A Real Conversation and Debate with Kent
|September 24 2005, 9:04 PM |
If you would just follow up on the conversations and discussions going on, especially the myriads of scripture references that are provided, such as the ones above relating: (1) to what truly constitutes the NT church membership [forgetting about labels and names]; and (2) to the importance of church doctrine, you should be able to join in these conversations.
So far I have not seen you engage in a real discussion. Your array of unpleasant and unsubstantiated adjectives used to describe those with whom you disagree may be a real discussion to you, but to those who are serious about what they post, it is not.
I hope that I know you are interested in continuing to postand we appreciate that, if that is the case. If not, then, how you earlier described yourself as a faithful detractor may have been accurately stated by you and may be the truth.
No, Kent, we are very interested in real conversation and discussion. I think you have the intellect and the potential to do the samejust need to apply certain rules of courtesy without resorting to unnecessary adjectives.
"The Greatness of the Church" (by John Waddey)
|November 9 2005, 7:46 AM |
THE GREATNESS OF THE CHURCH
The church of Christ is the greatest institution the world has ever known. It is a divine institution and we should never think of it in terms of an ordinary worldly thing, nor should we treat it as such. The church is Christ's kingdom on earth over which he reigns (Matthew 16:16-18). One cannot be loyal to Christ without being loyal also to his kingdom, the church. Christians and the world need to appreciate the church more. Consider some characteristics of its greatness.
I. THE CHURCH IS GREAT BECAUSE OF ITS FOUNDER. The founder is a most important factor in the merit of any organization. He sets it in order as to its functions. He gives it a code or standard of operation. His wealth and mentality furnish the lifeblood of the institution. An organization will usually reflect the spirit and ideals of its founder. Jesus founded the church (Matthew 16:18). He did all of these things for his church. It is our obligation to reflect his divine spirit and ideals in the life and conduct of the church. Paul exhorts us to "have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 2:5). Again, he writes, "Be ye imitators of me, even as I am of Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1).We should realize that it is a matchless privilege to be member of the greatest organization the world has ever known. Prophets predicted its coming. Kings and holy men desired to see the day. The rich and the poor, every devout God-fearing soul, even publicans and harlots, have eagerly sought to enter into the church of our Lord. We who are so privileged should constantly watch lest we by our conduct or speech shame or stain its holy reputation
II. THE CHURCH IS GREAT BECAUSE OF THE PRICE PAID FOR IT. Most worldly concerns were founded to enrich their founders. Even many churches began for this purpose. The Lord's church was not established for financial gain. What could the Creator want to extract from the work of his own hands? (See John 1:3). His purpose for the church was to benefit lost mankind. He purchased the church with his own blood when he died the accursed death on Calvary (Acts 20:28). To give us the church he humbled and emptied himself of his equality with the Father and became a servant of men, willing even to die for humanity (Philippians 2:5-9). He taught mankind that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
III. THE CHURCH IS GREAT BECAUSE OF ITS RELATION TO CHRIST. There are several ways of comparing or describing the church. It is the spiritual body of which Christ is head (Ephesians 1:22). It is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22, 32). The church is the kingdom of Christ and he reigns as its only king and lawgiver (Matthew 16:18-19). It is his army and he is our captain and leader (Hebrews 2:10; II Timothy 2:3-4). The church is his family, for they do the will of his Father in heaven (Matthew 12:50). There is a certain honor that comes from intimate association with great people. How much more honor is there to the church to be so wonderfully associated with King Jesus. While we ponder this point, as yourself, "Can I be saved out of Christ's kingdom; out of his army; out of his family?" The obvious answer is no. But since to be in his church is to be in all of these. The saved He adds to his church (Acts 2:47).
IV. THE CHURCH IS GREAT BECAUSE OF ITS MISSION. The great purpose of the church is to save lost men from sin and damnation by winning them to Jesus. It is charged with preaching the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15). It helps sinners reform their lives and be translated into God's kingdom on earth (Colossians 1:13). It prepares men for heaven (Ephesians 4:11-15; II Peter 1:10-11).
Christ's church is not a political power or economic power. It is not warlike as is Islam. Rather, the church evangelizes, telling all men the good news about Christ and salvation. It serves the unfortunate and keeps Christians in faithful service (Ephesians 4:11-12) As a great beacon light, it holds forth the word of life to a world lost in the darkness of sin and error (I Timothy 3:15; Philippians 2:15-16).
V. THE CHURCH IS GREAT BECAUSE OF ITS BLESSINGS. James tells us that every good and perfect gift comes down from God (James 1:17). These blessings are available to humanity within the church. There are certain privileges and blessings available to men in America. You may read of these blessings in a book or hear of them from others, but you will not receive them until you enter in. So with the church. You must become a member to enjoy the benefits. Salvation in heaven awaits faithful members of the church (Ephesians 5:23). Every spiritual blessing is available in Christ, i.e., in his church (Ephesians 1:3-7). There are such wonderful privileges as sonship to God, fellowship and brotherhood with all other Christians, communion, prayer and providential care from God. They are yours within the church. There are great opportunities to serve God and your fellow man in the greatest institution on planet Earth, as we work to make the world a better place in which to live. Really, there is no way to adequately measure these rich blessings.
VI. THE CHURCH IS GREAT BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE WHO COMPOSE IT. They are called Christians because they strive to be like Christ (Acts 11:26). They are called saints because they are dedicated to God's service (I Corinthians 1:2). They are in the world, yet they do not live like the sinful world (John 17:14). True Christians are honorable, humble, generous, pure, well-informed, truthful, faithful, benevolent, devoted, diligent, and loyal. No, they are not perfect, nor are they angels. But with God's help they are daily growing into the image of Christ by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2). What great joy it is to be a part of God's family on earth.
VII. THE CHURCH IS GREAT BECAUSE OF ITS ULTIMATE GOAL. Paul taught the Ephesian Christians that Christ is the savior of the body (the church) and that he will one day present the church to himself in glory (Ephesians 5:23, 27). In I Corinthians 15:24, the same writer says, "Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God..." John in a glorious vision saw the new Jerusalem, the church, in the presence of God in the heavenly paradise (Revelation 21:1-4; Hebrews 12:22-23). Throughout eternity the church of Jesus Christ will reign in holy triumph with the loving Father, the victorious Son and the Holy Spirit.
All men are invited to seek refuge within its sacred precincts. If you let God wash away your sins (Acts 22:16), He will add you to His church (Acts 2:47; I Corinthians 12:13).
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
"A CHURCH WITHOUT A NAME" (by John Waddey)
|December 4 2005, 12:56 AM |
Dear Christian Reader:
This lesson addresses a matter currently and widely discussed among our brethren. Please take a moment to read it. If it is helpful to you, why not forward it to all the other Christians in your email address book. In just a few moments you will have provided a lesson that will strengthen their faith. Send it with a prayer that God will bless His church.
A CHURCH WITHOUT A NAME
Change agents do not want to be encumbered with the name Church of Christ. They prefer anonymity. It is no surprise that those who hate and despise the church of Christ wish to erase her sacred name. It is strange, however, when some of her devoted members seek to do the same. Their logic ishaving a particular name denominates us and thus makes us a denomination. Although I have read many of their articles, I have yet to see one of their congregations identified as something other than a church of Christ.
While we cannot and do not insist that only the name "church of Christ" is biblical and acceptable, we should never be ashamed of it. It was used by Paul (Rom. 16:16). It glorifies our Savior. It identifies the church as belonging exclusively to Christ her founder, head and savior (Eph. 1:20-22). It is the only name in which salvation is found (Acts 4:11-12). It is the name which we confess (Rom. 10:9-10); the name into which we were baptized (Gal. 3:26-27). It is the name of our king in whose kingdom we serve (I Tim. 6:14-15). It is the name of him who will raise us from the dead, judge us and bestow our eternal reward (I Cor. 15:20-24). Why would a church not wish to be known, honored and recognized as Christ's church? Would it not be like a wife who does not care to wear her husband's name?
- Some say God did not give his church a name, nor should we. They think we should be content to call the church simply, "the church." A name is a noun that identifies a person or thing. The word "church" is a noun that identifies a body of people who associate for religious purposes related to Christianity. "The" being a particular article says it is a certain church. If we all identify our congregations as "The church" and use that in our documents we will still have a name.
- Should we use only the name church, those on the outside would be left to wonder just whose church it is? Is it Luther's, Wesley's, Calvin's or some other person's church?
- One brother suggests that we use in rotation the several biblical names for the church. A church with several names would present a confusing situation to those not within the informed circle. It would be like a man with several different names.
- A church with no name in a world of over 2,000 identifiable churches would be unknown and unrecognizable to those who might be hoping to find it; unique, yet lost in a forest of other churches.
- A church with no name in a world of hundreds of competing, counterfeit bodies needs some way for seekers to identify her.
- Imagine a man who desperately wants to be saved, to be a Christian, and to serve God. He reads his Bible and sets out to find God's people. If we did not identify ourselves in some biblical way, he could spend years, going from church to church looking for the church which is truly Christ's and might never find it.
- Imagine a Christian passing through a town on the Lord's day who desires to find a group of Christ's people with whom he might worship. But in a town of 75 churches, Christ's church has no name to identify her. He might spend hours on the phone trying to find her and still not be successful.
- The idea that the Lord's church should function in today's environment without some identifiable name is utopian in nature. It wrongly imagines that our circumstances today are identical with those of the first century when they are not. When there was only one church in existence it was reasonable that it have no specific name. The church either existed in a town or it did not. One did not have to compare different bodies to find the true church. This reasoning is of the same nature as the idea that since the church of the first century existed without fixed and permanent meeting places we should have no meeting houses (church buildings) today. It is like those who reason that since the apostles went out without purse or promise of support (Mark 6:7-8), so should we today.
- Common sense tells us that to attempt to exist and successfully function in today's world without a name is impractical and unworkable.
Let us wear that sacred name in dignity and honor. Let us conduct ourselves, both personally and as members of Christ's church in a way that truly honors the Savior whose blessed name we wear.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
"CASUAL RELIGION" (by John Waddey)
|February 11 2007, 12:01 AM |
Dear Friends in Christ:
Today's lessons addresses a problem that is common in 21st century churches. If you find it true to God's word and helpful please forward it to other Christians in your email address book. Feel free to print out copies to share with others. Pray for the preservation of Christ's church.
We live in a casual age. This is reflected in many ways. We see casual dress in public; casual manners while dining; casual grooming when going out in public; casual conduct when in public places. Most would agree that a degree of casualness is harmless, even good. The stiff formality of the past was sometimes oppressive and even pretentious. Yet most mature observers will agree that many people take their casualness too far. Especially is it disturbing and distressing to see some extreme cases of casualness in the life of the church.
Casualness is a common mark of those who feel empowered to change the faith, worship and practice of the Lord's church. Since Christ, our salvation, the church and God's word are the most important things in the world, let every child of God treat them with the reverence and respect they deserve.
- Some are casual about the salvation of sinners. They do not take seriously the conditions God has set for receiving sinners into his family. In no uncertain terms he has told us that confession of faith, repentance and baptism are prerequisites for salvation (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). These conditions are stated not once but in many places. Yet casual preachers are leaving the impression that one can be saved before and maybe even without baptism.
- Some are casual about the purpose of baptism. Many churches immerse, but few immerse for the reasons given by God. For most it is to join a denominational body. Biblically, one is baptized for remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Casual preachers imply that some might be saved even if they don't understand the proper reason for their baptism.
- Some are casual about their worship. The worship of God in many congregations cannot in any way be described as reverent. There is little or no solemnity. Such is manifested in preachers who treat their position in a casual way; with little serious study and preparation; with sermons that are more entertainment than reflections on the sacred things of God. Jokes, earthy stories and entertainment crowd out the study of the Holy Words of heaven.
- Some preachers are casual in their handling of the Scriptures. In place of "The Bible says," their sermons ring with, "I believe" or "Dr. So and So says," or "the majority believe." None of these have any currency with God, nor should they with Christians.
- Some are casual in their singing. They confuse fun songs and entertaining songs with worship to God. Others see no problem in replacing congregational singing, which the church from earliest times has practiced, with the performance of soloists, duos, trios, quartets and choirs, all of which have no divine authority.
- Some are casual in the observance of the Lord's Supper. It is manifested in the demeanor and conduct of those presiding and serving. It is seen in the behavior of those in the pews. Many commune with little preparation of heart and mind, with an inclination to hurry through the observance; with a lack of somber thought and reflection. All of these reflect a casualness that is not wholesome.
- Even public prayer can be offered in a casual manner. Men who pray without forethought as to what they will say; men who talk to God of Creation as though he were their next-door neighbor do not reflect the proper reverence for God and his worship.
- A casual attitude toward worship can be seen in the way some folks dress. If you were invited to visit the president or some notable dignitary you would dress "up" for the occasion. For the funeral of a loved one, you would dress up. How do you dress to when you come to honor your Lord's death?
- Many moderns are casual in their daily discipleship. Jesus calls all men to be his disciples (Matt. 11:28-29). Those who accept the call are expected to take up their cross and follow him (Matt. 16:24). He expects us to love him above all others, even our closest kin (Matt. 10:37). We are to let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel (Phil. 1:27). We are to discern the signs of the times (Matt. 16:3). All of these and many other scriptures remind us of the serious of our life in Christ. For the forgiveness, the blessings and the salvation he gives us, in return he expects our lives, genuinely committed, not as a casual game of pretense!
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now