By Russ Earl
Everyone at some point in their lives try to “find their place in the world”. This is a common phrase and idea that many use when deciding what they “want to do”. Those who are still in junior high, high school and college try to decide not only who their friends should be but how they should spend their time and, for those that are old enough, what job they should hold.
What does the world offer to influence you in these areas? When we say “the world” we are referring to those are not New Testament Christians. The world offers friendships that involve sinful activities: drugs, sexual activities outside of marriage, pressures to be dishonest, the use of foul language, selfishness and the pressure to condone other wicked lifestyles. The Bible however says things such as these will only separate a person from God. Notice what Peter says “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” 1 Peter 4:3-5. God warns that those involved in such things will have to give an account to the Him who judges all.
While the pressure and drawing power of such things may be strong we must remember that such pleasures of this world are only temporary. Moses was wise enough to recognize that such pleasures are short lived and that it’s much better to live for God than to live for temporary pleasures. Remember the words of the writer of Hebrews “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,” Hebrews 11:24-25. Worldly pleasures and the hardships one faces when trying to abstain from sinful activities do not compare to what God has to offer those who love Him. This is what Paul was referencing when he spoke of hardships, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Romans 8:18.
The question remains, what does God have to offer? Christ provides the answer “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10. This is accomplished by a life of faithfulness to Him who is only filled with goodness, righteousness and love. “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5. God offers not only forgiveness of sins and eternal life as a result of obedience to Him, He also reminds us that we do not need to worry about material things. Unlike the world, God & His Son do not pressure us to gain earthly possessions. Consider the what Christ says “And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” Luke 12:15. While the world says you need this and that to be happy Christ says the opposite. He says life is more than possessions. The man with the “most toys” does not win. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:19-21 that the sinful actions of this world do not provide happiness and will separate us from God. Those who belong to Christ do not do such things but instead live for Him “And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” Galatians 5:24.
Our true place in this world is in the body of Christ because outside of His body there is no hope only spiritual death. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” Revelation 22:14-15. Therefore, let us do what God requires of us to have our place in the Heavenly home that awaits the faithful.
By Toney L. Smith
One of our most beloved gospel songs is Tell Me the Story of Jesus. The song speaks of the life and works of Jesus Christ. As the song says, it is “the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.” It is precious and sweet because it tells of Jesus and His sacrifice for our salvation.
Chapter one reveals Jesus (pre-incarnate) before He became flesh. There has never been a time when He was not in existence. When the universe was barren, Jesus was an important part of creation’s plan (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17). Before He became flesh, He was deity, an equal part of the Godhead. Jesus is said to be the word (John 1:1-3), and that word took on human form, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).The story of Jesus tells how He descended the heavenly stairway to be the savior of all men. He came from heaven to do the will of His Father (John 3:17; 10:10; Luke 19:10).
Chapter two shows us the incarnate Immanuel. The word Immanuel means, “God with us” or “with us is God.” He would be born of a virgin, thus taking on the attributes of a human being (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26- 35). All men needed justification, because all have sinned (Romans 3:23). God had a plan for our salvation. Christ came from heaven to be our sacrificial Lamb (Galatians 4:4-5; Mark 1:15). Christ emptied Himself of His glory and demonstrated a life of service (Philippians 2:5-11). In the flesh, He experienced sorrow (John 11:35), temptation (Matthew 4:1-11), torture and rejection (John 1:11, Mark 14:50; Matthew 27:46). Jesus, who knew no sin, died because of our sins (1 Peter 3:18).
Chapter three reveals Jesus in Paradise. Nailed to the cross, Jesus cried, “it is finished” (John 19:30). This statement meant that He had completed His given task. He had said to the repenting thief, “… Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). He would be buried and raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4). The story of Jesus assures victory to the faithful child of God. Everyone will taste of death (Hebrews 9:27; Job 30:23). However, God has promised a day of resurrection for all (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The faithful will enjoy and obtain victory over the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Chapter four tells of Jesus the risen Savior. This chapter continues the narrative of the risen savior. This fact further verifies the words spoken by Christ (John 2:19; 1 Corinthians 15:4). We sing, “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes, He arose a victor from the dark domain…” He then showed Himself to certain disciples for 40 days (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). During this time, He gave the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:36-40). After these thing Jesus ascended back to heaven from whence He had come (Acts 1:9-11).
Chapter five of this story pictures Jesus as the exalted King. In Peter's sermon in Acts 2, we read the summation of Christ's life. This teaching concludes with Peter telling the Jews that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Just imagine what that homecoming would have been like! The Son of God returns to His divine realm (Hebrews 1:3). To this very day, Jesus sits upon His throne still ruling His kingdom, the church (Colossians 1:13).
Chapter six will present Jesus as our righteous judge. Make no mistake; there will be a day of judgment for each of us. We cannot determine just when that day will be, but none of us will miss it. The time of that day is to be determined by God the Father (Matthew 24:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1- 3). He will come “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). We must all appear before the judgment seat (Matthew 25:31-34).
Chapter seven reveals things after judgment. Jesus will deliver up the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24); the last enemy will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26); Jesus will Himself be in subjection to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28); and the saved will be in their eternal home (Revelation 22:1-5). There is a “crown” waiting for all faithful children of God (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Revelation 2:10).
This is a beautiful story. It reveals the amazing truth of God’s love for mankind.
There are various events that take place throughout the religious world. The Christian no doubt receives notices and invitations of such events. This raises the question, is it permissible to participate in joint activities with any of the denominations? I think it’s important to define what makes a denomination.
A denomination is a religious group that abides by traditions, creeds and doctrines of men rather than the Word of God (Mt 15:9). These teachings become clear in worship, what is taught concerning salvation and other areas. It’s also important to note that a congregation that wears the name “church of Christ” can also become a denomination if they have departed from the teachings of Christ and the pattern found in the New Testament (2 Tim 1:13).
Since a denomination is a religious group that teaches things that are in opposition from what we find in the Word of God, it is only logical to conclude that the same teachings will be found and promoted at their various events. This brings up the question “Why would the Lord’s church join in with, thereby condone, false teaching?” The Bible warns about having fellowship with those who teach doctrine that is contradictory to God’s commands. Consider what Peter says: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1-2). Since denominations teach that which is false they fit the group of people to which Peter was referring.
The Lord’s church cannot go along with teaching that will separate man from God. We are told to have no fellowship with denominations, but instead to expose such “unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph 5:11). A congregation can have no fellowship with denominations without accepting, condoning or ignoring the false teaching of such groups.
It’s just innocent fun! I see no harm in it. What’s the big deal? These are just some of the questions and statements you may hear when discussing joining in activities with denominations.
One must remember that part of a being a part of the Lord’s church is recognizing the dangers of partnering with those who teach damnable error. It continues to be astonishing the amount of people who fail to see the dangers in such things. Is having fun worth condoning error and appearing like “just another denomination” worth it? Is it worth it if we fail to see the harm in it? Is it worth it if we say it’s not a big deal, it seems innocent? The church is not separate from denominations to be harsh, rude or unloving. The church is separate from denominations because we understand that what denominations teach is harmful to the soul of man.
Instead of joining with denominations in their events why not plan activities at our local congregations that provide opportunities for us to teach the truth? Why not invite children and teens to biblical sound events that provide a time of learning Bible truths and fun, so long as learning Bible truths is our priority.
If the Lord’s church begins attending and/or become a joint-partner in denominational events, then we begin down the path of becoming a denomination ourselves. When this happens, we are no longer the Lord’s church, we are no longer pleasing to Him, and we no longer will have the hope of heaven. Is it worth it?
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