one who possesses it.” (James 2:24)
If God forgives us, does it not become necessary for us to know when He does it? When we are baptized, we have not earned salvation but are simply complying with a condition set forth by God. God is giving us something that we could not possibly earn by our own works.
After hearing the Gospel of Christ, the eunuch said, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” He answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.” And he commanded the chariot to stand still, and they went down both into the water, both Philip, and the eunuch and he baptized him. (Acts 8:35-39)
People are not saved the moment they believe. Salvation comes when we listen and obey the word of God. When a person believes that Jesus is the Christ, he is only partially converted. A person must repent of his sins and confess that Jesus is the Son of God. A person who believes and has repented of his sins is still only partially converted. How do we know this? If the Bible is true, I know and you should too that he is not completely saved until he is baptized. Paul says, “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death.” (Rom 6:3)
How do we get into Christ? Paul says, “We are baptized into Christ.” Any man who says that he was saved before he was baptized has let the prince of this world (Satan) deceive him, and he is still in a lost condition. Baptism is the work of God. Many people do not understand the purpose of water baptism. Have you truly obeyed the Gospel?
The Bible, whether true or not, could be ignored were it not for one thing. That thing is death. We must all die, no way around it. Interestingly, the Bible declares this as a fact, read Heb 9:27. In addition to death it also declares that everyone will face a judgment after death.
If the Bible is true and this must be determined by each of us for ourselves; no one can make this determination for us. If it is true then, to ignore it amounts to spiritual suicide. The Bible says we are judging ourselves unworthy of everlasting life, Acts 13:46.
It seems to me that the best approach to the Bible is to at first take it at face value. Meaning, that we simply accept it as true. After all it claims to be true (John 17:17). Then, as we investigate it, we can judge its truthfulness based upon the evidence we discover along the way. You would think that if God is behind the Bible, all He really wants from us is a fair hearing of His word.
Here are some interesting declarations the Bible makes which to me adds to its authenticity. The Bible does claim to have its origin in the mind of God, 1 Cor 2:9-12 and God has revealed His thoughts to us through the person known mostly as the “Holy Spirit”, Jesus calls Him the “Comforter” 4 times in John chapters 14,15, and 16. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles and prophets who put God’s word into written form, John 14:26; Eph 3:5. The Holy Spirit no longer guides any man directly because today we have this treasure in earthen vessels, 2 Cor 4:7.
God declares the Bible to be complete and sufficient to supply us with every good work, 2 Tim 3:16-17. He declares that the good news (gospel) of His son Jesus is the power of God unto salvation. He declares His word is finished, Jude 3, and must not be added to nor taken away from, Rev 22:18-19. The Bible also declares that there is no other way to God except through His Son Jesus, John 14:6 and that anyone trying to do so is simply a thief and a robber, John 10:1,7. These kinds of statements are exactly what I would expect to find in a message from God. God claims it to be His work, that its message and it alone can save us and that it is not to be tampered with.
Even at this early stage of evaluation, the Bible is a work which takes on the air of truthfulness, of trustworthiness. Actually our examination of the Bible is never going to be over as long as we live. As long as we read and study the Bible we will be making new connections of truthfulness and opening new doors of understanding not recognized before. For the person with an open mind who is really seeking the truth, the Bible will abound more and more to a faith unshakable having no doubt they are looking into the mind of God.
The Scriptures reveal different instructions on how to obtain forgiveness for alien sinners outside of Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and for erring Christians guilty of sin (Acts 8:22; 1 Jn 1:19). The difference has been described by some as “God’s Two Laws Of Pardon”. For the alien sinner, there is God’s first law of pardon. Hear the gospel, believe that Jesus is the Christ, repent of sins, confess faith in Christ and be baptized for the remission of sins. For the erring Christian, there is God’s second law of pardon. Repent of sins, pray to God and confess sins to God. As we evangelize, we often spend much time explaining the first law. As Christians seeking to maintain our relationship with God, we should be equally concerned with the second law. So let’s take a closer look at “God’s Second Law Of Pardon.”
As Christians we must repent of sins. Notice that repentance is required in both laws of pardon (Acts 2:38; 8:22). What does it mean to repent? Literally, it means “a change of mind.” This change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God. Thus it involves making a decision to stop sinning. Just as the alien sinner is called to do so in becoming a Christian so the erring Christian must do to return to the Lord. Repentance is produced by “godly sorrow” (2 Cor 7:9-10). A sorrow for having sinned against God (Psa 51:4) as opposed to worldly sorrow for getting caught or being exposed. Repentance is also prompted by God’s goodness (Rom 2:4). Awareness of God’s grace and kindness should lead us to repent. Repentance will be shown by a significant change (2 Cor 7:11) such as diligence and zeal to do right; such as indignation for our sins and a desire to make right.
Christians must pray, so Peter told Simon when he sinned after having believed and was baptized (Acts 8:22). Compare this to God’s first law of pardon, baptism is an act of faith in which we make an appeal(1 Pet 3:21). Prayer is also an act of faith, as we appeal for forgiveness, yet alien sinners are commanded to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38) while erring Christians are commanded to repent and pray. The difference is understandable. Before baptism, one is not a child of God (Gal 3:26-27; Jn 3:3-5). After baptism, prayer is a privilege for those who are God’s children (Gal 4:6-7). Praying is effective for the Christian because of our two intercessors: Jesus, who understands our feelings (Heb 2:17-18;4:14-16;7:24-25) and the HolySpirit, who communicates our feelings (Rom 8:26-27).
As we pray, we must do so with humility, compare the difference between the Pharisee and the publican (Lk 18:9-14). God favors the humble and contrite in spirit (Psa 34:18; Isa 66:1-2).
Christians must confess, so John wrote to Christians, to experience God’s forgiveness (1 Jn 1:9). Compare this to God’s first law of pardon where confession is commanded, but not confession of sins. Instead, confession is made concerning Jesus Christ (Rom 10:9-10; Acts 8:37). The word “confess” comes from the Greek word homologeo “lit., to speak the same thing; to agree with, admit” -Vine. In regards to sin, it means to openly and honestly admit sin without hiding it or offering excuses for it (Dan 9:4-6,10-11,15). Confession of sins should be made continuously – for John literally wrote (1 Joh 1:9) “If we confess our sins…” for both known and unknown sins (Psa 19:12) always to God and sometimes to each other (Jam 5:16). God will be faithful, as John promised in encouraging us to confess our sins (1 Jn 1:9), this means He will be true to His promise. What promise? The promise found in the prophecy of the New Covenant, found in Jeremiah, repeated in Hebrews (Jer 31:31-34; He 8:7-13). “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb 8:12). God will be just, as John promised in encouraging us to confess our sins,(1 Jn 1:9), this means He will be righteous in forgiving our sins. How can this be? By virtue of the cleansing blood of Jesus! A cleansing alluded to earlier (1 Jn 1:7). So God can be both just and justifier of those who have faith in Christ(Rom 3:24-26). God will forgive and cleanse, no longer will the guilt of our sins be held against us! He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). The word “all” is reassuring; no sin is beyond God’s ability to forgive the penitent Christian who confesses their sin!
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” – Isa 55:6-7.
If we can learn what works the early church were engaged in, and duplicate them, we can rest assured that we are doing the WORKS which God has assigned for the church.
Some churches (FALSE) have become money making institutions, while others have become welfare stations, and still others have become recreational centers. Churches (denominations) across the world have misunderstood their PRIMARY PURPOSE for being in existence.
Paul commended the church at Thessalonica for becoming followers of the churches of God in Judea (1 Thess 2:14). One of the works in which the early church discharged duties was that of leading the members toward spiritual maturity. The elders of the church at Ephesus were instructed to, “TAKE HEED therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the CHURCH of GOD.”(Acts 20:28). The elders had the primary responsibility to feed the church in order to educate (TEACH) it enough in the Scriptures to PREVENT FALSE TEACHERS FROM DESTROYING THE FLOCK.
Participation in Bible studies, sermons, and gospel meetings are essential for the accomplishment of the perfecting of the saints. Also, another work for the early church was to help the needy saints. The early church pooled its resources to help the needy saints. When cases of necessity arose, the saints had all things in common (CHRISTIANS). Some members sold their property in order to feed the poor. (Acts 4:32-37)
As a CONGREGATION, the MEMBERS have a RESPONSIBILITY only to the SAINTS (CHRISTIANS). As INDIVIDUALS, the MEMBERS have a responsibility to all MEN, but especially to FELLOW SAINTS(CHRISTIANS).
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are the household of faith. (Gal. 6:10)
Another work of the church is to PREACH the GOSPEL to all the world, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
Another work of the church is to SUPPORT GOSPEL PREACHERS while they spread the gospel to the world, 2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:15; 1 Cor. 9:14.
There are also WORKS in which the church should not engage, “churches that are involved with RECREATION to such an extent that the church begins to look like a SOCIAL CLUB. Providing softball games, basketball games, teen outings, youth camps, youth groups are not the WORK of the TRUE CHURCH.
Clean recreation is not sinful, BUT the PARENTS, and not the CHURCH are the ones who are RESPONSIBLE for providing it to their children.
Also, the work of the church is NOT to sell clothes, food, provide hospitals, orphans homes, for all the world. The church has no responsibility to teach math, science, and etc. These obligations of educating CHILDREN are ones which BELONG to their PARENTS. The WORK of the TRUE CHURCH is “Go ye into all the world, and PREACH the GOSPEL. The GOSPEL is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. The world in which we live continues to change day by day but, “THE WORD OF GOD HAS NOT CHANGED, it remains the same.
Does it concern you that your religion might not be acceptable to God?
I hope you want to go to heaven when you die. I say this not because I actually think there are some people who might not want to go there but because when you look around at the way people live their lives, you can’t help but notice that most people show no sign that they have any real interest in their existence beyond the grave.
One thing is for sure, we are not going to accidentally go to heaven. If we make it there at all, it will be by design along with a lot of reading and studying the Bible combined with careful obedience to the will of God in our lives. No, we are not going to just wake up one fine day and discover ourselves in heaven due to no fault of our own. What I am saying is if you want to go to heaven, take charge of your destiny, pick up the road map which God has given us, the Bible, and allow it to guide you to a heavenly home.
The Bible has many characteristics in common with other maps. If you are not familiar with maps they can be hard to understand at first. You first have to find out where you are on the map and then where you want to end up. There are many new symbols that we must become accustomed to which will guide us on our journey from our present location to our final destination. There are often warnings of hazards we may encounter along our way and even detours may become necessary when we get lost or when corrections must be made in our present path.
When we have fully learned our map and can make use of all its guidance in directing us on our way, our trip to wherever we may want to go becomes a simple matter of following the map.
Reaching heaven is just like this. God’s road map to heaven is just as necessary and every bit as informative as any road atlas and we will not reach heaven without it. It is interesting that the Bible starts out by telling us we are lost, everyone of us, but that God has sent His son Jesus to seek us out and save us from our lost condition. Then, Jesus and the apostles carefully begin to create the guide posts which direct us in our search of heaven. While road maps are images symbolizing roads, the heavenly map is words symbolizing ideas but it is just as effective.
Let me ask you, if you were about to take a long journey to somewhere you had never been before, would you just get in your car and drive or would you first get a reliable map, study it, mark out your route and then plan your trip accordingly. Any reasonable person would do the latter and I think more especially so considering their eternal soul is at stake, because it is.
Is one religion as good as another? Many believe they are. However to find out the answer it is not what we believe that determines the truth but what the Bible says that really matters. What does the Bible say?
From Gen 4:3-5 we can see that the religion of Cain was not as good as the religion of Abel. God respected Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. Why? By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17), Abel obviously offered what God required while Cain offered something else.
The religion of the Canaanites was not as good as that which God gave to the Israelites at Horeb. The Israelites were warned to make no covenant with them nor with their gods (Ex 23:32). They were not to bow down to their gods, or even mention their names but to utterly destroy them along with the people. The children of Israel were strictly charged to keep the word of Jehovah without adding to or diminishing from it (Dt 4:2).
The religion which Jeroboam instituted was not as good as the religion in Jerusalem (1 Ki 12:26-33). He set up two golden calves one at Dan and the other at Bethel. He also made priests which were not Levites and ordained a feast day a month later than the one in Judah.
All of this he devised from his own heart. God sent a prophet who cried out against the kings alter. This thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam and to the kings who followed him.
Jesus did not consider the religion of the Pharisees to be as good as that from God (Mk 7:6-13). He accused them of making void the word of God by your tradition. He said that their worship was vain because they taught as their doctrines the traditions of men. He often warned His deciples against the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
The apostles did not regard the religion of the Jews or the Greeks to be as good as the religion of Christ. They preached to both groups and converted multitudes to the religion of the Lord. They preached that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone and that there is no religion but that of Christ (Acts 4:12).
The apostles refused to acknowledge any other religious teaching other than that which they preached by the Spirit. They charged men not to teach any other doctrine and to turn away from those who did. The epistles are full of warnings from the apostles about false teachers and the dangers of their doctrines.
Among the religions of men one may be as good as another but compared to the religion of Christ they are totally worthless.
The English translations of the Bible come from a variety of sources. How can we know which translations are good and which are not? Which translation is best?
To understand why we have different translations we must take a look at language itself. Both spoken and written language is a work in progress. That is, language is a dynamic process that began when mankind first appeared on the earth and will continue until we as humans no longer communicate with each other. Not only are there different languages spoken in different localities around the world but each individual language such as English is in constant flux. Consider the English spoken in mother England today as compared to the brand of English spoken in the United States. Many of the words are the same, many are not and there is a definite change in the way even the same words sound when spoken by someone in America as compared to someone in the United Kingdom. These changes have taken place in about 400 years, since this nation began to be settled in the early 1600’s. We could even imagine a time in the future when Americans might not be able to talk with someone from England.
The very nature of language requires that there be different translations of any book if everyone is going to be able to read them, the Bible included. While accuracy may not matter in the case of literature it certainly does matter when it comes to knowing the will of God and knowing what it takes to make heaven our home. Fortunately, it is not so difficult as you might imagine.
Remember the thousands of copies of the original books of the Bible that we do have. They will never change. Those who know Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek today read the original copies the same as language experts did in the past and the same as those will in the future. Only the words into which they are translated will change. This is why we have so many choices of translations of the Bible today. A new one comes along every few years reflecting a slightly different form of the language in use at that time. In general, the older the translation the more removed it is from the current use of language and the harder it is to understand. There is one great caution however. There can and does exist corrupted translations which do not reflect the meaning of the original works. Generally speaking, good translations are the result of the work of a large group of translators. Generally, poor translations are produced by the work of only a few or just one man, thereby reflecting their individual religious bias.
Each of us should definitely have several different translations of the Bible. Then by comparing one with another, we are much more likely to arrive at the correct understanding of truth. All translations have strengths and weaknesses. Don’t place your total confidence in any one translation at the exclusion of all others.
This article was written to show the difference between the teaching of the ONE TRUE CHURCH and the many false churches.
The question was, “How does one come to Christ for salvation in order for one to become a child of God?” All must be TAUGHT THE TRUTH and LEARN from HIS BOOK, THE BIBLE. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall ALL be TAUGHT OF GOD. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the FATHER comes to Me. (John 6:44,45)
It is very important for people to be taught that if God has not authorized a thing in worship, we MUST NOT and SHOULD NOT USE IT. There are many examples found in the Bible about people who failed to follow God’s instruction. “Without faith one cannot please God.” (Heb. 11:6)
A good example of this can be found in the Old Testament about Nadab and Abihu. God had given Nadab and Abihu instruction as to what kind of fire to offer. These two men offered a STRANGE FIRE before Jehovah which He had not commanded them. “And there came forth fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah.” (Lev. 10:1, 2)
These two men lost their lives because they thought what they did was right. This same thing continues to happen today with all the religious confusion. Denominations are teaching contrary to the world of God and failing to follow His instruction.
People tend to think they can worship the Lord in any way and be pleasing unto Him. The plain TRUTH about the matter is that we can’t follow after the traditions and commandments of men and be right in the sight of God. We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
Some religious groups teach that where ever you are this minute (it doesn’t make any difference where), bow your head and pray this simple prayer: “Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and unless you save me I am lost forever. I come to you now, the best WAY I know how, and ask you to save me. I receive you as my personal Savior and trust you to justify me.” Anyone who believes this doctrine of man has truly been deceived and does not know the TRUTH about GOD’S SIMPLE PLAN OF SALVATION. How can anyone receive Christ as their personal Savior without doing what He has commanded? What happened to Nadab and Abihu with their strange fire? Are you willing to risk your soul for some strange way? What about the Lord’s way instead of some man’s strange way? Hearing the word of God is necessary to one calling upon the Lord to be saved. The Bible warns us to “Take heed what you hear.” (Mark 4:24) and also “Take heed how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18)
Now we know that God does not hear sinners but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. (John 9:3 1) ANYBODY can call upon the name of the Lord, but He only hears those who do his will.
God created the heavens and the earth as well as mankind (Gen 1). He gave us dominion over the earth and its animals and permission to multiply and replenish the earth (Gen 1:26-28). God placed upon mankind a solemn duty (Ecc 12:13)but does not actually force us to fulfill that duty. However, the New Testament is filled with warnings of failing to take seriously our duty to God(2 Thess 1:8). This life is a test to be followed by a judgment (Heb 9:27). We will be judged by the words written in the books, Old Testament for the Jews up until Jesus died, then the New Testament for everyone since then. We will be judged according to our works ( Rev 20:12). The outcome of this judgment will send us to either eternal life with God (1 Joh 5:11)or to a second death which is eternal separation from God (Rev 21:8). In times past, God spoke to us through the prophets but in these last days He has spoken to us through His son Jesus Christ (Heb1:1-2).
Man’s problem is the transgression of God’s law called sin (Rom 3:23). Since we have all sinned, we all need a way to find forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38)or we will be lost to the second death in the judgment. God has graciously made a way by which we can have remission (forgiveness)of our sins (Acts 2:47). God put His plan into action by sending His Son Jesus to the earth to fulfill the law of Moses (Mat 5:17) and bring the Old Testament to an end there by ending the Jewish age (Heb 10:9;Col 2:14)and establishing the Christian age, uniting both Jew and Gentile (Eph 2)under one new covenant, the New Testament.
Under God’s plan of redemption, God would have a part and man would have a part. God’s part (John 3:16)would be to send His Son as a sacrificial lamb to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He would be born of a virgin; know every temptation of man yet live a sinless life.
He would suffer and shed His blood on a cross paying the price for the sins of the world, die and be raised the third day to show His power over death and ascend back into heaven.
Man’s part (Acts 2:37) is a proper response to God’s call to us (2 Thess 2:14). Our response begins when we hear the good news (gospel)of Jesus Christ. A proper response produces faith (Rom 10:17). Proper faith produces repentance (Acts 17:30). God requires confession of faith that Jesus is His Son (Acts 8:37;Rom 10:9-10). Finally, to become a Christian and to receive remission of sins, a person must submit to water baptism which according to Romans chapter six is a symbolic death, burial, and resurrection which unites us with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection and accomplishes the following things. Keep in mind these things take place in the mind of God and are therefore spiritual, nonetheless, are of the utmost importance to our eternal destiny. First, as we approach the watery grave of baptism we are spiritually dead, separated from God, we are about to crucify the old man of sin (Rom 6:6). Christ shed His blood in His death, therefore as we sink into the watery grave we contact the cleansing power of His blood (Rev 1:5) and our sins are forgiven (Matt 26:28). Then just as Jesus was raised to live again, we too are raised a new creation (Rom 6:11). We are now made alive spiritually unto God and this is how and why He adds us to the church. God views us completely differently and we should see ourselves differently also. We should see ourselves dead to sin but alive to God. I hope this has simplified to some degree this process for you.
In the last few chapters of Acts, we see the perils of the Apostle Paul. Being accused by his own countrymen, who would rather that he was dead, Paul was given many opportunities to preach the Gospel to those that were in authority. In Acts chapter 24, we see Paul being accused before governor Felix. He was simply being accused of being a Christian. But nonetheless, he cheerfully gave his defense. He started out by saying that the accusations brought against him by his own Jewish brethren were not so. The only thing that he could be called in question about, is found in verses 14-16 “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: (15) And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (16) And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.” Paul goes on to say in verse 21 “Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.”
Even in the midst of these very serious charges that were brought against Paul (Vs. 5-6), God’s providence was working in this very situation. We see that Paul had opportunity, even in this distress of his life, to preach the Gospel to governor Felix. In verse 25, it says that Paul reasoned with Felix about righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. Paul was telling him what Almighty God expected of him, and how he would be able to make himself acceptable to God. Paul was teaching Felix about self control, something he obviously didn’t have much of, being persuaded by bribes of money (verse 26), and by implication, the self control that it takes to be a Christian and keeping ones body under control to not become rejected in that last day (1 Cor. 9:27).
We also see Paul preaching to Felix about the judgment to come, about the day that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10) to give account of the deeds that we have done in this life (2 Cor 5:10).
Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:11, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” This is the reason he was giving His defense here before Felix. A very commanding speech he made, boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But what was the response he received? The Words of Life that Paul preached to Felix made him tremble (Acts 24:25). He realized that what Paul was saying was true. But did he respond favorably to the Gospel (1 Pet. 1:22)? No, Felix answered and said “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Not now Paul, I cannot obey God now. When the time comes that it is easier for me, I will call back for you. It is very sad to note that we never find in the Scriptures that Felix ever obeyed God.
Are you a “Felix”? Do you understand what it takes to be righteous before God, but yet have not obeyed him? Are you waiting for that “convenient season”? To be righteous before God takes more than just saying that I believe in Jesus, and accept him in my life. You must obey the Gospel; Believe (Rom 10:9), Repent (Acts 17:30), Confess Christ (Acts 8:37), and be baptized for the remission of sins (1 Pet. 3:20-21).
Many people throughout the world say that they believe in God and put their trust in the Holy Bible. The majority of these people say that they believe in God but fail in following the teaching of the Bible. Many people will be lost, not because of what they did, but because of what they failed to do. Jesus said, “And why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)? To hear what Jesus teaches and not to respond is as foolish as building a house with no thought for its foundation.
The Bible plainly says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16). Man says, “He that believeth shall be saved”. Who are we to believe, God or some man. Many people say they believe in God but refuse to follow His written instruction in the Bible. Anyone who says they were saved before being baptized is still in a lost condition because they have failed to comply with the teaching of Christ. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”, then why won’t you believe it.
Many people are going to be lost because they let their emotions and feelings serve as a guide. On the day of Pentecost the people asked Peter and the rest of the Apostles. “Men and brethren what shall we do”? Peter said unto them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, (Acts 2:37-38). Then they gladly received his word were baptized, (verse 47). Does not the Bible plainly say they were baptized after hearing Peter telling them what they must do?
Philip preached to the eunuch as they went on their way. They came unto a certain water and the eunuch said, “See here is water, what hinder me to be baptized”? After making the good confession that Jesus is the Son of God they went down both into the water and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:26-39). Does not the Bible say after Philip preached the gospel to the eunuch he was baptized. How can anyone say that they believe in God and teach that one can be saved without water baptism. Baptism is absolutely necessary in order to be saved from our sins according to the word of God. Since God dwells in us “by faith” and faith comes by hearing the word of God, therefore, God does not dwell in those who do not believe the word.
Man is separated from God by sin. How can people live and be at peace with their own conscience when they know that so many are dying without hope in this present world.
Man has the written word of God to guide him through life and beware of those who use the word of God deceitfully (2 Cor. 4:2). If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you. People will use the thief on the cross as an example to try and prove that a person can be saved without water baptism (Luke 23:39-43).
While Jesus was alive upon this earth, He had power to forgive sins. The thief on the cross was not added to the Church because Christ had to die before His Testament came into effect. The thief on the cross cannot even be called a Christian because the Church had not been established yet. Many religious groups throughout the world teach that all you have to do to be saved is asked (pray) Christ to come into your heart. Then after you are saved this person needs to find a good Bible Church and be baptized. Anyone who teaches this knows very little about the Plan of Salvation taught in the Holy Bible. Instead of people listening to God for the plan of salvation, people are letting their feelings be their guide. One can and must know the truth in order to be saved from sin. When men decide to go beyond what is written, to reach conclusions which cannot be justified on the basis of the teaching of God’s word, and to teach outside the revelation of God’s will, religious division occurs. God expects us all to understand His word alike in order that we all might be united in Christ.
“If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God”, (1 Peter 4:11). Baptism is absolutely necessary in order to be saved from our sins according to the word of God. One must hear the Gospel, learn and believe it, confess that Jesus is the Son of God, repent of their sins, and be baptized into Christ, (Romans 6:3). In Acts 2 verse 41, “then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved (verse 47). To fail to stand up and fight for the cause of Christ is to act cowardly. To claim fellowship with God while refusing to abide by His will is hypocrisy. Many people go around saying how they love Jesus but refuse to obey Him and keep His commandments, (Matthew 7:21-23). Are you a true follower of Christ?
On TV we see police officers chasing bad guys all the time and actually commanding them to stop. Why were they able to do this? Authority. What is authority? By definition, it is the power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge. Also one that is invested with this power, especially a government or government officials, but more than this, authority is the right to rule.
A lack of respect for authority can get us in real trouble. A lack of respect for Biblical authority is getting a lot of churches in trouble today. It is important for Christians to understand how Biblical authority is established. Biblical authority is so important in the church. It determines how we are to worship God. It determines how we are to work. It determines how we can be saved. Today, we will observe the different kinds of authority and the chain of authority. Later we shall examine the different ways the Bible authorizes, and the way we must respect God’s authority.
There are two kinds of authority. First, there is primary authority. Primary authority is not derived, but original, absolute authority and those commanded have the duty to obey. God is the fountain of all primary authority whether it be in the civil or religious field (John 19:10-11). God has the absolute right to command, because He is our Maker, Preserver and Benefactor (Gen 1:1; 2 Cor 5:18). God is 1st in position and importance. God is the highest authority in the universe. We are the creatures of God’s hands and the product of His intelligence. It is our absolute duty to obey Him (Deut 13:4;Acts 5:29;Ecc12:13).
Second, there is delegated authority. Delegated authority is the authority which can be given to another by the party holding primary authority. First, God delegated authority to His Son (John 5:26-27; Mat 28:18). Jesus stands nearest to the Father in delegated authority (Heb 1:3). Jesus is a reflection of the purity of God. Jesus is a manifestation of the power of God. Jesus is a declaration of the love of God. Second, Christ delegated authority to the apostles. Jesus instructed them face-to-face while on the earth (Mat 18:18). Jesus instructed them through the Holy Spirit from heaven (John 16:13). Third, the apostles delegated authority to no one. However, the apostolic authority is in the written word (Luke 10:16).
There is a chain of authority. Authority extended from the Father to the Son (Mat 17:1-5). Jesus placed authority in the words He spoke (John 12:48). As a result we will not be judged by what we think (Isa 55:8-9), what seems all right (Prov 14:12), by our hearts or feelings (Prov 28:26), by preachers, pastors, priests (1 Cor 4:6) or by creeds, prayer books or manuals. Our access to authority today rests in the New Testament (1 Cor 14:37; 2 Pet 3:15-16; 2 Tim 3:16-17). By it we will be judged. It is the end of the chain of authority extending from God to us. Next time we will consider the different ways the Bible authorizes, Lord willing.
How far will you go to try to prove what you believe? What I am trying to say is if someone pointed out to you in God’s Holy Word that something that you have done, or are doing at this point is condemned, would you listen? Or would you be of the multitudes that would try to explain that what God was actually trying to say here is something entirely different, something that does not apply to you. When I look, with my minds eye, out at the religious world, I see this very thing happening. Multitudes of people are misapplying the Words of my God and twisting them to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).
I see people who think that they are advancing very far in their denomination, and maybe they are. I see people who are putting forth a lot of effort, time, and money in accomplishing things that the Lord has not authorized or said anything about in his Word. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul who was a very zealous Pharisee in the Jews religion (Php 3:3-7). Yet he had not listened to the Word of God. He had done things contrary to the name (authority) of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:9). realized that he was wrong, he changed (Acts 26:19). This is what we all must do when we realize we are in error. We need to be more like the noble Bereans we see in Acts 17. They searched the scriptures daily to see if the things they were being taught were so (Acts 17:11). It is very dangerous to our souls to just fall into the crowd, to do what everyone around us is doing, especially religiously.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 KJVR “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
I see those also around me who will not listen to the whole counsel of God. They may listen to some of the things that God would have them to hear, but yet they disregard the rest of it. My friends, how can this be? All Scripture is inspired of God (2 Tim 3:16-17), how can we pick and choose what we want to believe? We need to be people that go back to the Book, and rightly divide it (2 Tim. 2:15), for everything we believe and practice. This is the plea of the Apostles to not go beyond what they had been taught (Rom. 16:17-18; Php 3:17-19). This is what Moses taught the children of Israel in Deu. 4:1-2. This is what Jesus Christ taught in Rev. 22:18-19. This is what we still must do today.
Preaching and studying the Bible is an effective way to save souls, as well as to edify and motivate the church. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). People need to know they are lost if they have not obeyed the gospel. They need to be brought face to face with their sins. Sin is transgression of the law, (1 John 3:4). Any thought, word, or act that violates the will of God is Sin. “Those who do not obey shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord,” (Thess. 1:9).
If it takes more than the Gospel to bring man to Salvation, then God’s power is not sufficient. “Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience, (Eph. 5:6). Disobedience occurs when man substitutes his way for God’s way. If we believe that God is wise and capable of arranging a worship that suits Him, why not do everything according to His instruction? “Whosoever transgresseth and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 John 9).
A lost person must be taught the word of God and believe it before he or she can come to God. For if a sinner has not been taught the word (truth) of God, James says, “that the man that asks without faith receives nothing of the Lord (James 1:6-7).
We must hear and be taught, so that we will learn what one must do in order to be pleasing unto God. So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
When we leave God out of His own plan of salvation for man, then we are doing ourselves great harm, for we will lose our souls. When we do more or less in that which God had commanded, our feeling and emotions become the false and fatal guide to anyone who will not hear God’s word. If we follow the teaching of Christ, we will direct all honor to the Lord. We cannot hold to the traditions of men and lay aside the commandments of God.
Human creeds and doctrines of man causes divisions which leads to denominations, making the word of God void, or of none effect, causing vain worship. Jesus said, “God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
Do you honestly know or understand God’s plan of salvation? Do you know that sinners must believe (John. 20:30-31)? Do you know that sinners must repent (Acts 17:30)? Did you know that a sinner must confess Jesus Christ as the “Son of God” (Romans 10:9-10)? Did you know that sinners must be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? If you understand God’s word, do you believe it? Why do you wait?
Let us imagine for a moment that for some reason our government actually legalized murder. No longer would any arm of the law in this country investigate, charge, prosecute or imprison anyone thought to have killed or having been seen killing another human being. Imagine the consequences of such an act, the chaos, the fear, the suffering and the deterioration that society would undergo.
I raise this thought, as you may have guessed, because this very thing has already taken place and while its impact is limited to a only a certain segment of humanity, it still is in fact real and its consequences are terrible. It is called abortion.
Statistics show the magnitude of what has taken place since its legalization in 1973. Some 37 to 44 million babies have been reported to have been aborted in this country. Some sources indicate the numbers to be much higher. The US population is around 295 million therefore some 12 to 15 percent of all Americans have been destroyed by this law known as Rowe vs Wade. This is about 1 in every 7 to 8 people.
Our legal system and its advocates justify themselves with numerous arguments based upon certain rights and logical reasoning which appeal to many. However one thing cannot be denied and that is that a human being is essentially a process which begins at conception and does not end till death.
The main difference in those of us who have been born and those who have not is the part of this living process we happen to be in. To willfully and intentionally interrupt this process at any stage kills a human being and this cannot be denied.
Further still, government has now shown that is willing to legalize the murder of other innocent and helpless humans as has taken place in the highly publicized case of Terry Schiavo, a Florida resident who suffered brain damage from a heart attack. Unable to speak or defend herself, her life was ended at the direction of the courts after months of deliberation. How many Terry’s, do you suppose have taken place in this country which have not received this kind of notoriety.
Looking at these events from a social perspective, they make us wonder how could this be happening. However, from the perspective of God, it is even worse. God recognizes human life at all stages of its existence (Luk 1:41, Jer 1:5) and He will hold those accountable who are responsible for the murder of these unborn (2 Cor 5:10). Furthermore, God may very well punish this nation for the atrocities committed here (Jonah 1:2;3:4). Right now the future of this country does not appear very bright unless we repent as a nation (Jonah 3:10)and once again adhere to the concept of one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of individual messages from the scriptures. All of them are important and can take literally a lifetime to learn. However, there are some basic lessons to be learned which are nevertheless extremely important.
Perhaps the greatest of all lessons to be learned from scripture is that there is a God who created us and loves us enough to allow His only Son to suffer and die on a cross that we might have hope. This is a wonderful message to those who are in doubt as to who they are and what this life is all about. Human life consists of more than just the few short and troublesome years spent here in this body. We are eternal creatures, with spirits that will exist forever. This life is but a trial, to see if we will recognize our God and to demonstrate our willingness to obey Him. If we are found to be faithful to His will, we will spend eternity with Him as the recipient of His abundant grace. If not, we will be eternally separated from Him and all that He can do and does for us even now while we live here in this trial period.
Some may wonder or doubt that the Bible is able to teach such an important lesson. It is my personal and sincere belief that the Bible can do just that. It can fully convince a person who is honest and has a desire to know the truth that God is real and is the master of all He surveys. This is not just my belief but also is a claim made by the Bible itself in John 20:31.
We live in a world filled with trouble and hardship. Uncertainty is ever present with us for we can only be certain that we are going to die and face judgment.
All hope for our future lies in the promises offered to us on the pages of God’s precious word. These promises are not primarily concerned with the life we now live because we do not even have the promise of tomorrow. However, there are conditional promises which offer unbounded hope to those who love the truth and obey the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The whole of the Bible is divided into two parts, the first tells us that Christ is coming, Christ is coming, over and over again. The second part tells us that Christ is here, Christ is here. All of the wonderful promises to us in scripture can only be obtained through and by the authority of Jesus who has all power both in heaven and on the earth. Jesus has granted us a way into Heaven. He has this power. He is the only one who can do this and the way into Heaven will be found by only a very few people. If you would like to be one of this select group, the Bible offers these suggestions: (1) be a lover of the truth; (2) study your Bible that you may distinguish truth from error; (3) observe all things that are taught to us by Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets of the New Testament; (4) remain faithful until death. It is only by following these principles that we can go to Heaven and avoid eternal punishment in the fire of Hell.
What we believe is an interesting subject. I don’t know if you’ve thought about it very much, but there is nothing about us that has any greater impact on our lives than the system of beliefs we have about ourselves and the world we live in. I say system of beliefs because we don’t believe just one thing, we have hundreds of beliefs perhaps thousands and no two of us have exactly the same set of beliefs. Our individual belief systems can draw us together or pull us apart. They can propel us forward or drag us down in whatever we do. For this reason, we must always be ready to examine our beliefs and be willing to make changes in them when we find evidence that what we believe is wrong.
While our beliefs do influence every aspect of our lives, there is no part of our existence which is affected any more by them than in religion. Have you considered how we, as individuals, form our religious beliefs? Looking at the state of religion around us, I would describe it like this. Its kinda like going to the religious supermarket. A huge store with literally thousands of religious beliefs on the shelves. As we roll our cart down the aisles, we get a little of this and a little of that. Oh! I like that a lot but that over there, I don’t like that at all. We go down the aisles till our cart is full and now we have all the religious beliefs we want and go merrily on our way. One thing is for sure, we sure have a lot to choose from in religion and most people exercise this privilege to suit one person, them self.
However, there are some truths about religion that indicate that the shopping mart approach to religion is all wrong. If the Bible is true and my foremost belief is that it is true Joh 17:17, then any religion based on something other than the Bible is not only useless but hinders the formation of beliefs based on truth Heb 1:1. Remember this. Any belief based upon a lie has no real benefit and can only harm us Joh 14:6. Another truth from the Bible is that God is the author and finisher of true religion Heb 12:2, all else is man made and therefore false religion Gal 1:8-9. False religion is vain having no value Matt 15:9. Another religious truth is that God’s religion, true religion, is a package deal Rev 22:18-19;Deu 4:2. We must accept it or reject it in its entirety, no picking and choosing at our discretion. If we reject any, we have rejected it all. If we go beyond what is allowed we again reject it all. True religion is a straight and narrow pathway, no detours and no byways Matt 7:14. It leads to only one place, heaven. All else leads away from heaven and you don’t want to go there.
Little else is as important as what we believe. If we are to grow and be all that we can be, we must be ready to examine our beliefs and modify them to conform to truth as it presents itself. In no other way is this as important as in religion.
We have a great and wonderful God. Of course not everyone would agree with me on this point but in as much as a person can know of such things, I know and am convinced that our God is even greater and more wonderful than we can even imagine.
Our title is How Great Thou Art. The same as the song we find in our Hymn books and oh how true it is. Gods power and might and majesty are revealed in His creation. The universe is bigger than we can see or even imagine, it contains more worlds than we could even count. The Earth itself could not hold all the books it would take to describe the information contained in the visible universe. Yet this is only a small remnant of Gods realm. The unseen, that which the Bible refers to as the spiritual world, is Gods dwelling place and the spiritual world puts this carnal, physical world to shame by comparison. God is master of all, creator of all things through Jesus, all knowing. He exists everywhere at the same time. He is all powerful.
In spite of Gods unlimited power and might, He is a God of love and compassion and a God of justice. He is present with us in our minds and hearts and knows when we are hurt or in pain. He feels our heartaches, our despair, our every need.
God made us for the specific purpose of recognizing and serving Him, yet for all His superiority over us He will not force us to do anything. How easy it would be for Him to have us all marching to His tune but God will not exercise this advantage He has over us.
It is obvious that this world goes on day by day missing the whole point of there being a world at all. We are not here simply to fulfill our individual goals and wishes. To get the best job. To make a lot of money. To live in a fine house. To achieve power or fame or any such thing. We are here to praise our Lord and Creator. To fulfill His desires in our lives and to bring Him whatever honor and recognition we can in so doing securing Gods approval and blessings upon ourselves as well.
If God is not in your life He should be. Without Him we are useless creatures who have not found our place. Struggling to achieve some personal goal which even if reached has no lasting reward.
Only God holds the future. A future with Him holds all good possibilities. Without Him we are nothing.
Were there no such thing as sin, we would all be much better off. Sin is the transgression of Gods law and we have been under its condemnation ever since Eve was deceived by Satan in the garden of Eden. God has many laws. Therefore, we can sin in a number of different ways and while the consequences of every sin is different, they all have two things in common. One is that they all cause suffering and another is that they all separate us from God. So while different sins result in a different level of suffering, some great and some not as great, they all cause suffering, sometimes even for generations after a sin is committed. Obviously, murder would usually cause more suffering than say dishonesty but of course under certain circumstances it can be just a harmful.
There are certain sins that God particularly hates. Seven of these are spelled out in Proverbs 6:16-19. They are 1. a proud look, 2. a lying tongue, 3. hands that shed innocent blood, 4. a heart that devises wicked thoughts, 5. feet that are swift in running to mischief, 6. a false witness that speaks lies, and 7. anyone that sows discord among the brethern. Even though sin has caused mankind a tremendous amount of heartache since God placed us here upon the earth, it has had its toll on God as well. In addition to the obvious grief God experiences as He looks down on us from above, witnessing mans inhumanity to man, He has also suffered the particularly grievous pain of watching His only Son suffering and dying on a cross in order that we might have a remedy for our sins.
Up until recently, this nation has endured Gods definition of sin pretty well. However, in recent times our government has taken it upon itself to not only question Gods judgment of what sin is or is not but has since 1973, by the legislative process, begun to openly declare even the murder of the unborn to be perfectly fine. If then our government can redefine the sin of murder then what next? The next has now been clearly shown to be the redefining of marriage and the legalization of homosexuality, which is clearly identified as a sin by God in Rom 1:26-27 as well as other places. Furthermore, as if our political leaders have not already gone too far, the political winds are blowing which promise legislation which will declare it a hate crime to even say that homosexuality is sinful. This law would apply most specifically to the pulpit and open the door for governmental control over anything taught by any religious group. It would in effect end any separation between church and state and bring an end to religious freedom as we know it.
To declare homosexuality a sin is not to say that it is worse than other sins. It too can be repented of and received forgiveness for. However, the full legal acceptance of this type of sin could return this country to the days of Sodom and Gomorrah and we should all remember what happened to them.
When you read this article, you may wonder why it is that we are critical of the teaching of other religious groups that have different teaching than ours. Perhaps you feel we are unkind or somehow arrogant in the way we treat the belief of others. The reason we are the way we are is not out of dislike or envy, but it is because we have a responsibility to Jesus and to the souls of people who might be saved by hearing the truth as it comes from the Bible.
The role of the church of Jesus Christ on earth, among other things, is taught in 1 Tim 3:15. Here it describes the church as “the pillar and ground of the truth”. It is not difficult to discern the relationship and the responsibility of the church to the truth when we examine this passage. Pillars are support structures which hold up the overhead portions of buildings, thus the church supports or holds up the truth in situations where there are those who would tear it down or cause the truth to falter. In like manner just as the earth itself is the basic support body of all that we do, so also the church is not only the pillar but also the ground of the truth.
Whenever and wherever there is false information about the Bible being presented to the public, the church has a responsibility to defend the truth. It is a grave Christian responsibility.
The strange thing is that the denominations of churches which preach false doctrine make little or no attempt, as far as I am aware, to defend what they teach.
Is it that they know that they are wrong in what they teach or is it simply that they do not feel that they are the pillar and ground of the truth that the Bible indicates in 1 Tim 3:15? But then you can not defend very well that which is false. The Bible talks about this in 2 Pet 3:16 where it says that the unstable and the unlearned will twist (wrest) the things written in the scriptures to their own destruction. Virtually all defenses of false doctrine use this tactic of twisting the scriptures so they seem to say things that the Bible does not teach. This is why we are to prove all things and hold fast that which is good, 1 Thess 5:21. Ultimately we are all responsible for what we believe to be true. We have the Bible which is the source of all spiritual truth, so why are any of us still ignorant? In this day and age, ignorance is a willful act. The truth has been available for 2000 years.
As always the Church Of Christ in Clintwood stands behind any and all of its teaching as coming from what the Bible teaches. We will defend what we speak or write publicly or privately. It is our prayer that anything you find questionable in our teaching will be compared to what the Bible says and if you find we are in error please bring it to our attention for we are earnestly seeking the truth which is able to direct us toward heaven.
The word “baptism” or one of its forms is used in the New Testament 91 times (KJV). The message of baptism as taught by the scriptures is often overlooked, distorted or even ignored by many of those who claim to be followers of Christ. As always, we should let the scriptures speak for itself concerning this or any other subject about which God has given us revelation. The words baptize, baptism, baptized, etc. are English translations of the Greek word “baptizo” meaning “to immerse.” During the act of baptism one is completely covered or buried in water therefore sprinkling or pouring does not fit the definition for baptism.
Baptism is a command of the Lord according to Mark 16:15-16. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” This commandment is repeated by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” and restated in Acts 10:48 “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Peter again emphasized the necessity of baptism in 1 Pet 3:21 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)”.
From these passages we can see that baptism is a command of the Lord, that it is to be accomplished in His name (meaning by His authority) and that it is necessary for salvation. This cannot be denied.
The apostles Peter and Paul go on to explain what actually takes place when one is baptized in the name of our Lord. Through baptism: we have remission of sins, Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16, we are united with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, Rom 6:3-4, we put on Christ, Gal 3:27, we are in Christ, Rom 6:3, we have newness of life, Rom 6:5-6, we are made alive with Christ, Col 2:12;Titus 3:5, we are freed from the power of sin, Rom 6:7;11-14, we are free to become servants of righteousness, Rom 6:16-18.
In spite of all that the new Testament tells us about baptism, there are those who still insist that it is not necessary and plays no part in the salvation of man. I ask you, when you stand in the judgment without having been baptized in the name of our Lord. Do you think you will miss all of the benefits baptism obviously brings? What excuse will you offer Jesus for failing to obey His direct command? Consider it now for in the judgment it will be far too late.
Sanctification is one of those messages from the scriptures that we dont hear too much about. It is a word which is easy to define yet much more difficult to properly understand. It is an action which God performs (Jude 1) and simply means to be separated out of the world for Gods holy purpose. When completed, sanctification changes a sinner into a saint and therefore leads to salvation, 2 Thess 2:13.
Fortunately, there is a lot written in the Bible about sanctification. Mentioned 98 times in the Old Testament and 28 times in the New Testament, (KJV) we have no shortage of passages which shed light on this topic. Sanctification is a process which involves a number of important actions. According to Heb 10:10 and Heb 13:12 it involves the body and blood of Jesus specifically His death on the cross. Therefore, God considers sanctification important enough that He was willing to send Jesus, His only Son, to suffer and die so that we may enjoy the benefits that sanctification can provide. While Jesus died for the sins of the world, not everyone will benefit from His great sacrifice because God requires that we too play a part in our own sanctification as well. A part that most of us will never finish.
The apostle Paul points out that sanctification is also accomplished through the spirit (the word of God, Eph 6:17) and through belief of the truth, 2 Thess 2:13. Jesus Himself makes the same declaration in John 17:17. Even more about the process of sanctification is revealed by the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 1:2 where he also declares sanctification is through the spirit (again Gods word) then he adds, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.
Remember that sanctification requires at least the following events. The death of Jesus on the cross, this is Gods part. Belief in Gods revealed word, God does the revealing, faith is our part, Rom 10:17. After this we are to be obedient to the commandments set forth in the New Testament.
Understanding sanctification and the process which brings it about is extremely important in becoming a Christian and receiving a crown of eternal life. God has already done most of the work in our sanctification by paying the price for our sins and giving us the guide which keeps us on the right path. As usual the weak link in the chain of events which lead us to heaven is us and our failure to use His word which is designed to produce faith, as well as our unwillingness to learn of those commandments which lead to becoming a Christian and living a faithful Christian life.
Our response to Gods word will determine our ultimate destiny. Through it we can be sanctified, we can be justified 1 Cor 6:11, we can be forgiven, we can become Christians, Saints and adopted sons of God. Without it we will be lost eternally.
Honesty is a word that we are all familiar with. Most of us have been taught to be honest most of our lives. You know, to be fair in our dealings with others. Obey the law. Pay our taxes. Tell the truth, etc.
Jesus makes honesty an essential part of being a Christian, Luke 8:15. Combined with a good heart, an honest heart will respond to the word of God bringing forth fruit. Not often mentioned but of vital importance is the fact that while we must be honest with others if we are to see heaven, it is just as necessary, if we really want to go to heaven, to be honest with ourselves.
We can be dishonest with ourselves in many ways. All it takes is a willingness on our part to ignore the truth when accepting a lie suits us better. Why would anyone do such a thing, you may ask? The reasons are almost endless. They include money, sex, power, fame, respect, pleasure to name a few. Generally, our honesty comes into question whenever we are faced with an option of doing the wrong thing in order to achieve an advantage(real or imagined) or to avoid pain(physical or emotional). Being honest with ourselves is not as easy as it may seem. It really takes a lot of character.
While we can be dishonest with ourselves in ways great and small, two examples illustrate the severity of this type of behavior. One is drug addiction. Addicts continue to use drugs knowing that it can ruin relationships, lives and even bring death, all the while telling themselves they can control it.
However, the most costly form of self dishonesty takes place when we tell ourselves we are ok in the sight of God. Consider, God has given us the Bible that we may know the truth and the truth can set us free, John 8:32. God also wrote the Bible to convince us that Jesus is His Son and that we might have life through His name, John 20:30-31. God tells us to study to show ourselves approved unto God that we may not be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Tim 2:15.
When we tell ourselves we are all right with God and ignore the truth, we deny ourselves eternal life and commit our own soul to everlasting separation from the presence of God, 2 Thess 1:9, and to suffering that will never end, Mark 9.
In every respect we must be honest with ourselves if we are to enjoy the benefits that truth has to offer. While this is important in the here and now, this principal will determine our eternal destiny.
Have you studied your Bible? Are you able to properly understand Gods will? Do you really know how God forgives sin? Do you know the manner of life God expects of His people? Do you really know how to avoid spending eternity in hell? Be honest, to thy own self be true.
Have you ever heard someone ask a preacher or perhaps asked one yourself, “are you the pastor”? This is a simple question that might be heard almost anywhere on a Sunday in this area as well as many other places. The question is seemingly so innocent that hardly anyone would think there could be anything wrong with it yet while the question itself is not malicious, anyone who asks this question has a problem.
Why, what problem you may ask? The problem is that anyone asking this question has a lack of knowledge which places their soul in jeopardy. Most people today are not aware of the Biblical use of the term “pastor”.
The word “pastor” is used only one time in the New Testament, Eph 4:11. It is listed along with the words, apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers. It is interesting that a word used only once has become almost the universal term for addressing ministers of any kind. The Greek word for pastor is “poimen” and means shepherd or pastor. The word shepherd is found 17 times in the New Testament. A pastor or shepherd is literally one who watches over a flock of sheep.
The Bible uses this concept of caring for a flock to describe the position God has appointed as the spiritual leaders of His flock, the church. This position is referred to by several names in the New Testament but the office is always the same. It is called elders, overseers, bishops, presbyters, shepherds and pastors.
The New Testament reveals that there were always a plurality of qualified elders (pastors) in a congregation and that the office of the elders did not oversee more than the one congregation where they assembled.
What then were the qualifications of these men who were responsible for caring for God’s people. They are spelled out in two places, 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. These passages point out what one must be to hold this office. They include: husband of one wife, with believing children. Therefore, it is obvious that a pastor can be neither single, childless or female.
Who then can be properly called a ”pastor” in accordance to Bible teaching? Those elders-bishops who are charged to shepherd (pastor) the flock of God. Those who meet all the qualifications spelled out by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, who watch over a congregation not alone but with at least one other who is also fully qualified.
Be careful who you call “pastor”. If God does not recognize a person as a pastor then why should you? And, if you do while God does not, does that not put your soul under the guidance of someone unqualified to care for your most prized possession, your eternal soul. Think about it!
James 4:13-15 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: (14) Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (15) For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
How many times during the day do you make plans to do something tomorrow? Or maybe yet, how many times do you make plans to do something a year from now, such as a vacation? Making plans is good. We should make some sort of plans for our future, especially if we ever plan on retiring. But the problem in making plans is most of the time; we leave the Lord out of it. We forget that the Lord has the final say over whether we are allowed to work out the plans we make. We need to remember that our life is very precious and our days are short.
We tend to take time for granted. Time is an element that has total control over our life. We are regulated by time. From birth to death, our entire life is controlled by time. Some peoples allotment of time may be only a few seconds, but others might live for one hundred years, which we tend to look at as a long time. But when we try to realize how long eternity will be, we cannot comprehend it. Eternity is not only something in the future, but it has reference to the past as well.
Psalms 90:2 “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”; Mic. 5:2“ God was before anything existed, and will continue to be forever. After death, we shall live eternally somewhere, it is our choice. Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. If we obey God, and do his commandments, we will live with him forever, worshipping him and giving him praise for all eternity. But if we do not obey him, if we neglect his word and his commands, we will reap the rewards that we have sowed, which is everlasting destruction. (2 Th. 1:8-9)
Now is the time that we need to make things right with God. We have time right now. We are not promised that we will take another breath. Once we are planted in the grave, we will be raised again, and receive our rewards. What will yours be?
Life holds many mysteries. As we begin to mature out of childhood, we are faced with many questions and although society and our families do their best to help us to understand the world we live in; we are often haunted with such questions as, where do I come from? Where am I going? As well as, how long do I have to be here? I think all of us, to some degree, have wondered deeply about such issues of life. Here is why I believe that we can trust the Bible to answer these questions for us.
I believe the Bible because it claims to be the inspired word of God, 2 Tim 3:16-17. That means literally, God breathed. God created the words of the Bible through men who wrote as they were divinely directed, 2 Pet 1:21. It is the word of God not of men, 1 Thess 2:13. John Wesley once said that the Bible was either created by good men or by bad men or by God. These are the only possibilities. Since the Bible claims repeatedly that it is inspired of God, good men could not have created it since good men would not have created a book full of lies. Neither could it be created by bad men because bad men would not have created a book which condemned every evil deed in which they were involved. Therefore, the Bible could only have been created by God. His logic is simple yet profound and I believe it is correct.
I believe the Bible because it has scientific foreknowledge. Long before science ever considered such things, the Bible stated that the earth rests upon nothing, Job 26:7, that the shape of the earth was a circle, Isa 40:22, that the winds always travel in a circuit or circle,Ecc 1:6, life is in the blood,Deu 12:23 and on and on.
I believe the Bible because of fulfilled prophecy. Over and over again inspired writers wrote accurately of coming events which were often hundreds of years in the future and often with amazing detail of those events. It is estimated that the Old Testament contains over 400 prophecies of the coming Messiah all fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
I believe the Bible because of the archaeological records which have repeatedly shown the Bible to be an accurate and reliable source of historical events.
And I believe the Bible because of the very existence of the Bible itself. It is such a unique and awesome document. It reads almost like poetry yet has such a complexity that it challenges the mind to comprehend it. It is a book which must be studied to be appreciated and the more we study the more we realize we are not looking into the mind of man but into the mind of God.
The Bible answers all of life’s questions. It teaches us right from wrong, that we came from God and will return to Him each in our own time. We will one day answer to God for the choices we’ve made and the deeds we have done. Mainly, the Bible teaches us that God through Jesus Christ has given us a way to be with Him eternally. It requires that we heed His word, obey His commands and be faithful to Him as long as we live. Yes, I believe the Bible, I hope you do too!!
We often hear the term “born again Christian” but what does it mean? With all the flavors of Christianity out there these days, it’s hard to know for sure. Then someone might ask and rightly so, if there are born again Christians then does that mean that some Christians are not “born again”? If you are confused on this subject then you are not alone. How can a person come to a proper understanding of all this? As with all other questions about truth in religion, we must turn to the truth itself, the Bible John 17:17.
There is much we can know about “born again” even though it is mentioned only 3 times in the KJV of the Bible. The American Standard Version uses the terms “born anew” and “begotten again”. The reason we can be so certain of it’s meaning is because Jesus Himself spells it out for us in His conversation with Nicodemus in John chapter 3. Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Nicodemus not understanding this statement responds by saying “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus answers “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Right away, like Nicodemus, we realize that Jesus is not speaking of natural birth. Nicodemus was right, a man cannot enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born. This we understand.
Jesus, however, points out that this new birth is not like natural birth but has two new components, yet at the same time is similar or comparable to natural birth. Jesus uses this type of teaching often in His ministry. It is His way of teaching a spiritual principle by comparing it to something earthly which we should fully understand. The new birth includes a birth of or from water and it also includes a birth of or from the spirit. It is vital that we realize that these two spiritual forms of rebirth are essential if we are to see the kingdom of God. Therefore, they are necessary to be saved or to become a Christian.
Being born again of water can only mean baptism. Baptism does indeed save us 1 Pet 3:21. An understanding of, being born again of the spirit, for most people would require a fairly lengthy study. That study would show that “the spirit” is the word of God Eph 6:17. The final rebirth, being born again of “the spirit”, is hearing and believing the gospel. This also is essential to salvation Heb 11:6; Rom 10:17.
We can be born again of the water and of the spirit when we hear and believe the Gospel and are baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins. When we have done this we are “born again Christians” and there is no other kind of Christian.
We can learn a lot from our kids. Just today, I was watching a show on TV about kids and the funny things that they do. It was a very funny show. One of the few family shows actually on now. After the credits ran, and the show was over, I realized that the show actually had more of an impact on me than just the laughter it produced while watching it.
One of the questions that the host asked the kids was “How do YOU think everything got here.” One kid said “There was a giant chicken that laid a giant egg and everything came from that.” Another said, “There was a big man somewhere other than here that made everything. He made everything with wood, or with metal.” One kid finally ended up saying “my mom thinks that monkeys were first then came man.” But I think that if I am not mistaken, only one kid said that God made everything. This made me realize something as my own kids were laying in the floor watching this show, as a majority, we are not teaching our kids anything about God. If you could pull a straight answer from them, without them trying to act funny, I know that my children know how everything began. May not understand fully how, I am not even for sure that any of us fully comprehend it. But through faith we know that God framed the worlds, and this was through Jesus Christ, (Heb 11:3, Joh 1:3). What seems like a very simple, elementary school question to me got a vast array of answers. How precious that faith is, when we can take the Word of God, and fully rely upon it. I have no doubt that in Gen 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” This is exactly what happened. When we think about all of the minute details that we take for granted of how EVERYTHING around works. Even scientists in all of their knowledge and experience do not fully understand the human body, God’s ultimate creation. When we think of the preciseness of just this planet, how everything runs just so, and has since the beginning. And by faith we realize that the earth is kept in store until the day of judgment (2 Pet. 3:7), and seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will continue. (Gen 8:22). This is so much different that we are hearing those around us talk today. It is so hot of a topic, that it is a major point of even our presidential election. If we would just listen to God’s Word, in all things, because His Word is truth (Joh 17:17).
The other question the host asked the kids was “If you had three wishes, what would you wish for.” Of course, some said money. One little girl said “I don’t need wishes, I get everything I want at home.” But the ones that really touched my heartstrings, if you will, was the one that said “I wish I had a daddy.” And another said “I wish that my family was back together”. Of course, I don’t know their situation, but I do know this. The family is another area of God’s Word that the world, as a whole, is not looking to for guidance in. We see the world, once again as a whole, going about telling those that “Whatever makes me happy is fine, I am the final authority in my happiness.” But do we think about the repercussion of our actions. Some of them are exactly what these kids were saying here. I believe that a generation has already come that has little, to no regard for God or His Holy Word. Are we teaching our children that fornication; any relations that are reserved for marriage between male and female only (Heb. 13:4); is a sin? And are we teaching them that such that practice sin will not inherit the kingdom of God? (Gal. 5:19). Fornication is not the only sin listed here, but fits this subject. Are we teaching our kids that marriage is for life? Are we teaching them that divorce is not an option in God’s eyes? Jesus only gave one exception to this rule, Mat 5:31-32 KJVR “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: (32) But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” We do well here to remember, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth.” (Joh 17:17). Will we here God’s voice, or will we continue listening to our own voice of reason, (Jer. 10:23).
Whether you believe in the existence of heaven and hell or not, you will have to admit that what lies beyond death is uncertain. No concrete, reliable account by anyone who has been there exists, as far as I know. In the absence of any factual evidence about life after death, that is as far as coming from any human source, it may seem that we are free to think and believe what ever we choose on the matter, after all no one really knows. So why not believe what we like? Many people in fact do feel exactly this way and it would be difficult to find fault in their approach to human mortality if it were not for one simple fact. That fact is the Bible.
The Bible is real and makes extraordinary claims. It offers a glimpse of life after death which challenges our imagination. It even claims to be a product of the same power and authority that created us and all of the universe around us.
Ultimately, each one of us will decide for ourselves how we will face death and whatever consequences that it brings. It may be that death is simply the end and nothing follows it, in which case we are all alike and no preparation of any kind will have any effect.
But what about the Bible? Can we simply discount it? Of course we can, as many certainly will. But is that a reasonable thing to do?
What it boils down to is this. If the Bible is true then we actually do face heaven or hell after death.
However, if the Bible is not true then no one really knows anything for sure and one opinion is a good as another.
It would seem entirely appropriate to at least consider whether or not the Bible is true. After all the mere thought of an eternity in heaven or hell is the most awesome thing that can be imagined. Obviously any reasonable person will want to test the Bible to see if it is true. The consequences of not doing so are just too great.
At this point it would seem that the Bible has passed one important test of truth. This would be that truth can not be ignored. The consequences of doing so are, again, just too great. One can not deal with the world around us based upon lies and misconceptions. It simply will not work. We must acknowledge and incorporate truth into our lives if we are to succeed and this principle applies to all aspects of our lives and also to our death it seems.
Another test of truth the Bible passes is its very existence. It claims that it will never pass away (Matt 24:35) and it is still with us today and shows no sign of going out of existence. In fact the Bible is the most widely published book of all times.
The best way for us to describe ourselves is simply to say that we are Christians (Acts 11:26). We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that through Him any person can be saved by obeying the Gospel. We have no tie to any religious denomination for we are simply a group of people who have joined together to follow Jesus Christ. Our aim is to be like the first Christians and the Church that you read about in the New Testament. By following the pattern of the Church as set forth in the New Testament we are the same thing that existed in the first century. Therefore, we are neither Protestant nor Catholic, but just Christians, as were those in the first century. Our work centers around the spiritual concerns of man to know God and turn from sin. We have no man made creeds, by-laws, nor do we belong to any conventions or associations. Our only guide is the Bible. We believe it to be God’s message to mankind. We teach and practice only what the Bible authorizes. Our desire is to lay aside the religious traditions of men and allow the Bible to govern us in all things (2 John 9).
Our goal is to please God and by using His Word this way we can be assured of His approval. The only thing we seek from you is an honest examination and investigation to see if we are proclaiming the true Gospel of Christ and that our practices harmonize with the Bible.
You may have questions about what you have observed, please feel free to ask any of us about anything you may not understand. An honest discussion will only benefit us all. We want to be right with our Creator and encourage others to be also.
Our goal is not to entertain but to offer praise, thanksgiving, and honor to our God. People need direction for their lives and the Bible has been given to us for that very reason.
Our aim is to have sermons that are true to the Bible, easy to understand, and relevant to everyday life. The sermons are not intended to soothe the conscience of people but their purpose is to glorify God and supply people with the spiritual guidance they need. We all must follow the examples of the early Christians by contending earnestly for The Faith which was Once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
When the pattern for the Church in the New Testament is followed, the same Church exists today. God never intended that there be more than one Church (Eph. 4:4-5). Men have made their own conditions of entrance into their own churches while the Lord has set forth His own terms of entrance into His Church (Matt. 16:18) Do you want to hear the truth or follow some popular movement? Friend, which church are you a member of? The one that Christ built, that wears Christ’s name and follows His doctrine or one that man has built, wearing some man’s name (Matt. 16:18).
Are you in the Church that Jesus built? Are you sure?
As I read the March 5th issue of this paper, I came across this statement on page 6B “Since God has promised to answer prayers which are according to his will, we can assume that the only thing holding back worldwide revival is the church’s failure to pray.” I would like to explain why this assumption is wrong.
Worldwide revival would be a wonderful thing. It certainly is possible and it is even God’s will according to 2 Peter 3:9. Therefore, God’s will is not the problem restricting worldwide revival nor is the problem that God has not made adequate provision for the salvation of mankind. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and completed that task according to John 17:4 which completed God’s part in the redemption of man and it cost God much, even the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. God’s part is finished.
Now here is the problem. It is mankind failing to complete his part in his own salvation. That man even has a part in his salvation is an unpopular notion. We hear statements like “Christ did it all” which imply as mere humans we can in no way assist Christ in His effort to save us. At most we hear from so many that all you have to do is believe. To do anything beyond believe would, as they say, mean that we are earning our salvation, which the Bible plainly teaches that we can not do Eph 2:9.
So then, did Christ do it all? Simple logic tells us that He did not, for if He had no one would be lost and worldwide revival would be unnecessary. Also, statements from the Bible like “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Phi 2:12, would make no sense.
All that Eph 2:9 is telling us is that the value of salvation is priceless and cannot be earned therefore it must be given to us from God. But God has placed certain conditions on our receiving that gift. This is His right. The gift of salvation will not be granted to anyone who does not have faith according to Heb 11:6 . There will be no atheists in heaven. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Rom 10:17. Those who refuse to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be found in heaven. Salvation will not be given to anyone who will allow sin to rule their life Rom 6:12. God requires repentance Acts 17:30. God will not give the gift of salvation to anyone who will not confess Jesus as the Son of God Rom 10:9-10. We cannot deny Jesus and go to heaven. And we cannot receive the gift of salvation without remission of our sins accomplished through baptism Mark 16:16. Baptism crucifies the old man of sin and raises us up a new creation, Rom 6, a Christian who then the Lord adds to the church Acts 2:47. At this point we are a babe in Christ, expected to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, 2 Pet 3:18, and if we are found faithful until death Jesus has promised us a crown of life Rev 2:10.
Worldwide revival will never happen and it has nothing to do with how much the church prays or does not pray. I know this because Jesus has plainly said so in Matt 7:14. There are only two reasons why so many will be lost. First, it is because they have not the love of the truth, 2 Thess 2:10, and second, because they obey not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ 2 Thess 1:8.
In order to do God’s will, one must first understand what His will is. The Apostle Paul said, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:17)
God has revealed His will in terms that all men could understand by reading and rightly dividing the Bible. The Bible is the most wonderful book in the world. It continues to be the world’s best seller. Yet is abused, misused, misunderstood and misrepresented more than any other book on earth.
Many people admit they have great difficulty in understanding it, while some declare it is utterly impossible to understand. However, Jesus commanded His Apostles to “Go and teach all nations.” (Mail. 28:19)
He also taught in (Matt 7:21) that one must do the will of God in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. His instructions to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were understood. (Gen. 3) Noah understood how to build the Ark, (Gen 6:13-22). Moses understood how to build the Tabernacle. God gave him a pattern and demanded that he follow it, (Ex. 25:40, Heb. 8:5). The Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation. (Romans 1:16)
There may be some things in the Bible that we may never fully understand but everyone should be able to understand the simple plan of salvation found in the book of Acts. First everyone must realize that it is absolutely necessary to know God’s will if we are to obey Him, and be saved.
We must know and practice the truth in order to have the saving faith and to give us a reason of our hope. (Rom. 10:17; 1 Peter 3:15)
We must have a love for the truth and receptive heart (honest), (James 1:21) We must be willing to do God’s will after we understand it, (Matt. 7:21) We must also study, that is give diligence, not merely read it, (2 Tim. 2:15, Acts 17:11) Most people fail this point.
The Church that Jesus built is not a human institution, but is unique and distinctive. The true Church has no human creed book to follow. It’s authority comes solely from the Word of God. We live in a “give away society” and many want something for nothing. Let us learn not to just swallow everything we hear because some preacher or church say, but “try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1)
Do you really know God’s will for mankind or are you just fitting in with the crowd? Most people are trusting in the words of some popular man and are not willing to search the scriptures to see whether these things are true or false. Disobedience occurs when man substitutes his way for God’s way.
Many people throughout the world are taking the true meaning out of context in Romans 9:9-10. These verses say, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Many people in this area believe all you have to do is just simply call upon the Lord and you will be saved. If these same people would open their Bibles and read the verses that precedes 9 and 10, they could see it takes more than just calling upon the Lord to be saved. In verse 14 “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
In order for one to call upon the Lord to become a Christian, he or she must comply with the plan of salvation that God has provided for all mankind. How can anyone call upon the name of the Lord and expect to be saved when he or she doesn’t even know God’s simple plan of salvation. People avoid reading the gospel for reasons like this: what about the thief on the cross? He was not baptized; yet the Lord saved him. One must keep in mind that the thief lived under the Old Testament. Prior to the death of Christ, the Old Testament was in force. After the death of Christ, a new law (Testament) became effective.
Peter taught that “everyone of you” must “repent and be baptized” in the name of Christ “for the remission of sins” (Act 2:38). Many people say, “I feel in my heart that I am saved,” and trust their feelings rather than the Word of God. One may “feel” saved, but until God pardons him he is still lost, yet in his sins and without a valid hope of going to Heaven.
Jesus said, “No man can come to Me except the Father that sent Me draw him” (John 6:4). How does God draw men unto Him? Read the next verse: “It is written in the prophets, and they shall all (everyone) be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto Me” (John 6:45). Sinners are taught of God by hearing the Gospel. Those who learn come to God because they are drawn. The Gospel of Christ is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). This verse plainly says one must be baptized in order to put on Christ, to become a New Testament Christian. How can anyone say that he or she was saved without water baptism after reading the above verse. The Bible plainly teaches one must hear the Gospel (Romans 10:17). One must believe the Gospel (John 20:31). One must repent of sins (Acts 17:30). One must confess that Jesus is the Christ (Romans 10:9). One must be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
Is your heart right with God? Have you obeyed God or are you following after the traditions of some man. Jesus said, “I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and robber” (John 10:1).
The story is told, from a very reliable source, about a Bible study group in a local denomination. They were studying from Matthew the 8th chapter and verse 22 which reads “But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” As none of the audience were able to explain the sense of the verse, it was left to the teacher of the class to give the meaning. When asked what it meant his reply was “Praise the Lord for verses like Matthew 8:22 read the next verse.”
Perhaps this verse is one that has given you cause for concern. How and why is it that Jesus is telling this man “let the dead bury the dead”? Can the dead indeed bury the dead? Is this possible? Apparently Jesus thought so or else He is asking the impossible. I do not believe Jesus asks the impossible from anyone therefore for the dead to bury its dead is possible but how?
To understand the proper meaning of what Jesus is saying here, we must correctly understand the Bible’s use of the word dead and how this differs from our use of this word. Our use of the word “dead” essentially means the end of the process of life. To die simply means to stop breathing permanently or for our hearts to stop beating. By this understanding of death the dead can in no wise bury their dead for one dead person is as helpless as another.
But consider Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” By our present use of the word die, this passage pronounces the judgment of death on Adam and Eve the very day that they eat of the forbidden fruit. As we all know, they did indeed eat of this fruit but did they die that day? By our use of the word they did not die that day. Did God lie to them or perhaps is there more to the use of the word death than our present usage? In fact, as we continue to study our Bibles we can come to understand that the Bible uses the word death to mean separation. It is not just an end of something, it is the separation of two things. Death as we understand it can now be understood as the separation of a body (which returns to the earth) and the spirit (which returns to God). Adam and Eve died on the day they ate of the forbidden fruit because they were separated from God, not because their spirits were separated from their bodies and the dead can bury their dead because those separated from God because of their own sin (Rom 6:23) can bury those who are dead because of separation of body and spirit. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 8:22 and this is how we can make sense of this passage.
Christians are under attack. This is nothing new really. Since Jesus came and established His kingdom on the earth around 2000 years ago His ideas, His kingdom the church, and His followers have been ridiculed, persecuted and even killed. There are many parts of the world even now where Christianity is illegal. However, in my 62 years on this earth I have never seen the open hostility and prejudice we are now viewing in the media and entertainment industries in this country that we are presently being exposed to. Growing up right after the end of world war II, I always felt a sense of respect from our leaders and all forms of the media for our faith in God and the Bible. This has certainly changed.
It is not at all uncommon, even in prime time TV, to hear statements which declare a belief in God as stupid, illogical and based upon blind faith as if it has somehow now been universally realized by the enlightened that there is nothing to religion. Also, when such statements are presented they generally come from those who could be described as the smartest and most accepted members of the cast, people who we otherwise like and respect. This of course gives the greatest possible weight to their argument. Three examples which come to mind are “House,” “Bones,” and “Crossing Jordan” however these are just a small sample . But are they correct in what they are saying or are such statements just the product of the liberal Hollywood agenda promoting liberalism and the belief that we have the right to do whatever we like because there is no absolute right or wrong?
I have been exposed, as I am sure many of you have, to both sides of this issue. It seems to boil down to “The Theory of Evolution” versus “The Bible”. Either everything came into existence by natural process or God is behind it all. Which is the most logical. Let us remember that the 150 year old “theory of evolution” is unproven and in effect cannot be proven as a fact. The Bible however is a collection of historical facts that have never been proven to be wrong. Even the factual existence of miracles is supported by eye witness accounts in the Bible and while we were not there to see for ourselves that they took place neither were we there to see that they did not. From my perspective the weight of the evidence heavily favors that God is real, the Bible is true and therefore it is far more logical to believe in God no matter how often Hollywood and its writers, directors, producers, and actors declare it not to be so. This is no small issue. The destiny of your eternal soul is at stake.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and Brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles. And all that believed were together and had all things common. And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.”
The above verses came from the book of Acts, Chapter 2, verses 36 through 47. How can anyone not understand what these verses are saying? These people are asking Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “What shall we do?” After these people repented and were baptized they were added to the Church. To refuse to be baptized is to reject the word of God (John 12:48).
Many people tend to think a person is saved before water baptism. How could anyone who believes the Bible even think that one can be saved without being baptized? God expects us to respect and obey His Word. People need direction for their lives and the Bible has been given to us for that very reason.
When men say, “I want to worship God in my own way,” it ceases to be the way of God. We do not go out and join the church of our choice. After one obeys the gospel (hears, believes, repents of sins, confesses that Jesus is the Christ and is baptized into Christ) he or she is added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47).
Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).
Divisions come because men lack enough faith in God to follow what He has revealed to us in the Bible. God expects us all to understand His word alike in order that we might be united in Christ.
Not everybody who grows old, grows up. There is a big difference between age and maturity. Ideally, the older we are, the more mature we should be but too often the ideal does not become what we see actually happen. The result is problems, problems in our personal lives, in our homes, and in our churches. Problems in these areas are caused by immaturity more than by anything else. If Christians would just grow up, they would become victors instead of victims.
The letter of James was written to help us understand and reach spiritual maturity. He says “that ye may be perfect(complete) and entire(whole), wanting nothing, Jas 1:4. Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs not only in churches but also in the world today. God is looking for mature men and women to carry on His work, however sometimes all He can find are little children who cannot even get along with each other! James wrote to meet this need, so his epistle is very relevant to our times today!
How can we get the most out of this letter? First, we must be “born again”. You’ve heard the term “born again christian”, well there’s no other kind. Apart from spiritual birth there can be no spiritual maturity. James writes with the assumption that his readers have been born again Jas 1:18. This “rebirth” is brought about by obedience to the Word of God 1 Pet 1:22-23. It involves being “born again of water and Spirit” John 3:5 understood to refer to baptism Mark 16:16, Titus 3:5. So to benefit the most from the book of James, we must have been born again through obedience to the truth, Acts 2:38-39.
Second, we must honestly examine ourselves in the light of God’s word. James compares the Word of God to a mirror, Jas 1:22. As we study the Word we are looking into the divine mirror and seeing ourselves as we really are. We must be honest about what we see and not merely glance at the image and walk away. Third, we must “obey” what God teaches no matter what the cost. We must be “doers” of the Word, and not “hearers” only. The “blessing” does not come in studying the Word, but in doing the Word, Jas 1:25. Fourth, we must be prepared for some extra trials and testing. Whenever we are serious about spiritual growth, the enemy gets serious about opposing us! However, if you wish to develop the patience that spiritual maturity brings, you should expect some trials, Jas 1:3, but in the end it will be worth it, Jas 1:12. Finally, we must measure our growth by the word of God. We should not measure ourselves by comparing ourselves to other Christians, 2 Cor 10:12, but to God’s word and to His Son.
Remember, not everyone who grows old, grows up. There is often a huge difference between age and maturity. Mature Christians are: happy Christians, despite the trials they face; useful Christians, overcoming the temptations that cross their path; Christians who help and encourage others and build their local churches.