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What Do We Know About The Simplicity of New Testament Christianity?

            Complex! No, complex is not a word that relates to New Testament Christianity. Man is impressed with pomp, ceremony and show. God is unimpressed with "the show of religion" which seems so important to man.  God is impressed with simple, humble love and obedience. "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." (John 15:14) The Word of God gives beauty and simplicity to the lives of all who seek Him. Simplicity brings joy and balance. We need to see the things that are important, God, family, friends, loved ones, giving to others and loving one another, simple things.

          Tradition, elaborate services, organizations, and endless ritual consume the religious thinking of many. The religious world has forgotten the simplicity of New Testament Christianity. God warns against such things. Observe the following:  "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts." (Luke 20:46) 

          Preachers are called, “Father,”  “Reverend,” or “Right Reverend.” The Bible says, "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven." (Matthew 23:9) God loves simple living and simple Christianity but men love the showy.  "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues." (Matthew 23:5-6) These and many other scriptures are violated continually by man's desire for show and ceremony. New Testament simplicity is far different.

          We know that New Testament salvation is simple. Faith is the beginning point of acceptable service to God. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Faith is the motivation for all obedience toward God. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Repentance is also required.  Repentance is a change of mind or heart that results in a change in life.  "The Lord is...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)  It is either repent or perish. Confession of faith in Jesus as Lord also plays a part in our salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)  A simple confession of one's faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ is a necessary step in conversion.  The final step in becoming a Christian is baptism into Christ. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27) At baptism a person contacts the blood of Jesus that washes his sins away. Every command of God is impor­tant and baptism is a command of God. (Mark 16:16)  The New Testament plan of salvation is a simple plan, but salvation can be obtained in no other way!

          We can know that New Testament worship is simple. Acts 2:42 expresses the simplicity of New Testament worship. We read, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." New Testament worship included: (1) the apostles' teaching.  The church must be taught so it can be edified. (1 Corinthians 14:19) (2) The collections were to be made weekly on the first day. Christians were to give and this giving was called "fellowship." (3) Breaking bread or the Lord's Supper was also part of first day worship. (Acts 2:42) Paul delivered to us what Jesus had delivered to him concerning communion. (1 Corinthians 11:23)  (4) Prayers are offered as a part of Christian worship (Acts 2:42), and (5) Praising God in song is part of New Testament worship. (Acts 2:47) The Corinthian Christians were commanded to sing. (1 Corinthians 14:15) The New Testament pattern for worship is simple. Let us never forsake New Testament worship. (Hebrews 10:25)

          We can know that the New Testament church is organized in a simple way. The church of Jesus Christ is organized under Jesus, the Chief Shepherd. (1 Peter 5:4) He is the head of the church. Elders serve under our Chief Shepherd to oversee the flock, the church. (Acts 14:23) Elders must be qualified men. (1 Timothy 3:1-7) The church also has qualified men who serve, called deacons. (1 Timothy 3:8-13) There are also evangelists or preachers who use God's authority in their teaching. (Acts 21:8) Preachers work and live under the oversight of the elders. Each local church is self-governing and is answerable only to God.  This simple New Testament organization will work in any culture and at any time.

          We can know the simplicity of New Testament benevolence. Jesus said, "You have the poor with you always." (Matthew 26:1)  Jesus went about doing good. (Acts 10:38) Let us follow His example. Christians are to work to meet their own needs and to assist those who need help. (Ephesians 4:28) God's plan is simple. God said, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10)  Proverbs 14:21 is a great principle that is still true today. "He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he." Caring for the needy is practicing pure religion. (James 1:27) New Testament simplicity is seen in the matter of benevolence. Those who honor God will have mercy on the poor.

          We can know the simplicity of growth as a Christian. Growth is necessary for all living things. In the life of a Christian there must be growth or there will soon be spiritual death. (2 Peter 3:18) Peter describes Christian growth in the following words: "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior." (2 Peter 1:5-11) The New Testament principle is simple, grow or die!

          We can know the simplicity of New Testament evangelism. Church growth is simple when God's pattern is followed: "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2) Soul winning puts purpose and meaning into Christian living. The psalmist wrote, "Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:5-6) The purpose of a Christian is to produce other Christians. (Matthew 7:19-21) God's way is simple. You have learned the truth. Now, go and tell others!

          New Testament Christianity is a pure and simple expression of our love and devotion to God. Man may wish for pomp and ceremony. God is pleased with sincere, simple love and service. "...For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

          Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Following our response to God's good news we must worship God in spirit and in truth.  

          By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA


JUST SOME THINGS THE LORD HATES?

          Today we turn in our Bible to a passage of Scripture that lists seven things that God hates. All seven of these things are hated by God because any one of the seven can mar the godliness and beauty of a life. "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19) God hates these things because they violate every principle of decency and morality. They are sins against God and also against man. These things are the epitome of what is hateful to God.   They provide for us a summary of wickedness. Earlier in the Book of Proverbs God had expressed His hatred against evil. “For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” (Proverbs 3:32-35) There are many things that are an abomination to God. This term is a term applied in Scripture to objects of great detestation by our Lord. Idols and their worship were an abomination to the Lord because they robbed God of His honor. Homosexuality is an abomination because it robes mankind of his morality. We can see how much God hates sin by looking at what he has done to redeem us from it. He sent his Son to earth to die on a cross to condemn sin and to make us righteous. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4) Just some things hated by God? Yes! These are things the Lord hates.

     Just a “look” that is repulsive to God? Yes! God hates a proud look. God is never pleased with prideful, haughty things. Pride is an offense against the holiness of God. Pride always leads to unkindness and irreverence. In Proverbs 21:4 we read, “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.” Psalm 18:27 says, “For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.” A proud look comes from a proud heart. This kind of heart makes it impossible to be God’s faithful servant. Just a look that is repulsive to God? Yes! God hates a proud look.

     Just some “words” that God hates? Yes! God hates a lying tongue. A ly­ing tongue destroys through untrue statements. Lying always comes from an impure heart. Lies always hurt. They destroy good names, disap­point, and hurt others and God. God hates lying because He is the Source of truth. Jesus used the word truth to describe His own character. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Satan is called the “Father of lies.” (John 8:44) When we lie, we are behaving like the devil instead of like children of God. God said, “He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.” (Psalms 101:7) It is wrong to lie so why would a Christian ever think about doing it? Just some words that God hates? Yes! God hates a lying tongue.

          Just some “action” that God hates? Yes! God hates hands that shed innocent blood. Shedding innocent blood shows an ultra lack of sympathy for God's creation. Those who shed innocent blood are out of tune with their Maker. The whole world is polluted and drenched with innocent blood. From 1973 when abortion was legalized in the US until now millions of babies have been killed. World-wide, more millions of babies are exterminated by abortion each year. Where are the tears? Where is the outrage? Where is the media coverage? People with blood on their hands, and countries that are polluted with the blood of innocents, need not expect help from God. "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood." (Isaiah 1:15) Just some action that God hates? Yes! God hates hands that shed innocent blood.

          Just some “thoughts” that God hates? Yes! God hates a heart that devises wicked plans. Such a life is spiritually rotten inside. When the heart is wicked the life will be wicked. Some hearts are so bad they are always inventing ways to do evil. (Genesis 6:5) Here, God is talking about evil premeditation. An evil plan is any plan that is developed without thought or attention given to the purpose and glory of God. A person who plans out a robbery or a murder or an assault certainly fits into this category. Do you want to know what a man is really like? Look at his heart. Luke 6:45 teaches, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Just some thought that God hates? Yes! God hates a heart that devises wicked plans.

          Just some “feet” that God hates? Yes! God hates feet that are swift in running to evil. God loves some feet. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15) There are other feet that God hate. Some are eager to do that which is unholy. They do not wait, they do not walk, and instead they run to evil. They not only do wrong but they do it eagerly. God hates the feet hurrying to run to mischief. In Isaiah 59:7 we read, “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.” The root cause of falling into mischief is a lack of the fear of God. “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” (Proverbs 28:14) Just some feet that God hates. Yes! God hates feet that are swift in running to evil.

          Just a “witness” that God hates? Yes! God hates a false witness who speaks lies. Because of false witnesses good men have suffered and evil men have escaped. A slanderer is a thief as he robs others of good reputations and the confidence of friends. There cannot be a greater affront to God or a greater injury to our neighbour than knowingly give false testimony. There are seven things which God hates, and lying is involved with two of them. God hates lying and He doubly hates it. God calls us to be men and women of truth and of truthfulness. We are to stand upon the truth of the gospel and God’s true Word and we are to speak nothing but truth. The very nature of God is true. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) Just a witness that God hates? Yes! God hates a false witness who speaks lies.
         Just someone who causes “division” hated by God? Yes! God hates the one who sows discord among brethren. This person tries to undo the good done by faithful brethren. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1) Strife and contention is caused when someone speaks contrary to the truth or gets angry when someone speaks the truth. “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.” (Proverbs 28:25) “God hates some things. One of them is the person who sows discord among his brethren. Some are too ready to quarrel and fight. Often due to envy, a person will stir up strife. Either for money, power and control, or glory and honor, or a combination of two or more of these, he will attack his brethren. Our responsibility is to help our brothers and sisters be edified, or built up, not torn down. Not only that, but those on the outside are watching, as well. Fighting and quarreling are destructive, and God hates that!” Just someone who causes division hated by God. Yes! God hates the one who sows discord among brethren.

          Christians must hate what God hates and love what God loves. To become a Christian hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess faith in Jesus (Acts 8:37), and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38)  After baptism allow Christ to be formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037


The Gospel..By Which You Are Saved

     The saving gospel needs no revisions, additions or alternations. The gospel, as it is, will save man as he is. "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:1-2) Salvation can be a reality only when the saving gospel is proclaimed, accepted and obeyed.

     The gospel by which you are saved is of Divine origin. The saving gospel did not and cannot come from men. "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12) A gospel which is not the "certified" gospel cannot save. When God's message is perverted with human opinions it has been robbed of all saving power. (Galatians 1:6-9)

     The gospel by which you are saved must be obeyed. Only those who obey the gospel will be saved. (1) The gospel must be preached, (2) The gospel must be received, (3) We must take a stand with the gospel, and (4) The gospel must be held fast. If this is done you are then saved by the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2) "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) The gospel is the power to cut the heart (convict sinners) and to save. (Acts 2:36-41)

     The gospel by which you are saved centers in the truth that "Christ died for our sins." Atonement by Jesus' blood is the heart of gospel preaching.  "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testi­fied in due time." (1 Timothy 2:6) Jesus gave Himself for our sins. "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." (Galatians 1:4) Man's problem is sin and without the shedding of Christ's blood there is no remission or forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 10:19-22) Sinners are washed from their sins by His blood. (Revelation 1:5)  Those who, in faith and baptism, obey Him are trusting Jesus' blood to save. (Hebrews 5:9)

     Obeying from the heart the gospel of Christ by believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized identifies one with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. (Romans 6:3-5, Romans 6:17-18.)  The needed message in our day or in any day is the simple, powerful, saving gospel message.  Obey the gospel today and enjoy new life in Christ.

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA


A New You Before a New Year Begins

          Our challenge in this life is to make a positive difference for the Lord. The Bible clearly teaches us that serving God is vitally important. Our main purpose is not working, hunting, texting or hanging out with friends. Instead our purpose is that of serving God faithfully. Sin is in our world because of a lack of respect for God. What is wrong with a world where Adam Lanza would kill his own mother, then go to Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and kill 6 adults and 20 children? What is wrong in our world? The answer is simple, God has been left out. Adam Lanza would not have killed those people if he had been a faithful Christian. Those who are faithful Christians do not rape, rob, steal and kill. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, theft and drunkenness by alcohol or other drugs are not a part of the life of a faithful Christian. The world says if you want to be a homeless, dirty bum, do it. The world says if you want to be an ax murderer, do it. The world says if you want to dress like a slut out beside the road trying to get business, do it. The world says that if alcohol and drugs makes you feel good, just do it. The Bible commands us to live a life worthy of the cause of our Lord Jesus. Sin and evil will be PAST for you if you are a faithful Christian. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

          Begin today, don’t wait for the New Year, to read and study your Bible daily. Daily Bile study is God's way to keep us on the straight and narrow path that leads to heaven. "From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15) What a difference it makes when we have God’s word, not on a charm around our neck, but written on our heart. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11) The best place to hide the word is in your heart. The best purpose in hiding God’s word in your heart is so that you will not sin against Him. A new you can begin before a new year begins if you will get God’s word written in your heart. 

          Begin today, don’t wait for the New Year, to speak only kind, loving and respectful words. The faithful Christian speaks kind, loving words of appreciation to others. "Let your speech be alway with grace..." (Colossians 4:6) The speech of a Christian must be holy, wise, gracious and intelligent. As children of God our words should be gentle, courteous, wise and discreet. Think before you speak. Always contemplate if your words are going to hurt someone. A new you can begin before a new year begins if you will always use speech that embodies Christianity.

          Begin today, don’t wait for the New Year, to find some way to serve others. Be a blessing and an encouragement to others by rendering some service to someone each and every day. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13) Let us be servants to one another in love. Daily righteousness could save our nation. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34) A new you can begin before a new year begins if you will find ways to serve others.

          Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. John said, "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5:11-12) We join with Paul in saying, "To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:21) Are you a faithful member of the church of Christ?

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street,

Greenville, Alabama 36037


A Donkey Demonstrates Obedience

     Balaam stands in disgrace as the model of apostasy. His desire for lust, power and wealth lured him to act in opposition to the will of the Almighty God. God admonished Balaam through an obedient, talking donkey. Peter wrote of the story of Balaam in 2 Peter 2:15-16. He wrote, "Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet." The story of Balaam is a very strange story, but it is true. It occupies three chapters (Numbers 22-24) and a number of other Bible mentions. Balak, king of Moab called upon the services of Balaam to put a curse upon the Israelites so as to stop their progress.

 

          Let us observe some of the facts of this bizarre account:

 

          Getting to know Balaam: The children of Israel pitched their tents in the plains of Moab near Jericho. Balak was King of Moab. His people heard how many Israelites there were and what they had done to the Amorites. They were afraid. So King Balak sent a message to Balaam son of Beor to come and place a curse on Israelites? Balak told Balaam that "anyone you bless will be successful, but anyone you curse will fail." The leaders of Moab and Midian went to Balaam with the message and they took money to pay him for his work. God's message to Balaam was "Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed."

 

          At first Balaam refused to go with these people. The second time they came, Balaam said he could not go even for a house full of silver and gold. It sounds like he was naming his price. God told him to go but to do only what He said to do. So Balaam got up the next morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. God was angry that Balaam had gone, so one of the Lord's angels stood in the road to block his way. The donkey saw the anger standing there with the sword, but Balaam did not see it. So the donkey went off the road into an open field. Balaam beat the donkey to get it back on the road. Next the angel stood in a path of the vineyards between two walls. When the donkey saw the angel, it walked so close to one of the walls that it crushed Balaam's foot against the wall and he smote her again. The angel then moved once more and stood in a spot so narrow that there was no room for the donkey to go around. So she just lay down. Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

 

          In a most amazing moment God caused Balaam's donkey to talk and it did not seem to shake the disobedient prophet at all. The donkey asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that made you beat me three times?"  Balaam responded "Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee." The donkey told Balaam that he was her owner and that he had ridden upon her many times. They donkey asked Balaam if she had ever done anything like that and Balaam said, "No." Then the Lord allowed Balaam to see the angel standing in the road, holding a sword, and Balaam bowed down, realizing that the donkey had saved his life. Balaam went to Balak and said, "I will say only what God tells me to say."

 

          Through this Biblical account we observe that Balaam did some things right. At first Balaam listened to God. Balaam said to Balak's officials, “Go on back home. The Lord says I cannot go with you." He refused to do or say anything that God did not approve. On Balak's second attempt Balaam said, "Even if Balak offered me a palace full of silver or gold, I wouldn't do anything to disobey the LORD my God." He said, "Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Ram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied...Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!" (Numbers 23:7-10) It is always right to be righteous and to only do and say what God desires.

 

          Through this Biblical account we observe that Balaam did some things wrong.  In fact he was so wrong that "God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him..."(Numbers 22:22) Moses said the counsel of Balaam caused Israel to "commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord." (Numbers 31:14-16) The work of Balaam caused the children of Israel to sin and to suffer a terrible plague.  Jesus recalled how Balaam "Kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel by causing them to eat food that had been offered to idols and to commit sexual immorality." (Revelation 2:14) Balaam could have helped the Moabites and others to "turn to God from idols, to serve the living and true God." (1Thessalonians 1:9) However Balaam failed miserably as a prophet. He wanted to curse God's people in order to obtain the money offered to him by Balak. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10) He loved money more than he love truth and righteousness. He "loved the wages of unrighteousness." (2 Peter 2:15-16) Balaam later conceived of a way to destroy Israel. Beautiful Moabite women were sent into the camp of Israel. They went there to lead Israel into sexual sins and once that was accomplished the women would led the men of Israel to worship Baal. (2 Peter 2:14-16) Balaam knew what pleased the Lord, but obeying the Lord did not please Balaam.

 

          Through this Biblical account we observe how God dealt with Balaam. God was very specific in telling Balaam what to do. "And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed." (Numbers 22:12) God gave Balaam the unmistakable sign of the talking donkey and the angel that he was in serious danger if he disobeyed. (Numbers 22:21-35) Even the donkey had better sense than Balaam. God was patient and longsuffering with Balaam as he kept associating with Balak and trying to get money for cursing God's people. (Numbers 24:10-13) Balaam tired to cure Israel but each time God turned the curse into a blessing. He tried three times from three different locations but he was able only to pronounce blessing on Israel and not a curse. Balak was upset he did not pay him the money that Balaam thought he would receive. Balaam's wicked counsel led to many in Israel being punished with death. (Numbers 31:14-18) Balaam was so overcome by worldliness that his values did not reflect the righteousness of God. He knew what God expected but he tried to find happiness in the world.

 

          Through this Biblical account we observe the end of Balaam's life. Balaam was remembered in Joshua's farewell speech. "Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. (Joshua 24:8-10) Jude wrote, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." (Jude 1:11) Finally a sad and misdirected life came to an end as Balaam was killed in the days of Joshua. "Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them." (Joshua 13:22) Balaam failed to obey God. What a waste!  

 

          The importance of obedience cannot be stressed too much. Peter wrote, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17) Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Those that become children of God have reason to rejoice. (Acts 8:39) The obedient can rejoice because Jesus is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." (Hebrews 5:8-9)

 

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA.


What Did Jesus Mean When He Said...?

          The Bible accurately teaches that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. (Acts 8:37) At His baptism God acknowledged Him as His Son. "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) This was also the case on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured and spoke with Moses and Elijah. "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." (Matthew 17:5) Peter was correct when he confessed, "We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:69) Let us be convinced from scripture that Jesus is the Son of God. There can be no doubt that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected exactly as the Bible says. Jesus was in the beginning with God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) He came to earth to make our salvation possible. "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38) The Bible reveals many facts about Jesus that should cause us to love and appreciate Him. One of the amazing facts about Jesus was the authority with which He spoke. When Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount "the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:28-29) What did Jesus mean when He said...?

 
          What did Jesus mean when He said "I will build my church?" Jesus said, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) What did He mean when he said I will build my church? Did He mean that He would build many different churches, teaching many different doctrines and wearing many different names? What did Jesus mean when He said "I will build my church?" Jesus made two promises concerning His church. He promised to both build and preserve His church. Jesus promised to build His church and He kept this promise on the day of Pentecost fol­low­ing His resurrection from the dead. The church was established about 33 AD on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1) From the beginning there was only one way to be a member of the church. Those who were saved obeyed the gospel of Christ. To be saved people heard the gospel (Romans 10:17), believed in Jesus as the Christ (John 8:24), repented of sins (Acts 17:30), confessed Christ as Lord (Romans 10:10), and were baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) On the day the church had its beginning three thousand believers were baptized in water for salvation. "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." (Acts 2:41) The Lord added these three thousand saved people to the church. What did Jesus mean when He said "I will build my church?"
 
     What did Jesus mean when He said "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved?" In Mark 16:16 we read "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Baptism is a very important and often misunder­stood subject. Baptism is important because it is commanded by Christ. What did Jesus mean when He said "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:15-16) Baptism is to be done by the authority of Jesus with its pur­pose being remissions of sins. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38) The blood of Jesus was shed in His death. "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." (John 19:34) Baptism is important because it brings one into contact with the death and blood of Jesus. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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." (Romans 6:3-4) The Bible teaches that baptism is nec­essary for our salvation. "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:21) Following faith, repentance and con­fession one must be baptized to be saved. What did Jesus mean when He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16)
 
          What did Jesus mean when He said "He that endureth to the end shall be saved?" In Matthew 10:22 we read, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” What did Jesus mean when He said "He that endureth to the end shall be saved?" Did He mean once saved always saved? Does it sound like Jesus speaking about the eternal security of believers when He said, "He that endureth to the end shall be saved?" The Bible does teach security for the believer, but it is conditional. We read in John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” The words of Romans 8:38-39 are likewise encouraging, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus said that the security He provides is for those who “hear my voice” and “follow me.” Those that love the Lord have protection against all external threats. What most people fail to observe is that these and other similar passages do not discuss what happens if an individual chooses to sin against God, or to leave the love of God. What is wrong with the doctrine of "Once saved always saved" or the "Perseverance of the saints? Consider what is written in 2 Peter 2:20-22 “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” The Bible also says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26) The message of the Bible is that of faithfulness to God in all things. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)
 
          What did Jesus mean when He said "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love?" In John 15:9-10 we read, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." In Deuteronomy 13:1-4 Moses said, "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him." One of the major tests in our relationship with God is obedience. What did Jesus mean when He said "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love?" Much misery has been brought into the world through disobedience to God. God tests our love for Him through our obedience. "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."(Jude 1:20-21) When Jude tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God he is telling us to live like real Christians. This makes sense because if we are going to fight for the faith we must demonstrate the work that God has done in our lives by glorifying God with our actions. We must live like people who have been transformed by the gracious power of God.
 
          The key to real joy is for God to rule my life. To become a Christian: Hear the gospel of Christ (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as the Christ (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess faith in Jesus (Acts 8:37) and be baptized to wash away sins. (Acts 22:16) At Bible baptism God adds an honest soul to the Lord's church. A Christian must also be faithful until death. (Revelation 2:10) Are you a true Christian? If not, please become a Christian and live faithfully the Christian life.
 
 
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street,
Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA

"The Church" or Denominations?

      The church of the New Testament is not denominational. In the first century there was only one church. No denominations existed at that time. It is just this simple, from about AD 33 forward for many years denominations did not exist but the church of Christ existed. The undenominational church of Christ is produced when the gospel of Christ is obeyed. "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18) As people obeyed this pure gospel of Christ they were saved and added by the Lord to His church. The New Testament church and denominational churches are far different from one another in origin, purpose, mission, and destiny.

      Denominations were planned by men; the church of Christ was planned by God and Christ. We read, "To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:10-11) God planned the church in such a way as to have unity. Unity is possible when "All speak the same thing." (1 Corinthians 1:10) Denominations promote division instead of unity. The church of Christ promotes unity!

      Denominations exist without blood; the church of Christ was purchased with Christ’s blood. To the elders from the church of Ephesus God said, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28) Christ and His church cannot be separated because His blood purchased His church. Therefore, His church is as valuable as His blood. Those that reject the church of Christ do not recognize the connection between the church of Christ and the blood of Christ. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)

      Denominations do not recognize Christ as head of the church, the church of Christ lifts up Jesus as head. Denominations have their heads and headquarters in different places around the world. Jesus is the head of the church of Christ. "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18) Neither the Pope nor anyone else can claim headship over the church. Jesus is head. He is king over His kingdom. Christians are citizens in the kingdom and thus must respect Christ's law.  Denominations do not respect Christ as head because they do not respect His law. Christ, the Head instructs His body, the church concerning what to believe, teach and do.

      Denominations do not teach God’s plan of salvation, the church of Christ teaches the gospel plan of salvation. Denominations teach people to go to an altar and pray for salvation, pray the sinner’s prayer, or to just accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. They do not tell sinners to hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized into Christ to wash away sins. (Romans 6:3-5) Denominations never tell people what Peter told the people on Pentecost. "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)  The church of Christ encourages gospel obedience. (Acts 2:36-41)

      God has blessed us with the great privilege of being a part of the blood bought, God planned, heaven promised church. Jesus gave the world His church before and without denominationalism. Let's go back to the Bible, back to New Testament Christianity, back to the Bible church. You can be just a Christian!  It is a great blessing to be a member of the undenominational church of Christ.                      

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA


"How Does One Obey the Gospel?"

Why did Jesus die?  Why was Jesus buried?  Why did Jesus rise again?

Because of our sins!!!

1 Corinthians 15:1-3:  Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, v. 2  by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. v. 3  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, v. 4  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

This is the essence of the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ!

Why are WE baptized?

Because of our sins!!!

Rom 6:1-3  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? v. 2  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? v. 3  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

Why are WE buried in baptism?

Rom 6:4a Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death,

Why are WE raised from baptism?

Rom 6:4b-9: …that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  v. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,  v. 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  v. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.  v. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,  v. 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

We must obey the Gospel or be lost!

2 Thess. 1:7-9:  and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, v. 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. v. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

So then, obey the Gospel today, before it is too late!!!

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16  And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

By Mark Henderson, Austinville Church of Christ, 2833 Danville Road SW, Decatur, AL 35603


"For the Remission of Sins"

"Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins'..." Acts 2:38 (NKJV)

Some contend that the phrase "for the remission of sins" here means because the sins have already been remitted, which means dismissed, or forgiven.  Many believe that their sins were previously forgiven, and now because of this, they are baptized. 

But is that what this passage means?

Let's consider another verse, where Jesus says:

"For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)

 Why did Jesus have to shed His blood?  Did He shed it in order for sins to be forgiven, or because sins had already been forgiven?

We read that:

"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins." Hebrews 10:4 (NKJV)
And:

"and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood," Revelation 1:5 (NKJV)

So we find that it was necessary that Jesus die and shed His blood in order for sins to be forgiven.

The phrase "for the remission of sins" in Matthew 26:28 in the Greek is exactly the same as is found in Acts 2:38.  If Matthew 26:28 means Jesus shed His blood in order for, from that time forward, sins to be remitted, then Acts 2:38 must mean the very same thing.  One must repent and be baptized in order for, from that time forward, one's sins to be forgiven. 

Any other interpretation than this makes the clear meaning of one passage of scripture disagree with another.

 


Jesus Christ, the Son of God - Proven By Prophecy

There are over 330 prophecies given in the Old Testament regarding the coming Messiah, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

To be valid, a prophecy must be:

(1) Far removed in time from the fulfillment.

(2) Given in such detail there can be no mistake when fulfilled.

(3) Given by a plausible prophet, or foreteller.

(4) Fulfilled definitively and without question.

A very few examples that meet the above requirements:

Micah 5:2, fulfilled in Mat. 2:6

Hosea 11:1, fulfilled in Mat. 2:15

Jeremiah 31:15, fulfilled in Mat. 2:17-18

Joel 2:28-32, fulfilled in Acts 2:16-24

These and many more are given in God's word to us, to prove to us and make us to believe (John 20:30-31) that Jesus was the prophecied and the true "very Christ" (Acts 9:22).


Historical Apologetics

Some claim that Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate, and other Biblical figures have no basis in fact.  But consider the testimony of Tacitus, Roman senator who wrote a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius (AD 14) through Nero (AD68).  Called the Annals of Tacitus, his final work is considered by modern historians "the pinnacle of Roman historical writing".  Clearly he had no sympathetic view of Christianity, but observe the historical facts he records (The Annals of Tacitus, Book XV, Section 44):

"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular."


Plan of Salvation App-The Big Green 'Go' Button

Check out the 'Plan of Salvation' App for Android, Iphone, and Ipad by Tony Edwards of the Church of Christ at Main Street, Adamsville, AL.  It's a ready reference guide to reaching and saving souls that will always be with you wherever you carry your phone.  It has lots of great material, charts, and information helpful for personal teaching.


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