BACK TO THE ORIGINAL CHURCH
THE CHURCH of the first century
as established by Christ through his apostles was not a denomination, but
simply and purely the church and spiritual body of Christ upon the earth.
On this most all will agree. But on the necessity of returning to that
status, and on the means of doing this, few will agree. Divesting ourselves
of denominationalism does not come easy. But, if we really want to be acceptable
with the Lord, and Scriptural, it is a necessity (John 17:20-22; Romans
16:17; I Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-4,17; Ephesians 4:1-6; Galatians 1:6-8).
Let us stop trying to justify our denominational divisions, organizations,
and traditions not found in the New Testament. God does not give one person
the right to believe one thing and his neighbor the right to believe another
as far as salvation is concerned. In that Great Day all of us are going
to be judged by the same Book, and we know what that Book is--the
Bible. We have no authority from God to form a denomination or invite anyone
to join such a denomination (no one has such authority, for it has not
been divinely given to man). In fact, when we truly obey God, we are made
one, not a part of any or many denominations (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians
3:15; I Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:38-41,47). Therefore, let us search out
the old "land marks." Let us humbly return, giving up denominational pride;
yes, let us be identified only with that one church which has already been
established in the first century (against such Jesus said the gates of
hell would not prevail, Matthew 16:18). Let us be one in Christ. There
is much divesting and returning that needs to be, and must be, done. Are
we up to it?
CHARTER OF THE CHURCH"
"And JESUS came and spake unto them, saying, All
power [authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth..."
1. "Go ye therefore..."
2. "And teach [make disciples of] all nations..."
3. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and the Holy Ghost [Spirit]..."
4. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever
I have commanded you..."
"And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end
of the world [age]. Amen."
ON THE PEAK his resurrection
glory the Lord Jesus Christ spoke these great and imperative words to his
disciples. The cross was now behind him, and his great work of human redemption
had been accomplished. Now the world was to hear the good news.
First, as a preamble to all that follows, Jesus declares by what authority
he could make such a great commission. The authority of heaven and earth
is behind these commanding words. There is no greater statement of authority.
Next, the heart of the commission itself appears. It represents the thrust
of the great work that is to be done. Go, make disciples of all nations,
baptize them, and then teach them to observe all things that Christ has
commanded. All men have sinned. All men are lost. All men need the Savior.
This commission is to be carried out until the end of the world. That is
beyond the death of the apostles. That being the case, the commission involves
others besides the apostles. And inasmuch as they were to teach men to
observe all things he had commanded, that means the great commission would
be taught over and over again as this was one of the things he commanded.
Indeed, this is the charter of the church.
Finally, a wonderful promise follows. It is given to all who faithfully
carry out the great commission and work under the charter of the church.
If we are going, teaching the true gospel, baptizing as he taught, and
teaching men to observe all things he commanded, he is with us.--J.E.G.
(VOL. 35, NO. 1, 1997)
A DOLLAR IS NOT
WORTH A DOLLAR ANYMORE
IT HAS BEEN SAID that
a dollar bill held in oneís pocket since 1961 would be worth about 18 cents
today. How much would that same dollar bill now be worth if it had been
invested in stocks, bonds, or even a bank?
Letís think about this spiritually. The Lord gave the parable of
the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and a similar one involving ten pounds (Luke
19:12-27). In each parable the one who had done nothing with that which
he had received was held accountable with the most severe consequence.
In the parable of the talents the servant who had done nothing with his
Lordís money was sternly addressed, "So you ought to have deposited my
money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my
own with interest" (Matthew 25:27, NKJV; also notice Luke 19:23).
Since becoming a Christian, what have you done with the abilities
and resources with which the Lord has endowed you? In fact, have those
endowments diminished in value by lack of use? That is what the parable
of the talents (and of the pounds) is all about. Whether we believe this
or not, we are going to be held accountable.
OF THE COMMANDMENT
"Now the end of the commandment is charity [love]
out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned"
(I Timothy 1:5, KJV).
THE WORD translated "perfect"
in the New Testament, teleios, is a most interesting word.
It signifies reaching the goal. It is cognate with or comes from the word
telos, which means the end or goal. Thus, God is perfect
in the absolute sense, but man only in a relative sense in reaching the
goal of maturity (not sinless perfection).
Paul makes use of this word as he spoke of his aspirations for Christ in
Colossians 1:28, "Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man
in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus"
(NKJV). Initially through Christ we reach the goal of forgiveness and right
relationship with God. The righteousness of Christ in sinless perfection
is declared to be our righteousness (Romans 10:4; I Corinthians 1:30; II
Cor. 5:21). Through God's grace we put on Christ in baptism (Acts 2:38;
Galatians 3:27). We are now in Christ, a Christian, and our goal is to
be like Christ. Or in the language of Paul, "a perfect [teleion]
man," attaining unto "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ"
(Ephesians 4:13). This is God's plan from eternity (Romans 8:29; Ephesians
In one great, simple, and practical statement the apostle nails it all
down in I Timothy 1:5, "Now the purpose [telos, goal,
end) of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience,
and from sincere [unfeigned] faith." The end result of God's commands and
instructions is realized in the context of love, initially and thereafter
(I Peter 1:22). That's what it's all about. In this context there must
be a pure heart (a singular heart that has no sinful admixture or
selfish motive), a good conscience void of offense (we are not dabbling
in sin and questionable things; we have tender sensitivities about right
and wrong), and sincere faith (one that is real, unfeigned; we are
not hypocrites). John (I John 4:17,18) speaks of love being "perfected
among us" (and it is when it is in accordance with I Timothy 1:5).
The goal of Christianity is very simple, to be reconciled to God through
Christ and to be like Christ. Christianity is Christ. When we are sidetracked
into sectarian wrangling and denominationalism, we have missed the mark.
Even as Paul said here: "From which some, having strayed, have turned aside
to idle [fruitless] talk" (I Timothy 1:6).
I DO NOT OBSERVE CHRISTMAS
1. We donít know when Christ was born, and if God had wanted this
day observed in a special way the Holy Spirit would have let us known about
it (John 14:26; 16:13; II Timothy 3:16,17).
2. We havenít been commanded to observe Christmas, and we are
only commanded to teach men "to observe all things" that Christ has commanded
3. There are many false, irreligious, and pagan things tied
in with the observance of Christmas which are incompatible and antagonistic
to Christianity (Psalms 119:104; Ephesians 5:9,10; Philippians 4:8).
AND THOSE 31 DEGREE TILTED
THE FACILITIES of the
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, appropriately dubbed the "World Center
of Racing," are very interesting. We are told the whole area takes in 450
acres. The massive grandstands, overlooked by a 15-story tower, will seat
100,000 people. NASCAR conducts two races here each year, while 8 are run
altogether. There is a 2.5 mile tri-oval, and a 3.56 mile, road course.
On the race track, turns like 2 and 4 have an awesome 31 degree high bank.
Racing cars have to be going at least 75 miles an hour just to keep from
turning over. When the turn is completed, the bank tilts back to 9 degrees,
which one would think would be less intimidating. Not so, this is a very
dangerous part of the track as it drops off so fast. There is not as much
air pressure underneath the car. The driver must be on his toes to avoid
disaster. He must indeed be a careful driver. (And as a footnote thought,
there are between 42 to 44 laps before pit stops.
Being a Christian, this information immediately drew our attention
to another race. No, we are not talking about the materialistic rat race
that we witness every day. Rather, thoughts come to mind of the race every
Christian must run in living the Christian life. Paul uses the illustration
of racing more than once, and says, "Let us run with patience the race
that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). This race is not run in competition
with others; rather, all who finish the course will be winners (II Timothy
4:6-8). The race must be successfully completed.
Carrying this illustration of a race a step further, and finding
a parallel in the DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, we find there will be
many tilted turns. Like the 31 degree turns that require a continued speed
of 75 miles an hour or more, lest the car overturn, we must press on in
the Christian life. If we slow down or stop when the going gets rough,
or is less than smooth, it will be disastrous. To stop is to flop. We will
turn over, fall, and crash our Christian life. Then when we are coming
out of such trying experiences, we must keep a level head to keep from
veering off the track (even as the race car driver enters the less tilted
9 degree bank). The pit stops are necessary, too, if we are to run the
rugged course of this life as a Christian. We need the Lordís church, Godís
Word, and one another to win the race.
Let us press on (Philippians 3:13,14; I Corinthians 9:24-27). Victory
is for all who actually finish the Christian race (Revelation 2:10).