Bible Study

“God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

As we consider the question, “Who is God?” Jesus’ answer in John 4:24 is relevant.  God is not a man (Number 23:19).  God is something fundamentally different.  We may characterize human existence (at least partly) as physical or earthy for it was out of the dust of the ground that God created man (Genesis 2:7).  God, however, was not formed by such processes; God was not created, but exists from all eternity (Isaiah 57:15).  As such, God’s existence is something metaphysical.  God stands above and is prior to the creation.  The physical world cannot stand in such a relationship to itself so as to be above and prior to itself.  Moreover, concepts of God that do not preclude the physical world as aboriginal are not sufficient to describe God’s existence.  God must be something other.  Jesus therefore says, “God is Spirit.”

But for God to be something other raises questions.  Is God so radically different from man that a relationship is impossible?  Some have so concluded.  The Bible tells us, however, that God created man “in His image” (Genesis 1:27).  There is placed upon man the stamp of the divine and there is something about man that is at least similar to God in such a way that a relationship is possible.  This is the spiritual side of man.  Just as God is a spirit, so also man, while having a physical component is also spirit.  James 2:26 says “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  Human persons are both body and spirit.

The story of the thief on the cross illustrates God’s deep desire for a relationship with man.  Jesus said to this him, “Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  Jesus’ body went to the tomb as did the thief’s.  What, then, constituted their relationship subsequent to death?  In what way could Jesus be said to be “with” the thief, “today”?  It was due to the relationship of spirit to spirit: man’s spirit in relationship to God’s Spirit in the spiritual realm.

It follows, then, that we must cultivate a spiritual relationship with God, Who is Spirit.  Our worship of God must be in spirit and in truth – concepts themselves that are ultimately non-physical.  Our earthly life viewed as the Patriarch’s so viewed it – a pilgrimage (Hebrews 11:10-16).  This does not imply irresponsibility to and in this life (as some charge and as others adopt), for while a pilgrimage entails a necessary end point, the journey itself is of significant spiritual value.  Only on this journey do we encounter the opportunity for moral development and personal responsibility.  This opportunity is a present reality to which we must give heed and upon which our ongoing relationship with God depends.  Spiritual growth is a lifelong process and it is from such growth that our ultimate character is shaped and molded in preparation for eternal life (2 Peter 1:1-11).

Peter’s promise of partaking of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and John’s exhortation that we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2), motivate us to live personally responsible, pure, and holy lives right now so that ultimate fellowship with God, who is Spirit, may one day be consummated.  God’s spiritual existence and the promise of eternal fellowship with Him on that level are the bases for our hope and the motivation for our living lives of faithfulness in the here and now.

“He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Located in the Bayerische Staatsmuseum in Munich hangs a painting Italian painter Domenico Feti (1589–1623) entitled Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”). At the bottom of the canvas the Latin inscription, “Ego pro te haec passus sum, Tu vero quid fecisti pro me: This have I suffered for you; now what will you do for me?” After seeing this painting Francis Havergal was moved to pen the words to the beautiful hymn “I Gave My Life For Thee.” It is time that we as Christians not only sing these hymns but truly commit to meaning what we sing by making the necessary changes in our lives.

We need to be reminded that Jesus said, “whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33). We come to Christ to be saved and are required to submit to His will, to give up our own selfish ambitions, and put God and others above ourselves. Yet, few do. And sadly many of the problems we see in the church are solely due to the fact that we have to have things done our way or we pout and/or throw a fit. Paul admonishes us to “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Just as egregious are those who sing the last stanza of the great hymn stating “None of self, and all of thee” and are for all intents and purposes lying to themselves and God.

There are two types of people I would like for us to consider:

Those Who Have Never Forsaken Anything: Like the Rich Young Man who comes to Jesus desiring eternal life (Matthew 19:16–22; Luke 18:18–23). When Jesus told him that in order to be perfected he would need to go and “sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22) he “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22).

Those Who Have Returned To Their Old Life: Much like the prodigal son who wasted his father’s inheritance (Luke 15:11–32), are those who forsake their Lord in order to return to the love of the world. Yes, we know the Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Nonetheless we are “choked cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). Indeed, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The fact remains that you and I have either forsaken all for Him or we have not. There is no middle ground! What do I treasure in my heart more than heaven; Family, friends, sinful behavior, selfish ambition (even that which is disguised in righteousness)? “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

Be faithful my friends!  

Gospel Plan of Salvation

Before we can respond to God we must realize our lost spiritual condition:

Isaiah 59:2 - your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.

1 John 3:4 - Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Since we are sinners we must realize that we cannot earn our salvation:

Ephesians 2:7-8 - that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

In order to be saved we must respond to God's offer of grace and mercy. We must believe in God and in Christ Jesus through hearing his gospel:

Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Romans 10:17 - So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

James 2:20-24 - But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.

We must repent:

Luke 13:3 - I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

Acts 17:30 - The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:

We must confess the name of Christ before men:

Matthew 10:32 - Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven.

Romans 10:9 - because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:

Paul tells us that on the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, “and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). Jesus instituted this supper to be done in remembrance of Him. Paul said, “as often” as Christians partake of this memorial supper, they “show the Lord's death till he come.” There is no question that the church should partake of the Lord’s Supper (communion), but how often? Is the frequency of partaking of communion just a matter of opinion?

It would be strange if the Lord instituted a memorial and gave no guidance how often it should be done. The Jews received explicit instructions when they were to observe the Passover, Pentecost, and other memorials. The New Testament is clear that the early church assembled each first day of the week [Sunday] for worship. 1 Corinthians 14:23 speaks of the whole church “come together into one place” and Hebrews 10:25 warns against “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” The first day of the week was the time for the early church to assemble and partake of communion.

Luke tells us that Paul came to Troas “and upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). The verse before states, “we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:6). Paul and his company had waited a full seven days at Troas so that they could meet with the Christians of Troas on the first day of the week, “when the disciples came together to break bread.” Their stated purpose in coming together was “to break bread,” meaning to partake of the Lord’s Supper, or communion. The writings of many ancient writers such as Pliny, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and others show that the universal practice of the early church was to meet each first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

But was it every first day? When God told the Jews to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), they understood that it was every Sabbath day that was intended, even though God did not specifically say to remember every Sabbath day. When Paul wrote, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2), didn’t he mean that each first day of the week was the day for Christians to give? Each first day of the week, [the day of the Lord’s resurrection, and the day the church was established], is the day Christians are to observe communion. No other day is authorized by command or example of scripture.

My great grandfather and great grandmother Campbell were members of the Braxton Church of Christ in Cannon County, Tennessee, and after my great grandfather died and my great grandmother moved her three boys to Texas, she raised them in the South Park Church of Christ in Beaumont, Texas. My grandfather and one of his brothers married Methodist sisters and the women succeeded in diverting them into Methodist churches. The reputation that the Churches of Christ had among my kinfolk was that they were eccentric because they did not use musical instruments in worship, they celebrated the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, they didn’t have creeds (except the New Testament), and they seemed not to recognize other Christian churches who did not “bear the name” of Christ in the names of their (our) denominations.

This impression was solidified when in my senior year in high school I responded enthusiastically to an advertisement in a used-book shop in Beaumont promising free Greek lessons. I was taken to a small Church of Christ in Bridge City, Texas, where I got about forty-five minutes of instruction in the Greek alphabet and then I was treated to an hour and a half of heated discussion sparked by a question posed by a younger and obviously inexperienced minister, “If I go to a Baptist revival and I just sit on the back row and don’t sing the hymns or anything, does that constitute having ‘fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness’” (Ephesians 5:11)? The answer, I quickly learned, was yes, it does. And from the conversation in the car on the way to Bridge City and back I figured out that this was a group of Church of Christ folk who regarded a lot of other Churches of Christ folk as mere pretenders to the name. They were, I think, what my Campbell relatives called “hard-shell” Churches of Christ folk.

So I did not have a very positive impression of the Churches of Christ, but I’m beginning to change my mind, and now I’m thinking they may be right on some of those most interesting points that have distinguished them. I attended the Preston Road Church of Christ on Sunday March 6, 2011, deeply enjoyed the service, the singing, and the sermon by Rev. Scott Sager. I also was offered and received the Lord’s Supper there, so my great grandma Campbell can perhaps take solace in the fact that I am now in communion with at least one Churches of Christ congregation however soft-shelled they may be and however unwittingly this happened on the part of the congregation.

Before we can respond to God we must realize our lost spiritual condition:

Isaiah 59:2 - your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.

1 John 3:4 - Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Since we are sinners we must realize that we cannot earn our salvation:

Ephesians 2:7-8 - that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

In order to be saved we must respond to God's offer of grace and mercy. We must believe in God and in Christ Jesus through hearing his gospel:

Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Romans 10:17 - So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

James 2:20-24 - But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.

We must repent:

Luke 13:3 - I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

Acts 17:30 - The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:

We must confess the name of Christ before men:

Matthew 10:32 - Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven.

Romans 10:9 - because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:

Be baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins:

Mark 16:15-16 - And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

Clifton Chruch of Christ

313 Main Street

Clifton, Tenn. 38425

(931) 676-3099

Worship Times

Sunday 10:00am Sunday School
Sunday 11:00am Worship Service
Sunday 6:00pm Evening Worship
Wednesday 6:00pm Bible Study

Upcoming Events

10 Dec 2018n12:00AMnBlood Drive 8:15 -12:15
23 Dec 2018n12:00AMnChristmas Get-Together after PM service
24 Dec 2018n12:00AMnChristmas Eve
31 Dec 2018n08:00AM - 05:00PMnNew Years Day
Go to top