They laugh at us. They ridicule us. They mock and make fun of us. We invite them to bible study and worship and they sneer and walk away from us. But we are not taken off guard or surprised by their actions. In fact, we expect them. This, because that is exactly what our Lord and Savior said would happen to those who chose to follow Him. “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22). “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn. 15:18-19). Subsequently, we “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates [us]” (1 Jn. 3:13), but instead, expect and embrace it! “Blessed are you,” Jesus said, “when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12). “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets… Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Lk. 6:22-23, 26; emph added – DED). And so, as for us, we go on our way “rejoicing that [we are] counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41), and praying for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:38-48; Lk. 23:34; Acts 7:57-60). And in the meantime we continue to seek opportunities to love, serve, and introduce our persecutors to the Lord God (See: 2 Cor. 5:9-21; Phil. 1:12-13, 4:22).
But what of them? The first thing that always strikes me as being so incredibly enlightening, faith-building, and bible-validating, is the fact that just as in the days of Jesus, when both the pagan and religious people as well as their leaders were willing to go to such extremes as murder in order to reject, deny, and try to disprove the absolute truth of God’s word, they themselves, by those very actions, simply fulfilled the exact truths they so ardently sought to deny, right down to the letter! (See: Matt. 26:45-56; Lk. 24:44-47; Acts 2:22-36, 4:18-31).
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), which means eternal separation from God. Sin is a violation against God and causes mankind to lose fellowship with Him. God is absolutely holy and absolutely just and He cannot just overlook sin. There has to be punishment for sin and that punishment is eternal separation from fellowship with God. The only way man can regain that fellowship is if he pays the just penalty for that sin. It doesn’t matter what that sin is, the penalty is the same. We have all lost our fellowship with God and that cannot be restored unless we pay the penalty in full. faith works and glorifies god Faith works and glorifies God! Thankfully for us, God is rich in grace and mercy and He doesn’t want to see man suffer for all eternity. He wants man to have a chance to regain that fellowship so He came up with a plan where man can have a hope of being reconciled without having to suffer an eternity of punishment. God was under no obligation to do this. There is nothing mankind can do to earn or pay for it, we don’t in any way deserve it. Nothing man did compelled God to do this. And this means of reconciliation came at great personal expense for God. Namely the life of His Son as a substitutionary death penalty for us. God could have washed His hands of mankind and walked away to leave mankind to his fate forever and God would have been perfectly within His right to do so. He didn’t owe man anything. Mankind got himself into this predicament all by himself without any help from God. God was absolutely blameless in all that man did. God had no obligations towards mankind whatsoever in this entire affair.
But because God loves us so much, He graciously came up with a plan whereby man could be reconciled to Him and escape the death penalty of sin. Grace can be illustrated as God reaching down from heaven towards sin sick and doomed mankind with an offer of salvation. His motivation for doing this came entirely out of His love for mankind. That’s grace.
There are many groups of people gathered today as religious bodies or congregations, who identify themselves with the name “Church of Christ”. There are also very similar names such as United Church of Christ, International Church of Christ, Church of Christ Scientist, Celestial Church of Christ, and to be certain many other variations. Frequently, churches of Christ are differentiated in name by identifying their location before or after the name. For instance, Kibby Street Church of Christ is a church in Lima, Ohio located on Kibby St. It is critical to note: All churches utilizing the name “Church of Christ” do not teach the same doctrine.
There are many different names by which the Bible identifies the church. From God’s word, here are a few different names written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit: “Churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “Body of Christ” (Colossians 1:24), “House of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23), and “Bride of Christ” (Revelation 21:2). There are indeed additional phrases to identify the church of our God in the Bible. As individuals, we know Christ’s servants by one name: Christians. Acts 11:26, God’s servants were first called Christians in Antioch.
Regardless of the name for which a church identifies itself, it is not the church of God if it is doctrinally different from the church found in the new testament of the Bible.
Many folks in the world today, young, old, non-Christian, and Christian do not know when the church was established nor its distinguishing marks. It is immeasurably important to know the history of Christ and His church. For those exploring salvation, finding the true church spoken of in the Bible cannot be a maybe. In exploring views of the world today, some hear the words “Church of Christ” and their immediate reaction is, “Oh, they think they are the only true church!” Again, the reader must understand that there are many groups identifying themselves by the moniker “Church of Christ” and the Bible identifies the church by many names. The ultimate test of whether a church by any name is the “True Church” is doctrine. Does the doctrine taught match what is taught in the Bible? Thus, in answer to our question, who are the Churches of Christ? They are a group of Christians trying to practice Christianity like it was practiced in the New Testament.
Does the church of Christ believe in the Old Testament?
Yes! Prophets of God delivered and wrote the Old Testament. If it is from God, Christians believe it! There is much Christians would not know if they did not have the Old Testament. The Bible says the Old Testament was “the first covenant” and “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15). The Old covenant was for the Jews and our example. The new covenant replaces the old and is binding upon the world today. Thus, while Christians believe in the Old Testament, it’s covenant has not been binding upon them since the resurrection of Christ.
It is the duty of a Christian to be able to defend and share his faith for salvation of self and others. To do that, you need to know from where your church and its beliefs came. 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.”
Mankind has worshipped God since the beginning, see Genesis 4 and Adam’s sons. However, mankind has had freedom to obey or not obey God from the beginning also. Thus, by Genesis 6 men were not worshipping God in a pleasing way. Although mankind has been worshiping God from the beginning, none of it was through the church. The church and its pattern of worship did not appear until about 30 AD on the day of Pentecost.
The scene of the day of Pentecost is found in the book of Acts 2. The day was the first day of the week, coincidentally, or not, the same day Christ was resurrected. Jesus had promised He would send his Holy Spirit Acts 1:4-8 and told the apostles to remain in Jerusalem until that time. The coming of the Holy Spirit was prophesied in Joel 2 and signified the arrival of God’s kingdom in “power” (Mark 9:1). On that day the apostle Peter preached the good news of Jesus with over 3000 Jews accepting God’s call of obedience leading to salvation. The 3000 Jews after asking men inspired of the Holy Spirit what they should do were told to “repent and …be baptized” (Acts 2:38). From this point forward, the fellowship of God’s faithful was in operation. The believers were zealous in their service of God and were devoted to worship (Acts 2:42).
In the Old Testament, we read of Jeroboam. This king had a very different religion than that of David’s (1 Ki. 12:25-33; 2 Sam. 24:22-24). His religion was also very different from the apostle Paul’s, who counted all things loss for the cause of Christ (Phil. 3:7-8). Jereboam’’s religion was different in that he wanted to change the Lord’s way. Jeremiah recorded, “. . . what a horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:30-31). However, God’s ways cannot be changed (Rev. 22:18-19). Alas, as in the day of old, so it is with the new, where it does not matter to some who desire to change the Lord’s ways.
Take for instance, salvation. We know, according to the Bible, that we must wait on the Lord and that we cannot do anything alone. We can only be saved by the Lord’s way. Jesus said, “. . . But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God . . . Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:15-16, 24). This excludes and prevents our way from being considered or accepted. Immersion is another problem that people have. Is immersion really that hard to follow? You would think this is the case since many are prone to sprinkling or pouring water, calling it baptism. Did you know that five times it is mentioned, both Philip and the Eunuch are in water (Acts 8:26-39)? Paul said that immersion is related to being buried with Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). If people want to sprinkle or even turn the garden hose on someone and call that immersion, do people not know that this is not the one baptism that is authorized by the Lord (Eph. 4:5)?
These sort of problems are made public because people do not want to see the standard of authority. They say all things are acceptable including, but not limited to, joining the church of your choice. They have no religious conviction nor do they have a “thus saith the Lord” for what they do. Despite the fact that the Bible says there is one body which is the church (1 Cor. 12:20). People seem to believe what they want to believe and do things in the way they want to do them, like Jeroboam. Thus, compromises in truth are clearly evident making the Lord’s ways seem cheap and easy. No conviction. Cannot say anything against someone. They just want the smooth road and believe that you will go to heaven since there has been a blanket of grace put across mankind and that nothing we do really matters. This could be called Jeroboamism.
The way of Jeroboam really was accepted with people in that he gave them convenience and compromises.
Today, it is no different as the people are given the opportunities to partake of the Lord’s Supper any day they want, who no longer have Biblical preaching, but entertain themselves to the point that they are lying on the floor with marshmallows of joyous entertainment attached to their faces. But you know, the Lord is not amused. How can we ignore Scripture as Jeroboam did? God is not pleased with selfish pursuits and we should not be like those who poorly attempt to make going to heaven, cheap or easy. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Let us be faithful and be able to say, as Paul said, “. . . I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day . . .” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
Let us not make Christianity cheap like the world does.
Let us do things the Lord’s way.
As Christians, we praise God.
We do so in spoken word, in song, and in other worship.
Do we understand what it means to praise God?
Do we know what we are doing when we offer the sacrifice of praise?
In the Old Testament, there are different Hebrew words for praise. These different words indicate different nuances of meaning. There are at least five concepts behind the words for praise: thanksgiving, joy or rejoicing, adoration or worship, blessing and boasting. When we praise God, we do these things.
Praising God is an important part of the faithful Christian’s life. Let’s resolve to know what we are doing when we offer praise to God. It will both improve our worship and our spiritual lives.
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