Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Role of the Church

What is the role of the church? This is a very good question. In the society in which we are living today many have become confused about what the role of the church really is. But this is certainly not a new issue, for the Lord’s church has become divided over the past several years because of man trying to redefine what the role of the church is to be. When we look in God’s Word to find the answer to the question then it becomes very clear. Let’s look at some scripture that shows very clearly, what God has instructed as regard to the role of the church.

We can learn from 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 that the church has the responsibility to preach the gospel. Paul writes: “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” In addition, the church is to edify each other through working and worshiping together (Ephesians 4:11-16). Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” The church is also to give benevolent assistance to needy saints (Acts 11:27-30). That is what the Bible clearly teaches. If we would stick to what God has instructed for us to do then we would not be divided over the issues that have crept in over the years (Revelation 22:18-19; 2 John 9).

Where Is SCRIPTURAL Authority For Recreation?
I have never understood why Christians on one hand claim to be striving for heaven, but on the other hand will not ensure that they look to God’s Word for guidance on all that they do, say, or teach on a matter. Because of this serious error, many Christians have allowed themselves to be drawn away from practicing true righteousness and into doing things that seem good and right in their own eyes. That is why recreation has crept into the local church and has split the Lord’s people.

We can NOT find anywhere in the Bible, authority for the local church to engage in recreation. Can you find where there is established Bible authority for building recreational facilities such as gymnasiums, “fellowship halls”, or the like? Can you find anywhere in the Bible that the early church sponsored sporting teams, or used camels (buses) and donkeys (vans) to transport their teenagers to Jerusalem World (Astro World) or to snow activities at Mt Ararat (Copper Mountain). It is alright for families to do these things, but I’m talking about the work or role of the church to do these things.

Just because the Bible may be silent on these things does not give us permission to do these things as a church. But you know what, we do have more than silence to go on for some of these recreational things. The Lord, through Paul told us what He thinks about the local church making these activities a part of the church’s work. “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you” (1 Corinthians 11:22). Then later in verse 34 Paul says: “But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment...” Here we see that the Corinthian congregation (the local church) had perverted the Lord’s Supper and to keep this from happening again Paul wrote to them to keep the family activities (such as the common meal) at home, separate from the work or role of the church.

In the area of food and fun, it is good for Christians to get together and have a good time while enjoying a meal. But it is NOT the work of the local church to sponsor these type of activities. Before the church can ever engage in something it must have Bible authority. Church division occurs when we do things which God has not previously authorized. We can all agree what the work of the church is because we can see it in the Bible. We have become divided because many have added things to the work of the church that was never authorized or intended to be part of the local church work. Sadly, many search for a congregation in which to worship with  that provides the most fun and entertainment. All Christians striving to enter heaven and “doing the will of the Father” (Matthew 7:21), should seek out a congregation of the Lord’s people that are sincerely standing for what is right, honest, and authorized by the Word of God.  Are you making sure that you are serving God the same way He has instructed the first century Christians to do. If you are, then you understand what the real “Role of the Church” is.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Progressing Toward Spiritual Maturity

We read in Isaiah 44:4 that God’s people will “spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.” Our Christian walk should be a walk that desires to be pleasing to God first and foremost. When this happens, then we will see growth and maturity take hold in our life here on earth. Every one of us should have a constant desire to progress toward spiritual maturity in all aspects of our life. There are several areas in our life that God wants to see us mature and develop in. These are:

1)  Fruitfulness: “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). God asks that we share his word with others. This is something that should be on all of our hearts. We should look for opportunities to share the good news to those we come in contact with. 

2)  In Christ: “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).  “that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). In order for us to mature in Christ we must learn what a good work is (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17). When we speak “the truth in love,” we are growing in Christ because we are speaking His truth and we are doing it in love, caring for the soul of another. 

3)  In Love: “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). The true Christian test of life is whether one can show a genuine love for the brethren. For us to be able to mature in the sight of God, this is something that all of us must possess. As Paul stated, it is also an area in which we need to continue to increase. There is nothing that takes the place of loving and caring brethren who genuinely look forward to seeing and being with each other at every opportunity. May we all grow in our love for one another!

4)  Unto Perfection: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). The word “perfection” means “completeness.” Once we have learned the truth of God’s word and have been obedient to the gospel, we should then progress onward to maturity, not returning to the basic elements again. We need to learn to be teachers (Hebrews 5:12-14), and the only way to do this is through the word, having a desire for God’s word in order to grow to completeness. Peter writes, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). When we are “perfect” or “complete,” then we will never stumble (2 Peter 1:10). In order to progress to this point we must strive to put all the characteristics mentioned by Peter to use in our life. We must add “ virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

5)  Grace and Knowledge: “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). When we learn and understand the great gift that God gave us in His Son, then we should be motivated to grow in the knowledge of our Lord. The more we know, the better we can defend the gospel and spread the gospel. Jesus wants us to know Him as He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). We need to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord.

In conclusion, our spiritual maturity will be realized when we put away childish things from our life (1 Corinthians 13:11) and begin to cultivate an understanding of the word (1 Corinthians 14:20). If we will follow the example of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13, 15; Philippians 3:15), and partake of the deeper truths of the gospel (Hebrews 5:14), then we will be able to overcome any temptation that is cast our way (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 2:14). When this happens, then it will be obvious that we are pressing toward maturity in our Christian life. It may then be said of us: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Churches Looking for Preachers

Non-institutional churches of Christ are welcome to post an ad on my web site if you are looking for a preacher. To post an ad for "Churches Looking for Preachers"  and also "Preachers Looking for Churches" please go to the two pages of the web site designed especially for this purpose. Churches who are looking for preachers can now go to and click on the "Churches Looking for Preachers" link and fill out the easy form to submit your information. The listing will be updated on the web site within 48 hours (usually the same day). This information will be kept current so that churches and preachers can have confidence that these listings are accurate and up to date. I would appreciate it if you would let any churches who are looking for a preacher know that this site is available for them to place their posting. Thank you.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Our Personal Responsibility

Christians have a serious responsibility to ensure that we continue to do only those things in which God has authorized. The apostle Paul said: “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Knowing that we will stand before God in judgment, we better make sure that we are doing ALL of the Lord’s will. Fathers today need to have the same kind of attitude that Joshua had when he said “...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). When we first decide to do the Lord’s will (Matthew 7:21; 6:33), then we are on our way to being the kind of responsible individuals that God would want us to be.

For What Are We Responsible?
We are responsible for several things and these include but are not limited to knowledge, faith, words, teaching, conduct, influence, and stewardship. God may have overlooked the ignorance of long ago but He now commands that all men repent and be determined to follow Him (Acts 17:30). We are also responsible to gaining faith and the only way to do that is by “hearing” the word of God (Romans 10:17). James 2:14 says: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” One that has a genuine Bible faith is one that will prove his faith by his actions (works). Since we will give an account for the things we say (Matthew 12:36-37), it would behoove us to ensure that we say only those things that would be pleasing to God. We show that we are responsible when we become obedient to those who have rule over us (Hebrews 13:17). Our conduct is another area in which we can show how responsible we are. If we do those things in which we know are good and pleasing to God, then we are practicing our responsibility toward Him (James 4:17). Then of course our influence shows whether or not we have learned our personal responsibility (Romans 14:12-13). May we all strive to learn individual responsibility so we can be pleasing to God in all aspects of our life.