- Part of God’s eternal plan (Eph. 3:1-12)
- To gather together into one body (Eph. 1:10)
- Subject to Christ in all respects (Eph. 1:22-23)
- All who are saved are within (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:23, 26); there are no unsaved people in the Lord’s church.
- Pillar and Ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15)
- Name? Church of the Lord (Acts 20:28), Church of God (1 Cor. 1:2), Churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16), Church of the First-born (Heb. 12:23) – Acts 4:12
- What is wrong (sinful) about another name? a) The Holy Spirit condemned division (1 Cor. 1:10), b) To wear the name of a man is to be carnal (fleshly, worldly) thinking (1 Cor. 3:3-4), c) Would it be wrong for a man’s wife to wear the name of another man, not her husband? d) The church is the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:23-27).
- How to be a member of it? a) One must believe the gospel after having been taught it (Romans 10:17; Acts 18:8), b) With that belief in place, one must repent (turn away from) sins (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31; Luke 13:3, 5), c) Confess (acknowledge) Jesus as Lord in life (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10), d) Be baptized (immersed) into the Lord, by the authority of the Lord (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-7) for (with a view to) the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16; 2:38).
ESV – Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
ASV – Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
WEYMOUTH – “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has placed you to take the oversight for Him and act as shepherds to the Church of God, which He has bought with His own blood.
WILLIAMS – Take care of yourselves and of the whole flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, so as to continue to be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.
Elders in the New Testament – so very important
- Paul spoke to Ephesians elders (also called bishops, presbyters, pastors and overseers).
- It was the Holy Spirit who put these men in position of responsibility; in the early church, as they were getting started, this was a miraculous endowment.
- As the church matured (Eph. 4:11-16), the Holy Spirit gave instructions pertaining to men qualified to serve in this God-ordained role (1 Tim, 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9).
- They were to shepherd, that is feed, the church that belongs to God, taking care of those souls “within,” resisting all error, making sure to pure word of God is taught by themselves and those in position of responsibility. The feeding in this context has nothing to do with physical sustenance, but spiritual.
- The church of the Lord belongs to no man, thus there is no man-made name given to the church; these came many years later.
- The Lord’s church belongs to the One who paid for it, and the price He paid was with His life (cf. Eph. 5:23, 25, 27).
1) If Scripture teaches God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, then any teaching which teaches God chooses only those He desires (limited atonement) to be saved is false. 2) The Scriptures teaches that God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10), thus, 3) any teaching which teaches God chooses only those He desires (those to whom He limits His atonement) to be saved is false.
Calvinism teaches this
The First Amendment to the Constitution reads this way: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
2 Timothy 3:12 reads, Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (ASV).
It appears to me we live in a time when the First Amendment is less about freedom to worship and more about taking the freedom, such as the freedom of speech. There are some in our country who do not like certain words, phrases and ideas to be expressed. Rather than the community shaming vulgar speech, some make laws (such as “hate” speech) to prevent others from speaking words with which some might disagree. This is called political correctness, otherwise known as PC. The amendment speaks against the government endorsing a religion, that is a religion of the state, this is what is prohibited, nothing more. Courts, however, afraid of many things and people expanded this phrase to mean much more than that. Now, there is the notion of “separation of church and state”, something not found in the Constitution, but in a personal letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Connecticut Baptists in 1802 (www.allabouthistory.org). Because of such a perverted interpretation of the phrase, the moral foundation of our country, exhibit in our government, is all but gone. John Adams wrote to a Mr. Warren that our government can only be “supported by pure Religion or Austere Morals. Private, and Public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics” (America’s God and Country, p.12). A moral standard comes from one of two sources: God, not God. There is no third option available. Since many in our community reject God, the only alternative is not God. Look where this has led us. Since we, as a country, are confused morally, the internal moral decay that destroyed Rome has already begun its destructive force against ours. It’s only in the Lord’s mind concerning how long He will allow us to stand as a Nation on this earth. We are we to do?
The only thing godly people (Christians) can do is live the life of Jesus Christ. For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (1 Peter 2:21-23). For the Christian, there really is no other alternative. As the opportunity is ours, let us redeem (make the best use of) time (Col. 4:5). In the end, while our country is being destroyed, those who live in accordance with the Lord Jesus will be saved. RT
It is this week that many reflect upon the up-coming holiday known as “The Fourth (4th) of July.” The day (evening) in which fireworks are shot into the night’s sky celebrating our country’s independence from Great Britain with our Declaration of Independence. The day of independence was actually July 2nd with the Continental Congress voting and declaring themselves free from the British Empire; after some additional debates and revisions to the Declaration, the final vote and declaration was on July 4th.
In my mind, since I like history a good bit, this is a great day of the year. It has lost its luster (shine), however, because now many in our society have failed to understand our country’s history, the tortuous fighting and laboring to keep it strong. Even by those who still know our history the luster is lost because we take it for granted we will be existing in the entirety of our individual lifetimes. Unfortunately, just this week, I saw a headline that 44% of those asked believe we are headed toward another civil war! As a people we have certainly failed to understand our history and the guiding force undergirding our existence. George Washington did not, however.
George Washington is known by nearly all in our congregation (except our youngest), and it is perhaps not as well known that he strongly believed in God and His Providence. On one occasion (July 20, 1775), he gave this order: “The General orders this day to be religiously observed by the forces under his Command, exactly in the manner directed by the Continental Congress. It is therefore strictly enjoined on all officers and soldiers to attend Divine service. And it is expected that all those who go to worship do take their arms, ammunition and accoutrements [other military necessities], and are prepared for immediate action, if called upon” (America’s God and Country, p. 638).
Maybe our country has forgotten those things that are important, such as God and all things related to His guidance, but what about those who call themselves Christians, Have they?
One would think not, but when attendance with the saints is spotty, when the Lord’s Scripture is not read, when financial support for the righteous cause of the Lord is lacking and when there is a general lack of application in Christian principles in the life of each who identify as Christian, then one has indeed forgotten. Jeremiah long ago spoke (and wrote) some hard-hitting words to those who identified themselves as belonging to God. “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not” (4:22, ESV).
The people of the Lord were foolish because they did not know God, that is, they took no time to learn and apply His will in a faithful and steady way. As the English Standard Version reads, the Lord called them stupid!
The day of liberty, the day in which your sins were forgiven is to be the most significant day of your life; better than any other day in your life that is associated with some great event (graduation, wedding, retirement, etc). It is the greatest day because on that day, as Paul said, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1, emphasis RT).
Is this something you believe? I know I do. RT
When the Lord established the family in the Garden of Eden, He set forth the roles early on. In the family, the male (husband/father) is the leader of the family, and the female (wife/mother) is to support the male in this endeavor. The male in God’s established family will bring glory to God and enhance his family as he keeps in mind these things.
First, he is to be a man of Devotion. By this I mean, he is to be devoted to the Father of all glory and devoted to his family. Devotion to God means one hears, obeys, and then leads the family toward heaven.
Second, he is a man who gives Assurance. By this I mean he not only has assurance from God as he revealed Himself in His word, but he extends that same assurance to those whom he leads. For instance, it is a most unfortunate thing to see the children grown up longing for peace, security and assurance in acceptance. A dad plays a significant role in this.
Third, he is also a man who is Disciplined. By this I mean that he is disciplined in his reading of God’s word, he is disciplined in his work ethic, and he is disciplined in his attendance when the church gathers together. He also exercises discipline to his children who step out of the way of that which is right and virtuous. The children, under his discipline, do not escape correction.
All these things that he exhibits will, through influence and example, pass to the family.
Now that is a D.A.D.
Not long-ago Haller Funeral Home called me and another to pick up a body that recently passed away. I was on a two-man team, the lesser experienced of the two. It was a melancholy situation. There on the bank of the creek lay an 18-year-old young man. Was it an accident? I heard his grandmother say, to another, he was having a party with his friends, and alcohol was involved. I heard the coroner say that he needed to be taken to Montgomery County for an autopsy, because it appeared there was physical evidence of a struggle. We picked up the once-living young man and left the scene.
Melancholy. It gets one to think (it did me) for what purpose did his life serve? In Ecclesiastes 7, the preacher (Solomon) said one needs to go to the house of mourning in order for the end of life to be imprinted upon those still living. For what reason is this needed? So many try to avoid “end-of-life” issues because of the morbid nature of it all. the Holy Spirit, through Solomon, said this was not wise. For one to go to the house of mourning, it helps to teach that we all will end of up at the funeral home. To make an imprint on the living, let us see those who have died laying still in a coffin.
The stupidity of people, myself included at one time in my life, is remarkable. “Nothing is going to happen to me! Quit your worrying! I will see you tomorrow!” Tomorrow never comes. In my life, as I reflect on it now, I have been but a few times, maybe only twice, on the cusp of death. As I think about it, I can’t help but to thank the Lord for His mercy. For on the cusp of death, I was not prepared. There are a host of people unprepared to meet the Lord. Unprepared because they don’t know the Lord, that is they have not obeyed the holy will of God. They are unprepared because they don’t know the Lord, that is, they don’t take time to read and understand His will for their individual lives. Unprepared, because if there is something that is “known” it is information or knowledge that came from another and is not one’s own. Unprepared! I was once there. No more. I took seriously my responsibility to the Lord, knowing that before Him I will stand one day, judged by the things the Lord did say.
I had better come to know them (John 12:48; 2 Cor. 5:10). I was once stupid because of ignorance. If I am stupid any longer, it will be the result of neglect. Paul wrote, For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad (ASV).
The “good” and the “bad” are not measured by how the individual identifies or determines what is good or bad. The good is the initial response one makes to die with Jesus. More than that, the good is the life one lives with Jesus. Again, from Paul, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20).
What is the bad? The bad is when one tries to live life not following the good mentioned above.
Who of us have not been engaged in frivolity and senseless pleasures, and now look on those things as a time of vanity?
Jesus said to his disciples to be on guard when around the religious teachers of the community (Mark 8:15), but the disciples had their minds in another direction, so when Jesus gave His warning, they thought He had something else in mind. He did have something in mind, but it was not at all related to what the disciples thought. Many times, one’s mind can be in a different world than in the one that is immediately in front. This was the case with Jesus’s apostles. So, in tune were they with the necessities of their immediate circumstances, they failed to understand a great point. We find ourselves in the same location frequently. We have eyes to see, but the blue dress we never saw because the hair on the females we are looking at was so interesting (mesmerizing, dumb-founding), we saw nothing else. That which is in front of us is a world of chaos, a chaos that is hardly seen because it is normal, and we have learned to navigates its obstacles. In all the chaos and obstacles presented, Jesus asks us if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, because what we see is confusion, and we certainly hear from as many people as we see the varied philosophies of life that each are certain will land them in the eternal bliss of heaven. Yet, have we heard Jesus?
The evil philosophy of secular progressivism generates in society life as meaningless. What inherent value does the political philosophy of progressivism contribute to society? Because of it, the life of a child in the womb has no value; a natural progress from this is the life of man has no value. If one asserts to the contrary, what is the value of life when progressivism uses evolutionary philosophy has it core foundation from which to move? The advancement of science has many looking at life as completely absurd and meaningless. Technology is the religion of the day, and that religious ideology is completely a matter of self-absorption. How is the human condition in life improved by science and technology when science is nothing but organized knowledge to help explain (a value in and of itself), but scientists interpret the data with a completely meaningless philosophy of life (such as life coming from non-life)? And what can a person say about technology?
God is completely eliminated, or almost so, and many live life saying there is no point or accountability. It is progressivism (life has no accountable eventuality) that generates massive murders in society, even if the deranged person is a conservative in his own personal philosophy.
“What’s the point? Let me do much harm and run away with self-extinguishing practices, for there is no one to whom I am accountable!”
On the other hand, Godly wisdom FAR out paces benefits to and for the community, more so than liberal philosophy ever can. It is this way, because liberal philosophy seeks to liberate constraints in many areas of life, one of which is moral guidance. It is self-interest in the immediate that is the focus, not the interests of others toward the end of life. This is empty.
My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. (James 1:2-3, ASV). The word “temptation” in the ASV is rendered “trials” in the NKJV. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) reads, “…even if you have a lot of trouble” one learns to endure by having their faith “tested.”
One’s faith being put on trial is a challenge for each of us. After the testing period we can look back and see the value of the test and the resulting outcome. Though we might look back on it and see the value of it, while enduring it we hardly see the value. If that test is really hard – we wonder if we will come through it unscathed with any ability to regroup. Knowing such potentials where there is a possibility my faith will be exposed for the weakness “I am covering up” we sometimes hide and hope the sin does not seek us out.
The Holy Spirit want us to consider it a good thing when we are put in tight spots, when we are called upon to make use of the teachings we have learned from the Lord in every-day life. It is a good thing because the trials of life bring us to maturity, the word “perfect’ in 1:4, conveys this idea as expressed in the translation by Charles Williams, “so that you may be fully developed and perfectly equipped, without any defects.”
In an academic setting, in the safety of the room in which I sit reading what James said in a comfortable chair or at a table, perhaps a desk – I understand his point. What about when I am in the midst of failing, when I am in the midst of falling so hard that I won’t be able to look up to see anyone, much less the Lord because of the great shame I brought to His name?
The only solution I know to be the best solution is that which one reads in Luke 18:9-14. Two men approach the Lord; one is highly religious, the other an outcast in society. The highly religious looked upon himself in comparison with the outcast and was pleased with his standing in society, unlike how he saw the outcast in the same community. It is obvious to each of us who read the words of Jesus this is not to be our approach at making a bad situation better. Strangely, however, more of us are guilty of this than we realize. Our approach may not be precisely the same, but there is a similar approach we employ. “I failed miserably, but my failure is not as bad as Sue’s.” “My sin is so serious that I have a hard time showing my face in public, but at least I am not the only one guilty of the same.” “Why are you so hard on me? Mike is just as guilty as I am!”
The outcast who was hardly able to look up to heaven said to the Lord, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Before that, however, James gives the approach we are each to take: it’s called prayer. Not prayer only, but prayer to the Lord, couple with learning from the Lord’s word, making application. James says much about prayer. “The fervent prayer of a righteous man availieth much” (5:16); in speaking of Job’s perseverance, he reminded that Job was a man of much prayer (5:11); those oppressed cry out to the Lord in prayer (5:4); adulterated (impure) prayers to the Lord results in nothing; submission to the Lord in heart and action generates much devotional praise/prayer to the Lord (4:1-10); the use of a sharp tongue to speak against a brother and in the next breath praise the Lord is a tongue of no use from a heart confused (3:8-10).
When you are in a weak spot in life, difficult as it may be to do so, get down on your knees and pray (1:2-8). Pray the Lord will help you overcome the weakness cast upon you, pray the Lord will give you strength to endure, pray the Lord for the ability to walk away and be protected from the frontal attack being thrust at you in the moment. Pray without doubting the Lord is your strength, and He is your only strength.
“My state of mind is not ready to pray when I am in that tough spot!” Perhaps not; if so, then expect to fail. On the other hand, if not you are not ready to pray, but you don’t want to fail, then change your mind and pray! RT