The New Testament Church

It is estimated that there are more than 2,000 different religious groups in the United States. Yet, the New Testament speaks of only one church. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). What was this one church like? Does it exist today? If so, can we find it, and how? Let’s consider the following points.

First, the New Testament church was built according to a pattern. A pattern is something to be duplicated, or copied. Just as God provided a pattern for the ark of Noah’s day and the tabernacle of Moses’ day, he has provided a pattern for the church. Notice Paul’s words from Romans 6:17, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” Also notice from II Timothy 1:13, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

Second, the New Testament church was built according to prophecy. Joel prophesied that it would be built in the last days when the Spirit was poured out. Joel wrote, “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions; And also on my menservants and on My maid servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls” (Joel 2:28-32). Daniel prophesied that Christ’s kingdom, the church, would be built during the days of the Roman kings (Daniel 2:44). Isaiah also prophesied concerning the time when the church would be built. “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths, For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:1-4). We read in Acts 2:1-47 that all this came about, just as the prophets had prophesied. Notice Acts 2:16, where Peter speaks, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”

Third, the New Testament church was a part of God’s eternal purpose. Paul wrote, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11). Some, such as those who teach the doctrine of premillenialism, perceive the church to be an afterthought, a “Plan B” if you will, that was concocted after Jesus was rejected by the Jews. But this idea is contrary to what Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus.

Fourth, the New Testament church was built by Jesus Christ. Jesus promised, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus is the church’s foundation and chief cornerstone (I Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus shed his blood for the church. Notice Paul’s exhortation to the elders at Ephesus, recorded in Acts 20:28. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with His own blood.”

Fifth, the New Testament church had a specific organization. Jesus Christ is the head of the New Testament church (Ephesians 1:22-23). A plurality of elders, or pastors, are appointed to oversee local congregations (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5-7). They are required to meet specific qualifications (I Timothy 3:1-7). Deacons are to be appointed as servants of the church (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:8-13).

Sixth, the New Testament church had a specific pattern of worship. They met on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). They observed the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis (Acts 20:7). They worshipped in prayer (Acts 2:42). They sang praises to God (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16-17). This was done without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. The New Testament church was edified by the preaching of the gospel (II Timothy 4:2-4). Those persons who were members of the New Testament church gave of their means financially on the first day of every week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). This giving by the members of the church made it possible for the church to carry out its work.

Seventh, the New Testament church had a work to do. They had a responsibility to preach the gospel to the whole world. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20.) Also notice Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The church served as the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). The church had a role in helping to edify those who are saved (Ephesians 4:12). The church had a responsibility to help the needy, both those who were Christians and those who were not. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10.) Notice James’ words James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Eighth, the New Testament church was united. There were no different denominations, there was simply one church. Can you imagine Peter being a Catholic, Paul a Methodist, John a Presbyterian, James a Baptist, Mark a Lutheran, and, well, you get the idea. But the current situation of our day is no more acceptable to Christ than it would have been in the days of James, Paul, or Peter. The phrase “churches of Christ” in Romans 16:16 simply refers to individual congregations of the Lord’s church, not a variety of different denominations, each going by a different name and teaching a different doctrine. The Bible condemns the division that exists in the religious world today. Paul wrote, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you are perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, of I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (I Corinthians 1:10-13). Jesus prayed that all those who believed in him would be united. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me” (John 17:20-21). How were Jesus and the Father united? How were they one? By simply agreeing to disagree? By agreeing to recognize their doctrinal differences? Not hardly. They were one in their thought and in their teaching.

False teachers in the early church were marked. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

Ninth, the New Testament church maintained the divine standard of morality. Works of the flesh were condemned. Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Those who walked disorderly were withdrawn from. Paul wrote, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (II Thessalonians 3:6). To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” (I Corinthians 5:11).

Members of the New Testament church were known by their love for one another. “Now all who believe were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47).

Tenth, those who were in the New Testament church had a common hope. They realized they were “strangers and pilgrims on this earth” (I Peter 2:11). Their citizenship was in heaven. Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven, form which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Eleventh, the New Testament church had specific conditions of membership. Prior to becoming a member of the New Testament church, a person had to hear the gospel. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). He had to believe the gospel (Mark 16:16). He had to repent of his sins (Acts 2:38). He had to confess his belief that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32-33). A person became a member of the New Testament church when he, or she, was baptized into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13). This baptism we read about in the New Testament was an immersion in water (Romans 6:4-5). This baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It was through baptism that a person was placed into Christ, where all spiritual blessings are located (Ephesians 1:3). Paul wrote, “For you are all Sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

Twelfth, members of the New Testament church continued to have Christ as their Advocate, High Priest, and Mediator (I John 2:1-2; I Timothy 2:5). “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

What do we learn from all of this? In the Bible, we read of only one church. All those who were saved were members of that one church. Christ’s one church was built according to the pattern. In order for the New Testament church to exist today, we must adhere to the patter given in the New Testament.

Are You an Atheist?

Are you an atheist?  “Well, of course not,” you say.  “No way would I be an atheist! I know that God exists.”

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)  This verse is often used to teach that a person who does not believe in the existence of God is acting foolishly.  I couldn’t agree more!  A person who says there is no God is a fool.  But, is that really what Psalm 14:1 teaches?

If you read further into Psalm 14, you’ll notice the psalm describes the fool’s behavior; he is corrupt, he has done abominable works, there is none that doeth good, they are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy.   Also notice that reading Psalm 14:1 from the King James Version, the words “there is” are in italics.   This italics indicates these words were not a part of the original text but were inserted by the translators to help convey the meaning of the text.  Without these words, Psalm 14:1 would read, “The fool hath said in his heart, no God.”  Is the fool in Psalm 14 one who denies the existence of God?  Or is he one who, in rebellion, lives as if there is no God?  Is his conduct such that it fails to convey his belief in God to others?

Let’s look at three passages where men believed in the existence of God, but acted like atheists.  First, from the book of Exodus, chapter 14.  When the Pharaoh found out that God’s people were fleeing from Egypt, his heart was turned against God and he decided to pursue God’s people.  When the children of Israel saw the Pharaoh and his army coming after them, they became very afraid the – KJV says they were sore afraid.  They thought they simply had no way out – no way of escape.  Their backs were to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was quickly drawing closer to them.  They began to chastise Moses – “Why didn’t we stay in Egypt?  Why did you take us out here just to die in the wilderness?  Were there no graves in Egypt?” 

Now notices Moses’ response from Exodus 14:13-14 – “13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

What was wrong with their thinking? They wondered why Moses took them to where they were, yet they were exactly where God had led them.  They thought the Red Sea was an insurmountable object, yet God led them right through it.  They saw nothing in store for them but death and defeat.  Oh, they believed in the existence of God.  But they were acting as if God was unaware and uncaring about their situation.  They had no faith that God would deliver them through their hardship.  There were acting like atheists.

Keep reading and you’ll find out that God parted the sea, allowing His people to cross on dry ground.  When the Egyptians followed after them, God brought the waters together again, overthrowing the Egyptians in the sea.

Sometimes, life can throw us a curve.  It may be financial struggles, health problems, marital problems, or difficulties with our jobs.  You and I can experience such hardship that we see no way out.  We feel hopeless and helpless.  We still believe that God exists, but we forget that He is always there to carry us through life’s struggles.  You might say we become practical atheists.  Oh sure, we believe God exists, but we act as if there is no God.  But remember, God may not take you around your Red Sea, but He will part it for you and carry you through it.

Next, consider Matthew 6:25-33 – “25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

In verse 24, Jesus said that no man can serve two masters; he will hate the one, and love the other.  He went on to say “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  The word mammon refers to material gain or financial profit.  Among Jesus’ audience there must have been some who placed unnecessary thought on the things of this world.  Jesus assured them that God would take care of them, just as He cares for the fowl of the air.

If we’re not careful, we can take on this same attitude today.  We can become overly concerned with the things of this world.  We take on a desire for material gain because of our concern over meeting our simplest needs. Someone stays up late at night, unable to sleep because they are worried about making a living.  With prices going up the way they are, how will the bills be paid?  Have you been to the grocery store lately?  Prices are out of sight!  How will I be able to keep food on the table?  Then there’s the unexpected visit to the hospital, doctor or dentist.  How am I supposed to make ends meet?

Sometimes we forget that God is there the whole time, taking care of us. We believe God exists, but we act as if He doesn’t – we act like atheists. 

Next, let’s look at James 4:13-17 – “13 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 vapour, 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. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

James wrote about a man who had big plans.  This man was going to start a business venture and, over the coming year, make a big profit.  But this man needed to be reminded that his life was a vapor that was here for a short while and then vanishes away. Sadly, in his boastings, the man left God out of his plans.  He should have been saying, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”  James describes this attitude – boasting of the future and leaving God out of our plans, as evil.  It reminds me of Proverbs 27:1 – “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Now notice verse 17, Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  I have often heard this verse used to teach that there are sins of omission.  That is, we sin not only by the things we do; we can also sin by the things we do not do.  While this may be true, I don’t believe this is what this verse is teaching.

The ESV translates James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  I believe this conveys the meaning of James 4:17 more clearly.  If boasting of our plans, while leaving God out of our plans, is evil, then the “good” of verse 17 would be to include God in our plans.

Sometimes we can make great plans for our future, but leave God out of our plans.  When it comes to planning our future, we believe God exists but sometimes act as if He doesn’t.  We act like atheists!

Although we believe God exists, we act like He doesn’t when (1) we forget that he will help us through the struggles of life, (2) when we forget that He will provide all of life’s needs (3) when we forget to include God in our plans.

Now do you understand why I began by asking the question, “Are you an atheist?”

If you say, “of course not!  I’m not an atheist, then make sure you don’t act like one.

A Look Back at Pride Month

Pride Month is celebrated annually in June in honor of the Stonewall Riots.  The riots, lasting for a period of six days, took place at the Stonewall Inn, in New York, and were a violent response to police raids of gay and lesbian bars.  Many historians state that it was the real beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. Stonewall Inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, was made a landmark by New York City in 2015, and was declared a National Monument by the National Park Service in 2016.

The federal government first recognized June as Pride Month in 1999 when President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” In 2009, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. On 1 June 2021, President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ Pride Month.

June 2021, designated “Pride Month,” by many, has come and gone.  Consider just some of the things that took place this last month.

The National Park Service chose to honor those in the LGBTQ+ community, stating “The rich histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Americans are pivotal in telling a more complete history of the United States.”

The National Football League produced a video declaring that football is gay.  The thirty second video declares their support for the gay community.

Kellogg” s released its “Together With Pride” cereal, resembling heart shaped fruit loops with edible glitter.  One of the cereal characters is waving the pride flag.

Mattel has produced a set of Uno playing cards called the “Play With Pride Edition.”  The cards have a rainbow design that celebrates the LGBTQ community.  The cards are advertised for players seven years old and up.

Apple has produced a line of watches featuring faces with rainbow colors.

Lego, makers of toy building blocks for young people, has produced a set called “Everyone is Awesome.”  It features eleven colors inspired by the rainbow flag.

What was once recognized as sin is now considered by many to be an acceptable lifestyle.  The media now recognize the homosexual lifestyle as a valuable contribution to diversity.  Even many of those in the religious world are now recognizing same sex marriages.  Some even allow homosexuals to serve as “pastors.”

With all of this in mind, let’s see what the scriptures have to say about homosexuality.

From the Patriarchal Period.  Genesis 19:1-11 “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.  When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.  And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.  And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.  But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house.  Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.  Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.  And they called to Lot and said to him,  “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.  So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!  See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.  And they said, “Stand back!”  Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.”  So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.  But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.  And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.”

While some try to make the men of Sodom guilty of nothing more than inhospitality, the objective, unbiased reader of the Bible is forced to conclude that God destroyed the men of Sodom on account of their sinful practice of homosexuality.  It is noteworthy that when Lot urged the Sodomites not to do “so wickedly” he was accused of being judgmental.

From the Mosaic Period. Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

From the New Testament. Romans 1:26-32 “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;  who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Notice from this text that not only is God displeased with those who engage in homosexual behavior, he is equally displeased with those who support such behavior.

Also consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 –  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

It is often said that “God made them that way. They were born homosexuals.”  Not true! Homosexuality is a learned behavior. Consider Genesis 18:25 along with Leviticus 20:13.

Genesis 18:25 – “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

Question: Would God make someone a homosexual from the time of his birth and then require him to be put to death because he was made that way?

It is true that someone may have certain dispositions toward homosexual behavior.  (Example: as a result of childhood sexual trauma, inadequate parental relationships or permissive training as a child).  However, that is entirely different from saying someone was born a homosexual. No one is born a homosexual and none of these dispositions change the fact that homosexuality is sinful.

As Christians, what should we do about the issue of homosexuality?

First, don’t compromise. More and more, homosexual activists demand complete and total acceptance of their lifestyle.  If a person refuses to accept the homosexual lifestyle he is labeled as a homophobe, mean spirited, unloving, hateful or bigoted. Yet, I refuse to accept the homosexual lifestyle. We need to remember Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:10-11 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  We need courage to speak where the Bible speaks.

Second, reach out to homosexuals with the gospel.   They need to be made welcome to hear what God says about homosexuality.  They need to know that God loves them and has shed His blood for them, just as He shed His blood for everyone else.

Third, we need to understand and teach that homosexuals can change.  Just as homosexuality is a learned behavior, homosexuals can also learn a better behavior.  Can a homosexual be saved from his, or her, sins?  Of course!  Notice the following from I Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  Many of those who previously practiced homosexuality had now changed!  They separated themselves from this sin and were washed of their sin. 

The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse man of any and every sin he has committed.  But no one can be saved from his sin as long as he persists in his sin and refuses to repent.

The Lord Will Fight For You!

The book of Exodus begins with God’s people, the Israelites, in Egyptian bondage. God heard his people’s cries of despair and called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of their bondage. Of course, the Pharaoh refused to let the people go. However, after the plagues, the Pharaoh eventually let the people go. After doing so, the Pharaoh had a change of heart and pursued the Israelites. Let’s consider several points from Exodus 14:10-31).

First, consider the people’s restlessness (14:10-12). As the Israelites were against the Red Sea, they saw the Egyptians approaching. Feeling trapped, they had an “I told you so attitude.” They forgot that God was in control.

Next, consider Moses’ reprimand (14:13-14). Moses commanded the people to fear not and stand still. Moses assured the people that the Lord would fight for them. When we are experiencing the trials and difficulties of this life, we need to remember that we do not have to endure our trials alone! God is on our side (Philippians 4:13).

Third, consider God’s reassurance (14:15-18). God assured Moses that, while the Israelites would be able to cross on dry land, their enemies would be defeated (I Corinthians 10:1-11).

Fourth, consider the people’s rescue (14:19-22). It is significant that God did not lead his people around their obstacle, but through it. Perhaps when we are praying for God to remove certain difficulties from our lives, we ought to be praying for the strength to endure those difficulties (James 1:2-4).

Fifth, consider the enemies’ resourcefulness (14:23-25). Despite having experienced the plagues and witnessing God’s power first hand, Pharaoh and his army refused to give up! Pharaoh is a tragic example of one whose pride and worldliness prohibited him from yielding to God’s will. Likewise, Satan is persistent in his pursuit of God’s people (I Peter 5:8). When we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7). But we can be sure he will be back if we give him opportunity.

Sixth, consider the recognition of God (14:26-31). When the children of Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore, they feared God and believed Moses. When the sea overcame the Egyptians, they also believed. Unfortunately, for them it was too late.

What is the “Red Sea” in your life?  Whatever difficulty you are trying to conquer, stand still and let the Lord fight for you!

Don’t Let Your Roots Grow Too Deep!

Imagine someone who has lived in several towns, perhaps even countries, over a period of only a few years.  Maybe he, or she, was in the military and was stationed at a number of different bases in various parts of the world.  Perhaps their job required them to be transferred to different cities.  Whatever the reason for their frequent moves, they look forward to the time when they can “put down roots.”  You’re familiar with that phrase, aren’t you?  To “put down roots” simply means to move to a place where you want to live and settle down.  You make new friends and become involved in new activities there so that it starts to feel like home. 

Does that sound like a good idea to you?  It can be.  But I would add this one caution: don’t allow your roots to grow too deep, for you will not be here very long!

Too often we spend our time and effort focusing on this life, yet failing to fully prepare for the life to come.  We forget that we are merely pilgrims on this earth. I Peter 2:11. We are no more than sojourners, passing through this life for a brief time. James 4:14. Our conversation is in heaven.  Philippians 3:20. No wonder we sing the song, “This World in Not My Home, I’m Just Passing Through.”

Don’t let your roots grow too deep.  Someday, it will be time to pull them up and move on!

Guess What the Doctor Saw!

I recently had a heart cath.  Doctors use this procedure to exam how well your heart is working.  A catheter is inserted into a large artery (in my case, the radial artery at the wrist).  Contrast dye is then injected into the heart, in effect, creating a “movie x-ray.”  The doctor uses these images to look for blockages in the arteries.  Although I was awake and able to talk to the doctor and look at these images on the screen, I had no idea how to interpret those images.  Thankfully, the doctor did! 

As I was watching the screen and talking to the doctor during the procedure I wondered, “What does God see when He looks at my heart” (Acts 1:24)?  Does He see a heart that trusts in Him (Palm 28:7)?  Does He see a heart where His word is hidden (Psalm 119:11)?  Does He see a heart that is pure (Matthew 5:8)?  Does He see a heart from whence evil thoughts come (Matthew 15:19)?  Does He see a heart that is forgiving (Matthew 18:35)?  Does He see a heart that loves Him completely (Matthew 22:37)?  Does He see a heart that is troubled and filled with anxiety (John 14:1)?  Does He see a heart that is sensitive and touched by sin (Acts 2:37)?  Or does He see a heart that is hardened and insensitive to sin (Mark 10:5)?  Does He see a heart where Christ dwells (Ephesians 3:17)?  Does He see a heart that strives to do His will (Ephesians 6:6)?  Does He see a heart where the peace of God rules (Colossians 3:15)?

What does God see when He looks at YOUR heart?  It’s something to think about!

Electronic Worship

The following article, “Electronic Church” was written by Wayne Jackson.  It is an excellent article that stresses the importance of assembling together to worship as well as the dangers of the “electronic church.” It is especially appropriate at a time when far too many elders, preachers, and other influential “church leaders” have seen fit to cancel the times of assembling together and opted instead to “assemble for worship” through the use of social media. As Christians, we are commanded to assemble on a regular, weekly basis.  The Greek word translated “assembling” in Hebrews 10:25 means “a gathering together into one place.” Social media does not, cannot, satisfy the command to assemble.  While there are those who undoubtedly have health issues that warrant their foregoing assembling together, there are far too many who will justify canceling services of the church while they shop in crowded stores, send their children to crowded schools, and forego “social distancing” to sit at restaurants across from one another without wearing masks.  Such inconsistency!  Is it too risky to assemble to conduct Bible classes, but not too risky for these other activities? What example does this set for others? Does this not present a stumbling block for others? How will others in our community view the church when we they see us cancel Bible classes but gather in public places to eat?   It is my concern that, as a result of the acceptance of worship through the use of social media, many Christians will eventually quit assembling altogether.  I honestly hope time proves me wrong!

Christians, assemble! Parents, see that your children are in Bible classes! And yes, of course, teach them throughout the week. Make your religion a “daily” religion! As Christians, may we ever learn to act out of faith and never act out of fear.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Electronic Church

By Wayne Jackson

In recent months numerous articles have focused attention upon the phenomenal value of the World-Wide Web as an evangelistic tool. A recent issue of the popular denominational journal, Christianity Today, was devoted entirely to this medium of communication as it relates to religious information. Twenty percent of those who use the Internet do so for religious purposes. During the final quarter of last year, twenty million people accessed various web sites seeking metaphysical data. Two million Americans visit the Web every day for spiritual guidance. Surely Christians should see the value in teaching the gospel of Christ via this increasingly popular medium.

At the same time, there are dangerous pitfalls associated with the Web.

An Avenue for Error

There is a vast range of false teaching that clutters the World-Wide Web. Everything from Eastern mysticism, to religious agnosticism, to sectarianized “Christianity” is available. They can be invited right into your home – with but the click of a “mouse.” Some sites are very professionally done and therefore, are slick avenues for promoting error to the unsuspecting.

The Web also accommodates a wide variety of “church nuts,” providing them with an opportunity to peddle their wares, when they could never secure an audience otherwise. Anyone with the right kind of technical skill can get a web site going, whether or not they know anything at all about the Bible. In the minds of some, their very presence, via such a sophisticated medium, legitimizes their endeavor. This is a part of the “price tag” for “freedom of the press.”

Unfortunately, some Christians, unwittingly or otherwise, assist with the propagation of error by their “links” network. Some web sites, operated by members of the church, have elaborate link connections to other sites. And yet, virtually every link directs the viewer to a denominational source – some of which are rank with false teaching. Apparently, there is not a solitary Christian web site worthy of their recommendation. What message does that convey? A revealing one for those who consider the matter thoughtfully.

A Substitute for Corporate Worship

A news service recently quoted Brenda E. Brasher, a theology-philosophy professor, and author of the book, Give Me That Online Religion, who says that, “One of the best-kept secrets of cyberspace is the surprising amount of religious practice that takes place there.” Brasher has found more than a million religion-oriented web sites, with many of them virtually functioning as temples and churches.

For many people, sitting in front of a computer and accessing a religious web site, has become a spiritual exercise that fulfills their need for a worshipping experience. A new study by the Barna Research Group suggests that “by the end of the decade, we will have in excess of 10 percent of our population who rely upon the Internet for their entire spiritual experience” (emp. added).

For a long time anemic Christians have rationalized their slothful religious devotion by appealing to the use of various media or electronic devices. Some churches, for example, broadcast their Sunday morning services; a few perfectly-healthy, though lazy, members rationalize remaining at home on the ground that “we can tune-in the services on the radio.” Many a preacher has heard this line during a gospel meeting: “We can’t be at the meeting on Friday evening; we’re having a family outing. But we’ll get the tape!”

As wonderful as the new tools for electronic evangelism are, they can never function as a substitute for assembling with the people of God at the prescribed times for engaging in corporate worship. There are Bible commands and principles that obligate us to “come together” when we are able to do so, and no “flip of a switch” can satisfy those demands upon able-bodied people.

Jackson, Wayne. “Electronic Church.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: August 21, 2020. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/364-electronic-church

Will You Always Be Faithful?

bible-998150_960_720Will you still be living faithfully to God ten years from now?  How about five years?  How about this time next year?  “Well, of course,” you say, “I’ll always be faithful!  I would never leave God.”    I’m glad you feel that way.  But remember, there are many who have become unfaithful who, at one time, probably expressed that very same sentiment.

Why should a Christian remain faithful?  It seems like a simple question.  But I think it’s still a fair question to ask.

First, I should remain faithful to God so that Christ will not have died in vain.  It was a great act of love on God’s part to give His son so that we may enjoy eternal life (John 3:16).  Jesus’ submitting to His Father’s will and experiencing the death of the cross was the greatest act of love any man could do for another (John 15:13).

Yet if, after becoming a Christian, I later become unfaithful, Christ will have died in vain; at least from my perspective.  Some would deny the clear and plain Bible teaching concerning the possibility of a Christian falling away and going back to a state of being lost in his/her sins.  But not the apostle Paul!  He understood the possibility of being a “castaway,” rejected or disqualified concerning the race he so strongly encouraged others to run (I Corinthians 9:24-27).  Peter understood the possibility of, after being converted to Christ, falling back into the world and being lost (II Peter 2:20-22).

If I refuse to remain faithful to Christ and His church, His death will profit me nothing!

Second, I should remain faithful to God so I can have the very best life on this earth!  In Mark 10:17-22 we read about Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler.  When Jesus told him to sell what he had and give to the poor, the young man, unwilling to part with his possessions, went away sorrowful.  Peter then responded, “Lord, we have left all, and have followed thee” (Mark 10:28).  From Matthew’s account of this incident, we know Peter is asking, “Lord, we left all to follow thee.  What shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27) Notice Jesus’ response.  “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

Shall I take Jesus’ words literally?  Is Jesus really teaching that anyone who follows Him will own a hundred houses?  Surely not!  What then, is Jesus saying?  Notice the last part of verse 30, “and in the world to come, eternal life.” The blessings Jesus promised to Peter, and us today, were distinct from the blessing we will eventually enjoy in heaven – eternal life! I believe the point Jesus is making to Peter is simply this: Whatever anyone may give up to become a Christian will pale in comparison to the blessings of being a Christian – even while living here on earth! Live this life with heaven as your goal.  While here on earth, stay focused in heaven!  But never forget that the best life anyone could ever live here on this earth is the life of a Christian!

Third, I should remain faithful because of my influence.  Influence can be defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something.”  Someone may say, “Not me.  I’m not going to have an influence on anyone.  I’ll just live my life and let everyone else live theirs!”

Solomon allowed his wives to have an evil influence on him, causing him to turn his heart away from the one true God and instead follow after false gods.  I Kings 11:4.

In contrast, Timothy was influenced for the good by his mother and grandmother.  Timothy knew the scriptures from the time he was a child.  II Timothy 3:15. How did Timothy come to know the scriptures?  No doubt he had been taught by his mother and grandmother.  II Timothy 1:5. Our influence continues even after we are gone!  Hebrews 11:4

Friends, it’s not possible to live without having an influence on others!  Others, maybe your family, friends, or even coworkers, are watching you.  They need you to remain faithful!  They need your positive influence.

Fourth, I should remain faithful because there is a judgement to come.  There is a day coming when I will be judged by Christ for the things I have done, whether they be good or bad.  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”  II Corinthians 5:10. Notice the word “must.”  This is an absolute imperative.  We cannot forego, or escape, the judgment.  Notice the words “we must all.”  No one will be exempt from being judged. Notice the words, “the judgment seat of Christ.”  We will be judged by God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Christ is well suited to be our judge because He lived on this earth, faced the same temptations we face and knows what it is like to experience the difficulties of this life.  Notice the words, “whether it be good or bad.”  When judgment day comes, some will be able to hear the words, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” They will be able to experience an eternity with God in heaven.  Sadly, others will experience an eternity separated from God and all His people.

Why should you be faithful?  It’s a fair question to ask.

The Problem of Prejudice

bible-998150_960_720Prejudice can be defined as “unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.”

A few things about prejudice are worth mentioning: First, no particular race, or ethnic group, has a monopoly on being prejudice.  It is possible for someone from any race, country or ethnic group to be prejudice.  Second, prejudice does not always involve race.  It is often the case that one person is prejudiced toward another because of his (or her) race. But a person may be prejudiced toward another person because of his education, or lack thereof.  Someone may be prejudiced toward others because of their financial status, or lack thereof.  Other causes of prejudice may be a person’s appearance or prejudice toward another person simply because of where they come from.  Prejudice can take on many forms!  Third, prejudice toward others is always a sin.  James wrote, “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9) Fourth, sadly prejudice often exists among those who profess to follow Christ!

We all realize the problem exists.  The question all of us should be asking is, “What’s the solution?  How can the problem of prejudice be corrected?”  A number of answers have been proposed – rallies and protests, police reform, income equality, free college for everyone, reparations toward those who have been wronged, etc.

None of these things will eliminate the problem of prejudice!  The problem of prejudice is a problem of the heart.  Prejudice will never go away until men’s hearts are changed.  The problem of prejudice will never be remedied until men recognize God as their Creator and Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The problem of prejudice will never be remedied until men strive to do God’s will and follow Christ’s example for living.  Can you imagine the good that could be realized if everyone of us took to heart Paul’s admonition to Timothy – “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” (I Timothy 5:21)

What Does Going to a Garden Party Have to Do With Living a Life That Is Pleasing to God?

tone armGood question!  How could an old song about going to a garden party make me think of the importance of living a life that is pleasing to God?  It’s really not as odd as you might think,  To find out, listen to the audio below!

Living Certain in an Uncertain World

Sleepless Young Man

Seems like I’ve been hearing the phrase “We are living in uncertain times” a lot lately.  Folks, ever since Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and Eve was formed from one of his ribs, people have always been living in uncertain times.  The word “certain” can be defined as “free from doubt, confident, sure.”  Synonyms that come to mind include “unquestionable” or “indisputable.”  When, in the history of man, could a man be certain he would live a long life?  At what point in the history of the world could a man be certain he would always enjoy good health?  Could a man ever be certain his standard of living would always match, or surpass, his previous standard of living?  Could a man ever be certain the value of his investments would always increase and be sufficient when he hoped to retire?  When could we be certain our country would be safe from enemy attack?

Friends, we have always lived in uncertain times!  But, before you start to wring your hands in despair, can I remind you of some things of which I am certain?  First, I am certain God created me and loves me. Some would have you believe you are here as a result of the process of evolution.  Such foolish nonsense! The epitome of ignorance! To borrow a phrase from the late Curtis Cates – “that’s hyper-stupid!”  David wrote, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14) My physical body stands as a witness to the creative powers of God!  Because I am a product of God’s handiwork, I know He loves me and cares for me.  Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Second, I am certain there is a Savior who loved me enough to die for me!  I have sinned.  There is nothing I can ever do to remove sin from my life apart from the blood of Jesus Christ!  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) Because of Christ’s sacrificial love, I am certain I can be forgiven and live this life (as uncertain as it may be) with the hope of an eternity in heaven.

Third, I am certain this world is not my home.  Paul described my earthly, physical body as a tabernacle (II Corinthians 5:1-4).  My physical body can be compared to a tent – temporary, a place where my spirit dwells for a short while until I am clothed with my immortal body (II Corinthians 5:2).  I am merely a pilgrim on this earth (Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11).  One day, this sinful world in which I now live will come to an end (Hebrews 1:10-12).

Fourth, I am certain that life is good.  Sure, life on this earth has it troubles.  I would not be so foolish to deny that!  Jesus said “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) But I am certain that life is still good!  Life is good because I’m a Christian!  I enjoy greater blessings than money can ever buy – I experience the joy of my salvation.  I understand that the troubles of this world are temporary and pale in comparison to the glory of heaven (II Corinthians 4:16-18).

Fifth, I am certain an eternal hell awaits the unrighteous (II Thessalonians 1:8) and an eternal heaven awaits those who keep the faith – those who fight the good fight and finish their course (II Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 22:1-5).

I’m aware of how the headlines read.  I know what the “talking heads” are saying on tv.  But I also know I can live certain in an uncertain world!

Denominations Are a Product of Men, Not God

cropped-bible-medium2.jpgThis past week I read an article written by a minister of a well-known denomination.  The first statement of the article read as follows, “When the church age began during the Lord’s earthly ministry, there was only the church Jesus built.”  Questions for the minister who wrote the article, and all of us, to consider include, “Does the one church Jesus built exist today?  If Jesus only built one church, why are there so many churches today?  Who made the change?  If Jesus only built one church, who built these other churches? And does any of this really matter?”

A denomination can be defined as “a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name, usually organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.” Friends, I must say with all kindness yet with all truthfulness to God’s word, denominationalism is completely incompatible with and foreign to the scriptures.  Notice the following from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) Men may accept, even applaud, the division that exists in the religious world today, but God never has and never will.

Denominations are of human origin.  In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Jesus said He would build His church, singular.  All denominations exist without New Testament authority, New Testament example or Christ’s approval.

Why does any of this really matter? The inspired apostle Paul taught that Christ’s church and Christ’s body are one and the same.  (Ephesians 1:22-23) He went on to teach that there is only one body, therefore there must be only one church. (Ephesians 4:4) Later in his same letter to the church at Ephesus he taught that Christ is the savior of the body.  (Ephesians 5:23) What can we conclude from all this?  Christ is the savior of the one church that He built!

Peter told those present on the Day of Pentecost to “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.” (Acts 2:38) When these people were saved by believing the gospel, repenting of their sins, confessing their faith in Jesus Christ and being baptized to receive the forgiveness of their sins, how did the Lord respond?  He added them to the one church that He built.  (Acts 2:47) He did not add them to a denomination, for there were no denominations in existence!

The church that Jesus built still exists today, just as it did in the first century.  It has no earthly head.  It has no legal hierarchy.  It follows no manmade creeds, practices, manuals or handbooks. It simply follows the New Testament pattern for the church.  Its congregations are autonomous and are overseen by elders who have authority only over their particular congregation. (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5; I Peter 5:1-3) Its members meet on the first day of every week to worship, including partaking of the communion. (Acts 20:7) Its members worship God through acapella singing, just as the early church of the first century did.  (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) Its members pray and study the Bible together. (Acts 2:42) Its members hear preaching together and give financially on the first day of the week. (I Corinthians 16:1-2)

Can a person be saved from his sins today and be a member of Christ’s one church without being a member of any denomination?  Yes!  He not only can, he must in order to please God.  How can a person do this?  He must believe the good news, or gospel, concerning Jesus Christ.  (John 3:16) He must repent of his sins (Acts 17:30-31) He must confess his faith in Jesus Christ.  (Acts 8:37) He must then be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins.  (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16) When he does this, the Lord will add him to the one church that he, Jesus Christ, purchased with his blood.  (Acts 2:47; Acts 20:28)

Friends, it is not my intention to be unkind.  Rather, it is my desire to expose the clear teaching of the scriptures concerning Christ and His church. Search the scriptures and see whether these things are so! (Acts 17:11)

“The churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:16)

Can Blood Transfusions Extend Life?

imgbin-blood-donation-blood-transfusion-human-body-blood-bank-blood-red-blood-drop-vB0gVuMyQXZCvY5WPUscLhpJxI came across an article recently discussing bizarre ways tech billionaires are attempting to reverse the aging process and live forever.  More than one company is conducting research to determine if blood transfusions from younger people can extend life.  According to some experts, transfusing blood from young, healthy people – specifically those between ages 16 and 25 – into those who feel that they’re getting on in years could reverse aging.

I’m no expert in the medical field; far from it.  But I am expert enough to know that eternal life is made possible by blood. No, I’m not talking about the blood from a younger person.  Eternal life is made possible only by the blood of Christ.  The really great news is that you don’t have to be a tech billionaire to benefit from this blood!

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17)

Why Worship God?

cropped-bible-medium3.jpgOur English word “worship” is often translated from two words meaning “toward” and “kiss” (or “kiss toward”).  In certain cultures, it was a common practice to prostate oneself before another and kiss his feet, the hem of his garment, or the ground.  This was especially done by the Persians to express reverence toward their deified kings or by the Greeks to honor their idols.

Our common English word “worship” has its origin in an old English word meaning “worth-ship.”  This indicates the worth, or value, of the one being worshipped.  God is worthy, or deserving, of our worship because of who he is and what he has done.

As Peter was coming into Cornelius’ house, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.  Peter then responded, “Stand up; I myself am also a man” (Acts 10:25-26).  God, in comparison, desires that we worship him (John 4:23).  Why the difference?  What do we worship God, and not man?

First, we worship God because he is our creator.  Where did we come from?  How did we get here?  Yet the answer is very simple – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  Later, in that same chapter we read – “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27).    It only makes sense that the creation worships the creator.

Second, we worship God because he is our provider.  Every physical blessing that we enjoy comes to us from God. James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).  God has not only blessed us physically but, more importantly, he has provided us with every spiritual blessing.  Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3).  God is truly the fount of very blessing!

Third, we worship God because he is our savior.   The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  God loves us so much he was willing to gave his sin as the only sacrifice that could remove sin from our lives (John 3:16).  Those in the church have been purchased, or bought back from their bondage of sin, with nothing less than the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28).

God is seeking those who will worship him.  Are you seeking opportunities to worship God?

To listen to thoughts on “Why Worship God” click here:

Hang in There, the Game’s Not Over Yet!

Football-Field-Artificial-Sports-Turf-12-1024x680On September 16, 2018 Buffalo Bills defensive back Vontae Davis shocked his team and sports fans when he retired during halftime of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He later issued a statement confirming his abrupt decision to retire. “This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” the 10-year veteran said, adding that he meant no disrespect to his teammates and coaches.  “I’ve endured multiple surgeries and played through many different injuries throughout my career and, over the last few weeks, this was the latest physical challenge,” he continued. “But today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore.”

Is there a spiritual application to be made from Vontae Davis’ experience? There most certainly is!  Christians often experience more than their fair share of bumps, bruises and hits on life’s playing field.  Perhaps, like Vontae, we are tempted to think we shouldn’t be out here anymore.  “It’s just not worth the effort,” some may say.

Not so!  Sure, no one can deny that life can be difficult.  Like everyone else, Christians may become weary.  But hang in there!  Any hardships in this life will compare in comparison to the blessings of heaven.  The apostle Paul understood what it meant to experiences life’s difficulties, yet he wrote, “16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” (II Corinthians 4:17).

I hope everyone of you will keep the faith, endure to the end and one day experience heaven!

With Whom Are You Walking?

walking-hiking-stickman-stick-figure-matchstick-manDo you realize your friends will help determine where you spend eternity?  It’s true!  Your friends can help strengthen your faith!  But they can also help weaken your faith!  Consider these words from Proverbs 13:20 – “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (ESV).  Your friends have a definite influence on your character.  If you want to be wise, establish friendships with wise people.  If you want to be a fool, establish friendships with foolish people.

This thought is repeated in the New Testament: “I Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals (ESV).  Some may deny this, saying, “Oh no, my friends will never have so strong an influence on me!  Never!”  But Paul says the person who denies the influence of bad company is deceived.

What lesson can Christians learn from this?   If you want to strengthen your faith and stay loyal to Christ, surround yourself with friends who want to do the same – strengthen their faith and stay loyal to Christ

There’s a War Raging, And You’re In It!

War_Thunder_Xbox_release_Thumbnail-heroThere’s a war raging; and you and I are caught in the middle. Oh you won’t hear any gunfire. This war is absent of the sound of missiles soaring overhead. No grenades are being tossed in your direction; at least, not literally. But nonetheless, there is a war going on. And this war has more devastating effects than any physical battle could ever produce.

Today, like any other day, there is a war raging over your soul.   Because, just as much as God wants you to be with him in heaven, Satan wants you to spend eternity with him in hell.   “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). And he will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Satan is very cunning in his methods.   Satan will attempt to do whatever is necessary to trap us; to deceive us; to discourage us and weaken us. If left unprotected we will surely fall. No wonder then Paul admonishes us to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

The raging war over your soul is a fierce battle that requires much strength and endurance on our part. But it is a battle that can be won! “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

Excluding the Scriptures Leads to Confusion

It’s an easy mistake to make when studying the Bible, focusing on only one verse that addresses a certain topic to the exclusion of other verses that also address that same topic.

No single verse in the Bible procropped-bible-medium.jpgvides all we need to know about any given subject. For example, consider the question, “What did Jesus say while on the cross?”  From Matthew’s account of the crucifixion we know that Jesus said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” meaning “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to Matthew’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

From Mark’s account of the crucifixion we also know that Jesus said “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” meaning “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Mark 15:34).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to Mark’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

From Luke’s account of the crucifixion we know that Jesus said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Luke also includes Jesus’ words “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43) and “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to Luke’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

From John’s account of the crucifixion we know that Jesus said “Woman, behold thy son” (John 19:26), “Behold thy mother” (John 19:27), “I thirst” (John 19:28) and “It is finished” (John 19:30).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to John’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

Not one of these verses that deal with Jesus words from the cross, if studied to the exclusion of other verses, provides a complete answer to the question, “What did Jesus say while on the cross?”  But when we consider all of them together, we know that Jesus, while on the cross, said “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani meaning My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, Woman, behold thy son, Behold thy mother, I thirst,” and “It is finished.”  It is only when we study all the verses that address Jesus’ words from the cross that we have a complete understanding of what Jesus said while on the cross.

A second example can be seen when a person considers the question: “What must I do to be saved from my sins?”  It is easy to make the mistake of focusing on only one verse (or a few verses) that answers this most important question to the exclusion of other verses that also address this same question.  Unfortunately, it’s also a very costly mistake.

Many preachers are quick to quote John 3:16 as one verse that explains God’s plan of salvation.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  The truth is this one verse alone does not explain God’s plan of salvation.  If I limit my study to John 3:16, the answer to “What must I do to be saved from my sins” would be incomplete.  John 3:16 says nothing of the need to confess my faith before others.  Should I then conclude that this confession is not necessary?  Not at all!

I might go to Luke 13:3-5 for the answer: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  I understand from these verses that I must repent of my sins to be saved.  But these verses say nothing of the need to believe.  Again, if I limit my study to Luke 13:3-5 my answer would be incomplete.

Still others are quick to mention Romans 10:9-11 to answer the question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins?” “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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:9-11). Do these verses provide a complete answer to the question “What must I do to be saved from my sins?”  Not at all!  They say nothing of the need to repent!  If I focused on these verses to the exclusion of others, I would not know that I need to repent to be saved from my sins!

How then can I find the answer to my question?  I must consider all the verses that deal with man’s salvation.  When I do this, I learn that, to be saved from my sins, I must hear the gospel of Christ. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

I learn that I must believe the gospel of Christ.  I must believe that Jesus left heaven and lived a sinless life while on earth.  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  I must believe that Jesus gave his life for me, that he offered himself on the cross as the only sacrifice that can ever take away my sins.  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). I must believe that he was victorious over death (I Corinthians 15:55-57), that he rose from the grave (Matthew 28:5-6) and ascended back to heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God.  “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10:12).

When I study all the verses that deal with my salvation I learn that I must repent of my sins.  “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30).  A person repents of his sins when he changes his will and decides to conform to God’s will.  He decides to live a life that is pleasing to God rather than self.

When I study all the verses that deal with my salvation I learn that I must confess my faith in Christ to others.  “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).

  When I deal with all these verse that answer the question “What must I do to be saved from my sins” I learn that I must be baptized to receive the forgiveness of my sins.  Those present on the Day of Pentecost heard Peter’s preaching and were pricked in their hearts (Acts 2:37).  They asked Peter and the rest of the apostles “Men and brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37)?  We can learn something when we consider what Peter did not tell them to do.  Peter did not tell them there was nothing for them to do, for this would have been an incorrect answer.  Peter did not tell them to pray the sinner’s prayer for this too would have been an incorrect answer.  Peter did not tell them to simply admit they were sinners and ask Jesus to come into their hearts and save them, for this too would have been an incorrect answer.  No friends.  Peter told them to “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 (Acts 2:38).

When I study all the Bible says concerning the question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins” I learn that I must hear and believe the gospel of Christ, repent of my sins, confess my faith in Jesus Christ before others, and be baptized to receive God’s forgiveness.

Many preachers incorrectly exclude baptism as a condition of salvation.  They are quick to refer to one (or a few) verse that relates to the topic of salvation to the exclusion of other verses that relate to that same topic.

The statement is often made that baptism is a work and we are not saved by works.  Make no mistake about it.  We are saved by God’s grace.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8).  We can never earn our salvation. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  We can never be deserving of heaven.  We can never be saved by meritorious works!

It is also true that no man can be saved by the works of the law of Moses.  “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:10-11).

Can I then conclude that God’s forgiveness requires no works of any kind on my part?  Not at all!  In the context of being set free from the bondage of sin the apostle Paul wrote, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17).  It is true that none of us can be saved by meritorious works or works of the law of Moses.  But it is also true that God extends His grace to us in response to our works of obedience.

Baptism is no more a work than is hearing the gospel, believing the gospel, repenting of our sins or confessing our faith.  Each of these things (hearing, believing, repenting, confessing) is something that man is commanded to do.  They each require activity on man’s part.  It should not be ignored that Jesus called believing a work.  “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).   Baptism is a commandment to which we submit and allow God to do His work.  Baptism is a work of God!  “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).

What must I do to be saved from my sins?  Eternity is too long to settle for an incomplete answer!

Error of “Once Saved, Always Saved”

cropped-bible-medium.jpgThe doctrine of “once saved, always saved” teaches that it is not possible for a child of God to sin in such a way that he will be lost. Many people, who undoubtedly are very sincere and possess a desire to do what is right, find tremendous comfort in this doctrine. This doctrine, however, is not taught in the Bible. It is an erroneous doctrine that provides a false comfort and a deceitful feeling of security.

First, let’s examine some of the passages often used to support this doctrine. Concerning the Christians in Asia Minor, Peter wrote “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:5). How is it that Christians are kept, or guarded, unto salvation? Through their faith! It is possible for a Christian to lose his faith and quit believing in God. The author of the book of Hebrews warned his readers against the sin of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12). Don’t overlook the fact that the author was writing to people who were already Christians!  They had been saved from their sins.  Yet he still warns them of the sin of unbelief.  Is a Christian who loses his faith still saved? Of course, the obvious, and only logical, answer is a resounding no!

Others point to John 10:27-28 in an effort to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27, 28). Does this passage really teach “once saved, always saved”? No! Notice Jesus’ words “they follow me.” This passage contains wonderful promises for Christians. However, these promises are conditional upon our continually following Christ. Those Christians who quit following Christ will not receive these promises.

Still others point to I John 3:9 in order to defend their doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” “Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God” (I John 3:9). John wrote that a person does not continue to sin because the seed (the Word of God) continues to abide in him. However, Satan can steal the Word of God out of a person’s heart if that person allows Satan to do so (Matthew 13:19). When a Christian allows the Word of God to be taken away from him, that Christian has fallen from grace and is lost.

Many other passages are used in an attempt to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” But, much to the disappointment of those who defend this false doctrine, numerous passages teach it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he will be eternally lost. First, there are things a Christian must do in order to keep from falling. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (II Peter 1:10). This passage provides a clear implication that if a Christian does not do those things Peter detailed in II Peter 1:5-9 he will fall from grace and be lost.

Second, the writings of the apostle Paul teach it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace and be lost. To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27). The word “castaway” refers to one who does not stand the test and is rejected!  Paul knew that without practicing self-control he would be rejected by God.

Third, Paul taught the Christians in Galatia that it was possible for them to fall from grace. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Many of the Christians in Galatia strayed from the truth and tried to be justified by the law of Moses. The Bible not only teaches it is possible for Christians to fall from grace, it gives us an example of Christians who fell from grace – some of those Christians to whom Paul was writing!

Fourth, the Bible teaches a Christian can sin in such a way that he will be in a worse condition than that which he was in before he became a Christian. Peter wrote “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:20-22). The “dog turning to his own vomit” and the “sow that was washed turned back to her wallowing in the mire” are used to represents people who have become Christians, left their life of sin, and then gone back into that sinful world.  If, in the “latter end” they are still saved how could their “latter end” possibly be worse than their beginning?

The parable of the vine and the branches proves it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace. Jesus said, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:…..” (John 15:2). Jesus went on to say, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). Notice that the branches in this passage represent individual Christians, not individual denominations. There were no denominations in existence at the time Jesus spoke these words. If everyone today would follow the pattern for the New Testament church given to us in the Bible, there would be no denominations in existence today.

God’s word plainly teaches it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he can fall from grace and be eternally lost.  Submit to God’s plan for saving man: believe in Jesus Christ as your savior (But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him – Hebrews 11:6), repent of your sins (And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: – Acts 17:30), confess your faith in Jesus Christ before others (And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – Acts 8:37) and then be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of your sins (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 – Acts 2:38).  Then guard your salvation like your eternity depended on it – because it does!