Our Authority Is The Word

By Dan Gatlin

Jesus said, “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (Jn. 12:47-49). Since we are to be judged by the words of Jesus, we must follow everything that He tells us to do. If we should add to or subtract from His words, we will give an account on the day of judgment.

Before His ascension, Jesus instructed His disciples to teach “them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). In Jn. 16:13, Jesus told the disciples that they would be guided “into all truth.” This guidance would come from the Holy Spirit and, as such, would come from the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:10). We will be judged by the words of Jesus, but also by the rest of the inspired writers of the New Testament.

Continue reading “Our Authority Is The Word”

The All-Sufficiency of the Church

Cecil Willis

“And such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:4, 5).

This is the sixth article in this series on All-Sufficiency. Previous articles have dealt with the All-Sufficiency in Worship, and the All-Sufficient Mission of the Church. Succeeding articles will discuss the All-Sufficiency of the Church in Evangelism, Edification and Benevolence. However, before we begin these more specialized studies, we would like to consider the general theme, “The All-Sufficiency of the Church.” We remind vou that by “All-Sufficiency” we simply mean wholly adequate, completely capable. The church is wholly adequate, completely capable, all-sufficient for every purpose God had for it.

Continue reading “The All-Sufficiency of the Church”

Let the Church Be the Church

Ron Halbrook

God’s eternal plan of salvation is summed up in Christ and the church. “All spiritual blessings” are “in Christ,” who is “the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:3, 22-23). This is “according to the eternal purpose” which God “purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). All men must be members of the universal church to be saved. Jews and Gentiles are reconciled “unto God in one body by the cross” (Eph. 2:16). The universal church has no earthly headquarters or other institutional organization on earth with officials, a treasury, and assigned missions. It simply refers to our spiritual fellowship with Christ as our Savior and head, nothing more, nothing less.

Christians must be active, faithful members of the local church. The first thing we read about the first Christians is this: “And they continued in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). When the newly converted Saul came to Jerusalem, immediately “he assayed to join himself to the disciples” (Acts 9:26). The local church has its own organization to do its own work: elders to oversee, deacons to serve, and all members to participate (Phil. 1:1).

Continue reading “Let the Church Be the Church”

A Profile of the Liberal and The Conservative

Ken Marrs

Whatever the issue, the liberal and the conservative stand fundamentally at opposite ends to one another. Clearly, these “labels” come with some fairly emotional baggage, and at times have even over-shadowed the issue(s) at hand. Yet, neither of these “words” is perfect or perhaps even completely understood by the other. I believe a good heart and a better understanding of some of their respective tendencies would help to bring together the best in both of them as well as to eliminate the worst.

Continue reading “A Profile of the Liberal and The Conservative”

Churches—God-Centered or Man-Centered?

by Sewell Hall

Religion by its very definition would seem to involve God. The word godly means Godcentered. However, there are those who practice a religion that is all about man rather than God. To say that such religion is godly is not to say that it is wicked, but simply that it is not centered in God. Jesus described such people in his day in the words of Isaiah: “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). Paul writes of those who are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” while at the same time “holding a form of godliness” (2 Timothy 3:4-5). Jude describes some who are in the church, but are “ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Why would ungodly individuals continue to profess religion? Some do so, “supposing that godliness is a way of gain” (1 Timothy 6:5). Others, like Diotrophes (3 John 9), love the preeminence that they have attained in the church. Or, like the rulers of (John 12:43), they may love “the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Contrasting Churches

Local churches may be led either by godly or by ungodly men — that is, by men who are most concerned for God and things of the Spirit or by men whose concerns are primarily human and temporal. Such churches can be distinguished by the following:

Goals: Godly leaders have as their goal “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things unto Him who is the head — Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-15). Men whose thinking is not dominated by God have as their primary goal increasing numbers — a big church. They consider numerical growth proof of God’s approval.

Doctrine: Godly leaders are determined to abide in the doctrine of Christ and not to go beyond it (2 John 9). Not godly men, knowing that most of the public “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4), provide the teachers that will tickle their ears.

Discipline: Godly leaders will insist that, in harmony with God’s instructions, the church “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly” (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Ungodly leaders advertise: “Come as you are” and boast that they are not judgmental, receiving everyone regardless of lifestyle.

Worship: Godly leaders insist that God be worshipped “acceptable with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28) while ungodly men place great emphasis on “worship” that pleases the public and they seem concerned only that everyone leave “feeling good about themselves” and eager to return. Preachers: Godly leaders are not nearly as concerned with excellence of speech or of wisdom as that preachers be “determined not to know anything…save Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Ungodly leaders insist that preachers be entertaining and personally popular, even with the world.

Activities: Godly leaders test every proposed action by all the scriptures, determined to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17), while ungodly leaders offer whatever people want — sports, entertainment, education, feasts, travel – with little apparent concern for what God wants.

Testing Ourselves

The Bible blesses those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). By contrast it condemns those who have “pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Our taste in churches will help us determine which we are. How will a person who has “pleasure in unrighteousness” feel about a church whose goal above all other things is to remake him into the image of Christ, whose doctrine is “the apostles’ teaching,” a church where he is put on notice that he must live a godly life or be disfellowshipped, where worship is designed exclusively to please God, where preachers preach only the word of God — reproving, rebuking and exhorting — where activities are altogether spiritual? On the other hand, how will one who is hungry and thirsty for righteousness feel about a church he visits where he receives nothing but entertainment, where the “sermons” are little more than jokes and pop psychology, where sin is never rebuked, sinners never convicted or exhorted, and where activities are the same as those offered at a public school, theater or country club. What kind of church are you seeking — the church of your choice or the church of God’s choice? A godly church or an ungodly church?

“Patterns” in the Scripture

by Phillip Owens

In the Old Testament

Early in Scripture we learn that God placed a premium on obedience and punished disobedience (Gen. 2:16-17; 3; 4; et al.).

God expected His people to do things exactly how He said to do them. He told Moses, “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furniture thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Ex. 25:8,9). At the conclusion of those instructions, God warned, “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown on the mountain” (Ex. 25:40).

Continue reading ““Patterns” in the Scripture”