Can You See the Difference? (Part 3 of 3)

Since some say it makes no difference how we worship God, then why should it make any difference whether we worship God? Yet, Jesus said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). Further, Jesus spoke out against man satisfying himself in worship and not God: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).

The apostle Paul warned men that give little regard to what the word of God teaches concerning the worship that they had better be careful or else they could actually be worshipping the devils instead of God! He said, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (I Cor. 10:20).

Since some say it makes no difference how we are organized, then why should it make any difference whether we are organized? Yet, the New Testament church was organized by duly appointed representatives of Christ called apostles: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed” (Acts 14:22-23). The writer of Hebrews pointed out the reason for elders to have a position of supervision or oversight within a local congregation: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).

Seeing the difference in the name we wear in religion, what we believe, the church of which we are a member, how we are baptized, our giving, our attendance, how we worship, and how we are organized are vital to our acceptance before God and our spiritual maturity. Whether we are saved or lost eternally and whether those we love are saved or lost hinges on whether or not we truly can see the difference.

What about you? “Can you see the difference?”

Can You See the Difference? (Part 2 of 3)

The prophets said God would place salvation in Zion: “I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory” (Isa. 46:13). Ezekiel wrote, “And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all” (Ezek. 37:22).

Significant proof that they were talking about the church of Christ emerges in Hebrews: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:22-23, 28).

Since some say it makes no difference how we are baptized, then why should it make any difference whether we are baptized? Yet, the voice of inspiration insisted, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). In addition to that passage Colossians 2:12-13 says, “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. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”

Since some say it makes no difference what we give, then why should it make any difference whether we give? Yet, faithful giving is the proof of the sincerity of our love for Christ. Paul made this plain when he wrote, “Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God…I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love” (II Cor. 8:4-5, 8).

Since some say it makes no difference if we forsake some of the assemblies of the saints, then why should it make any difference if we forsake all the assemblies of the saints? Yet, forsaking the assembly of the saints is a willful sin against God: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:25-26).

The Significance of Christ’s Resurrection

Today, specifically, there is a lot of discussion about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I want to help you understand the significance of this blessed event. Here are Five important points to remember about the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead:

Each spring, millions of people around the world acknowledge, in some fashion or another, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead some twenty centuries ago. Modern society calls it “Easter.”

The origin of this term is commonly thought to derive from Easter, the name of a Teutonic spring goddess. The term “Easter,” is found once in the King James Version of the Bible (Acts 12:4). The Greek word is pascha, correctly rendered “Passover” in later translations. In fact, though pascha is found twenty-nine times in the Greek New Testament, it is only rendered “Easter” once, even in the KJV.

Christians are not authorized to celebrate “Easter” as a special annual event acknowledging the resurrection of Christ. Faithful children of God reflect upon the Savior’s resurrection every Sunday (the resurrection day – cf. Jn. 20:1ff) as they gather to worship God in the regular assembly of the church (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).

We ought to be glad, however, that multitudes – usually caught up in pursuits wholly materialistic – will take at least some time for reflection upon the event of the Savior’s resurrection. It is entirely appropriate that Christians seize this opportunity to teach; we should be both willing and able to explain to our friends and family the significance of the Lord’s resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation of the Christian system (cf. 1 Cor. 15:14ff). If there was no resurrection, Christianity is a hoax, and we are wasting our time. But the truth is, the event of Jesus’ resurrection is incontrovertible. This being the case, just what is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection? Think about these matters:

First, the resurrection is one of the major evidences that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Paul affirmed that Christ is “declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).

Second, Jesus’ resurrection represents an assurance that we can have forgiveness from our sins. Paul contended: “… if Christ hath not been raised, our faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The reverse of the apostle’s affirmation would be this: If Jesus was raised, sins will be forgiven when we obey the gospel – Acts 2:38; 22:16.

Third, the resurrection tells the world that the kingdom of God is ruled by a living sovereign. The founder of Islam is dead and his bones lie dormant in the earth. But the founder of Christianity – sixty years after His death – appeared to John on the island of Patmos and said: “I am the first and the last, and the Living one … I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore …” (Rev. 1:17-18).

Fourth, Jesus’ resurrection proves that physical death is not the termination of human existence. God is the giver of life (Gen. 2:7; 1 Tim. 6:13). Christ’s triumph over the grave is Heaven’s pledge to us that we too shall be raised. This is why Jesus is referred to as the “firstfruits of them that are asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20, 23).

Fifth, the Lord’s resurrection previewed the ultimate victory of Christianity over all its enemies. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is depicted as a lamb that had been slain, but was standing again (Rev. 5:6). This same Lord was “the lion of the tribe of Judah” that had overcome His foes (Rev. 5:5). Christians too will overcome as a result of the Lamb’s sacrifice and victory over death (cf. Rev. 12:11).

The resurrection of the Son of God should be a constant reminder to us of these wonderful biblical truths. We honor our Master’s victory over death – not once-a-year, but every week!

Why not obey HIM through the gospel today?

Acceptable Worship: Shall We Have Praise Teams?

The “praise team” is one of the sinful innovations that some of the congregations of the Lord’s church have copied from the denominations. Whenever the denominations come up with new innovations, some congregations of the churches of Christ are only one step behind them and are anxious to try anything they do. It does not matter if it is not scriptural. Just as the children of Israel in Samuel’s day wanted to be “like all the nations” around them (1 Samuel 8:5) with their sinful practices, today many congregations of the Lord’s church also want to be like all the denominations around them with their sinful practices.

Praise teams usually start in a congregation by “miking” certain people, including women, in the audience who have “great voices”. After the congregation has become accustomed to this, then the praise team is moved to the stage in front of the audience where they perform. The congregation ceases to worship God and is now being entertained by a choir. The worship service has now been changed to a performance and God is no longer being worshipped.

The whole congregation is to worship God with their singing. Every Christian is commanded, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Also we read in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Here we see that all Christians are to speak, teach, and admonish one another as we worship God in our singing.

With praise teams, women with the aid of microphones are taking part in leading the singing. Here we have women taking a leading role over man. This is forbidden in God’s word, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:12-13). Does it really matter if God’s word does “not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” in the worship service? Apparently not, because some have chosen to ignore what God says and do things their way. This is sinful and blatant disobedience of God. This disrespect will have eternal consequences. Concerning our worship, Jesus says, “God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The word “must” is an imperative, which expresses compelling authority and absolute necessity. The only way that our worship will be acceptable to God is if it is “in spirit and in truth.” How do we worship God in truth? Jesus says to God in His prayer in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.” So to worship God in truth, we “must” worship Him according to His word.

One cannot worship God with a “praise team” and worship Him in truth. The Bible says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). Everything we do in worship to God is to be done “in the name of the Lord,” which means by His authority. But where in the New Testament can you find the authority that a congregation is to be entertained by the performance of a praise team choir and with women taking a leading role over man. There is no authority for this since it came from man and not from God. Jesus says, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). When our worship becomes vain, it becomes useless and we will lose our souls as a result. The Lord’s church does not need to follow the denominations in their sinful practices.

Understanding Your Bible (Part 1)

The Bible was never intended to be some deep, dark mysterious book that the average man on the street must rely upon the so-called “experts” to interpret for him. Rather, the Bible is God’s revelation  (something “revealed”)  to all of mankind. In fact, even a casual reading of the Bible will show that the Lord almost always dealt with the “common” man long before He began showing things to the experts or to the intellectuals.

The Word of God – The Bible claims to be written by God while at the same time being written by men.  This was accomplished according to 2 Timothy 3:16 by “inspiration” – this means that God used men to get the exact words He wanted onto paper! The Bible is therefore unlike any other Book in that it is written by God.

The Bible claims to be alive (Hebrews 4:12; I Peter 1:23), without error (Proverbs 30:5), and preserved (Psalm 12:6-7) among other things. Therefore we should never make any attempt to correct the Bible, rather we should let it correct us. To correct what God said is to correct God!

The Bible should be the believer’s final authority in all matters of faith and practice. The folks who lived in a city called “Berea” (Acts chapter 17) were commended for being very cautious. Rather than blindly accepting what every preacher that came along had to say, they checked out all that they heard by searching the scriptures daily. If the people of our day consistently did the same, many of the false teachers would quickly lose an audience.

Interpretation:  One of the most common accusations hurled at the Bible is that everyone “has their own interpretation.” The reason so many different denominations, cults and sects exist today is because people have interpreted the Bible differently (unless they have thrown out the Bible altogether and made up their own teachings). This accusation however is not a valid accusation.  2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

TRUST in God’s Word!