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Weekly Bulletin For:

November 17, 2017


2018 Calendar of Events

2018 Calendar of Events


The Greatness Of The Church

 

          The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it is composed of all Christians and of only Christians. The good news is that it is possible for people living today to be members of the church that you read about in your New Testament, the great church of Christ. The church of Christ is not just another denomination among denominations but is Christ's one, blood bought church. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 5:25) The church of the New Testament is so great that there is the need for only one church or one body. (Ephesians 4:4) We accept as our mission the responsibility to glorify God in this one body or one church. (Ephesians 3:21) One way that we give honor to our Creator is to carry out the great commission. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20) Those who become baptized believers have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27) They are added by the Lord to His one, great church. (Acts 2:47)

           This great church, the church of Christ is a body of people that respect the patterns found in the New Testament. (Acts 2) The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice. It is our purpose to glorify God; therefore we identify ourselves simply by the name Christian. Concerning salvation our emphasis is a Bible emphasis. People are taught to (a) Hear the Gospel (Romans 10:17), (b) Believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Acts 8:37), (c) Repent of sins (Acts 17:30), (d) Confess faith in Jesus as the Christ (Romans 10:10), (e) Be baptized into Christ, by immersion in water, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and (f) Live a righteous life before God and man until death. (1 Peter 1:14-16) Peter wrote, "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." We invite all obedient believers in Jesus Christ to join us in uniting on the New Testament way of salvation and Christian living.

           There are a number of pictures of the greatness of the New Testament church pictured in Acts 2:36-47. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' 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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.'  And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."  Let us reproduce in our day the great church that you read about in your New Testament.

     1. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it began and continues with its focus on Jesus. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36) Peter had proven that Jesus was the Son of God by His great miracle working ministry, His fulfillment of prophecy and His death, burial and resurrection. (Acts 2:22-35)

     2. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that Christ demands the hearts of all the members of His church. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) Those who are in Christ and those who are faithful in His church must love God with all their heart. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37) Nothing less than whole hearted service will please Jehovah.

     3. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it is made up of all those who repent are baptized. "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) Those in Christ and His church are received by God on equal terms, regardless of exterior circumstances.

     4. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that these are the people who have received God's promise of salvation through Jesus. "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation." (Acts 2:39-40) You, or anyone else, can be part of this body and can enjoy God’s salvation.

     5. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it started and continues with people who gladly receive and obey the gospel. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41) You personal Bible study and faith in God is of utmost importance.

     6. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was and is a learning church. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) Their service was not a Joel Osteen, feel good kind of service, but it was a service where there was reverence for God and His word was taught with conviction.

     7. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a praying church. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) David said, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." (Psalms 55:17) Let us imitate that spirit.

     8. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a reverent church "And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." (Acts 2:43) If the history of our nation is ever written correctly it will say these people knew little about reverence.

     9. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a united church. "And all that believed were together, and had all things common." (Acts 2:44) Our goal is to learn how to surrender to God and love Him with all our hearts and minds, and then to treat other people with that same love as we serve together in the one body of Christ.

     10. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a sharing church. "And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." (Acts 2:45) These are difficult times. When I think of the church I see a church sharing, reaching out to serve those who are in need, and especially serving other Christians.

     11. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it had Christian fellowship. "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46) In the New Testament, what is shared in common is shared first of all because of a common relationship that Christians have together in Christ.

     12. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a happy church. "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46) You always have problems when there is murmuring. "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." (Acts 6:1)

     13. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a growing church. "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47) Evangelism builds churches. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2)

           These are characteristics which makes it possible for other to see the greatness of the church. Our goal is simply to be Christ's church. The church of Christ is not a denomination; it is the kingdom of God. We are pleading for primitive Christianity just as it was before being polluted by men. To begin your Christian life hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3, confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. "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) After being washed in the blood of Jesus at baptism be among those that are blessed by serving as a faithful member of the one body or church of Christ.

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


Should We Display a Cross in the Church Building?

What Does the Bible Say About the Cross of Christ versus the Body of Christ?
 
The cross of Christ occurs 22 times (tree, 4 times) in the New Testament:
Mat 27:32, 40, 42
Mark 15:21, 30, 32
Luke 23:26
John 19:17, 19, 25, 31
Acts 5:30 (tree); 10:39 (tree); 13:29 (tree)
1 Cor. 1:17, 18
Gal. 5:11; 6:12, 14
Eph. 2:16
Phil. 2:8; 3:18
Col. 1:20; 2:14
Heb. 12:2
1 Pet. 2:24 (tree)

The physical body of Christ occurs 26 times in New Testament:
Mat. 26:12, 26; 27:59
Mark 14:8, 22; 15:43, 45
Luke 22:19; 23:52, 55; 24:3, 23
John 2:21, 19:38 (twice); 19:40; 20:12
Rom. 7:4
1 Cor. 10:16; 11:24, 27, 29
Col. 1:22
Heb. 10:5, 10
1 Pet. 2:24
 

What does Scripture command us to remember, reflect upon, or discern as an act of worship?
We are told to remember Christ’s body and blood in Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor. 11:24-29.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told to remember the cross, or tree, on which Christ’s body hung, as an act of worship.
Therefore, if there were a need to display a physical symbol during worship, logic would make it a crucifix, which has the body of Christ on it, not just a bare wooden cross.  
But we are not left to guess what physical symbols we should use in worship.

What physical symbols of remembrance do the Scriptures specify?
The Bible already specifies the physical symbols that we are to use in worship to help us remember Christ’s death on the cross.  
These are:
The Bread, representing Christ’s body (Mat. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:24, 26-29).
The Cup, representing Christ’s blood (Mat 26:27-28; Mark 14:23-24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:25-29).

Do any Scriptures authorize the display or use of physical symbols other than these during worship to help us remember Christ’s death on the cross?
There are none.  Therefore, adding any additional physical symbols would be going beyond the authority of the word of God.  
Some passages that address this are:

            Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

            Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

            Romans 10:17 …faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.       
And     Romans 14:23 …whatsoever is not of faith is sin. 

            Colossians 3:17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 


-The Elders, Austinville Church of Christ, 2833 Danville Road SW Decatur, Alabama 35603
 


The Church Jesus Built

          The church of Christ is not a physical building nor is it a denomination. It is the blood-bought body of Christ. Paul wrote by inspiration of God, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) At the end of time the church which is the kingdom of God will be delivered up to God, the father. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25) If you will do what the Bible teaches, the Lord will save you and add you to His church.

     The church Jesus built is made up of saved people. (Matthew 16:18-19) Jesus did not build a denomination. His interest is not in a physical building. The church of Christ is a living organism. It is composed of people saved by the blood of Jesus. If you have read your Bible you have read about the church of Christ. The church of Christ exists anywhere people follow the Bible and the Bible only. (Acts 2:38-47)

     The church Jesus built is God’s promised kingdom. (Daniel 2:44-45) The church is that kingdom which shall stand forever. The eternal kingdom was established in the days of the Roman kings. This was during the lifetime of some who heard Jesus speak. "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power." (Mark 9:1)

     The church Jesus built wears a Bible name which honors Him. (Romans 16:16) The name "church of Christ"  is  a  Bible  name  and  it  is a  name  big  enough to embrace all the saved. The Bible gives no specific name for the church. It does, however, identify the church with several Bible expressions. The members of this body are known simply as Christians. (1 Peter 4:15-16)

     The church Jesus built worships according to the New Testament pattern. (Acts 2:42) The day of worship is the first day of the week. (Acts 20:7) On each Sunday we sing (Ephesians 5:19), study God's word (Acts 20:7), pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18), give (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), and observe the Lord's Supper. (I Corinthians 11:23-26) Only these Bible things are done in worship! We cannot conclude our discussion of New Testament worship without looking at Paul's warning to the Colossians. The apostle warns them not to be beguiled by religious ordinances which are merely "the commandments and doctrines of men." He cautions that such ordinances "have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." (Colossians 2:18-22)

     The church Jesus built has no religious guide but the Bible. (John 17:17) Churches of Christ have no "creed books", "manuals", or "confessions of faith". Our only rule of faith is the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Wise men and women learn to obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him. There is nothing more important in life than following the teachings of the Bible and trusting God to care for your needs.

     It is in harmony with the Bible to use the name church of Christ, to call yourself a Christian and to accept Jesus as the only head of the church. It is scriptural to accept the Bible as your only rule of faith, to plead for unity in Jesus and to follow the Bible pattern in worship.  Those who follow the Bible are Christians, members of the church of Christ. 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


"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 Christpromotes 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 551GreenvilleAlabama 36037 USA


Welcome, Tony Edwards Family!

We welcome our new Minister of Local Missions, Tony Edwards, his wife Jennifer, and children Madison, Elexus, and little Tony to the Austinville church family!

 


Does 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Forbid Eating Meals in the Church Building?

What is the context of the entire book of First Corinthians?  Throughout this epistle Paul dealt with issues that were dividing the Corinthian congregation.

            He addressed divisions caused by respect of persons: “"I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."” (1:10-17).  Divisions caused by spiritual immaturity were addressed: “for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (3:1-23).  He covered divisions caused by tolerance of sin: “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” (5:1-13).  Paul also mentioned divisions caused by selfishness: “No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” (6:1-11).  Divisions caused by not considering the weak conscience of one’s brethren are dealt with (8:1-13).  He goes into depth on divisions caused by an improper view of spiritual gifts (12:1-14:40).  He also straightens out divisions caused by an improper understanding of the resurrection (15:1-58).

            Divisions were also caused by respect of persons and class distinctions.  This is Paul’s issue and topic of discussion in our subject text (11:17-34), not whether or not to eat in a church building.

The very text tells us they were “eating and drinking” a common meal in the building where they were assembled as a church (v. 20 & 21).   Unlike today, Sunday was just another work day in the first century[1].  After a hard day at work, a good evening meal was needed for strength before entering into worship to God.  Thus, the members met together and ate a common meal before worship[2].  The problem was not where they were eating this meal, but how they were eating: “For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.” (v. 21).  Apparently some members at Corinth were very well-off, others very poor.  When the wealthy ate to the full while the poor went hungry, it witnessed to even further division among them.  How could they afterward partake of the Lord’s Supper as one body, when they had just showed such disunity and self-serving behavior?  Better to eat before you come together than to openly shame your brother in Christ (v. 22, 33-34)!  Acts 20:7-12 makes it even more clear that the early Christians were eating in the same place they worshipped.

This passage is not condemning eating a common meal in a church building and is not recommending that they eat their meals only at home.  How can we be certain of this?  For at least two reasons: 

First, they were meeting in homes!  Where did the churches of the first century meet?  From the scriptures, we find that first century Christians met in one of the homes of the members of the church.  Priscilla and Aquila hosted one of the churches of Ephesus in their own home (Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19).  A brother named Nymphas hosted one of the churches of Asia in his home (Colossians 4:15).  Philemon hosted the church of Colossae (Philemon 1:2, Colossians 4:9).  The church being addressed in 1 Corinthians was meeting in a home of one of the members, Gaius.  If this passage forbids eating in the building where the church meets, where could Gaius eat?

Second, there were no church buildings in the first century!  The “church building” came along much later, around 300 years later than this text[3].  There is no way they could have conceived that the passage was barring them from eating in the building in which the church met and instead was recommending them eat at home.  A “church building” did not even exist, but they understood the contextual meaning of the passage.  It was not possible to eat the Lord’s Supper correctly after experiencing the class division and respect of persons the Corinthian church demonstrated when they ate a common meal together.  Instead, wait on one another (v. 33)!  Do not shame the less well-off with your largess by not sharing equally with them!  If such division exists (v. 21), better to fill your bellies before you leave home (v. 34), so that the unity that should exist during the Lord’s Supper be not violated (v. 20).

This is the meaning of the text: we are to observe the Lord’s Supper in the proper way. 

This passage has nothing at all to do with eating a common meal in a church building.

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

[1] http://aquilaelba.info/did-romans-recognize-weekends/

[2] Gospel Advocate Companion 2014-2014 (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Co., 2013), 24.

[3] http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/november/why-and-when-did-christians-start-constructing-special.html


The Church in the Bible

          It is possible for people living today to be members of the church that you read about in your New Testament. The Austinville Church of Christ is not just another denomination among denominations but is Christ's church in Decatur, Alabama. We accept as our mission the responsibility to glorify God in His one church. One way that we give honor to our Creator is to carry out the great commission. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20) The church of Christ is made up of believers who put Christ on by baptism. (Galatians 3:26-27)

          The Austinville Church of Christ is a body of people that respects the patterns found in the New Testament. (Acts 2) The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice. It is our purpose to glorify God; therefore we identify ourselves simply by the name Christian. Concerning salvation our emphasis is a Bible emphasis. People are taught to (a) Hear the Gospel (Romans 10:17), (b) Believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Acts 8:37), (c) Repent of sins (Acts 17:30), (d) Confess faith in Jesus as the Christ (Romans 10:10), (e) Be baptized into Christ, by immersion in water, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and (f) Live a righteous life before God and man until death. (1 Peter 1:14-16) We invite all believers in Jesus to join us in uniting on the New Testament way of salvation and Christian living. To accomplish this goal we must understand about the New Testament church.

1. The prophets spoke for God and predicted the church. "The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:1-4)

2. John said during his life that the church was near at hand. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1-2)

3. Jesus promised to build the church. He never broke a promise. "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:16-18)

4. Jesus purchased the church by shedding His blood for it. But, if he shed his blood by which men are saved and purchased the church, then the church and salvation are closer related than men think. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)

5. The 3,000 who were saved on the Pentecost following Jesus' resurrection were added to the church. When they were saved that made them members of the church for which Jesus shed His blood. It is by that blood that men are saved. (Acts 2:38-47)

6. Jesus is head of the same church that He built and only the church that He built and He is Lord over it. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23)

          Our goal is simply to be Christ's church. The church of Christ is not a denomination; it is the kingdom of God. We are pleading for primitive Christianity just as it was before it was polluted by men. To begin your Christian life hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. "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) After being washed in the blood of Jesus at baptism be among those that are blessed by serving as a faithful member of the church of Christ.

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


Characteristics of Christ's Church

It is possible for people living today to be members of the church that you read about in your New Testament. The Austinville Street Church of Christ is not just another denomination among denominations but is Christ's church in Decatur, Alabama. We accept as our mission the responsibility to glorify God. One way that we give honor to our Creator is to carry out the great commission. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 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. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20) This body of people is made up of baptized believers that put Christ on by immersion (Baptism) into Him. (Galatians 3:26-27)

          The Austinville Street Church of Christ is a body of people that respects the patterns found in the New Testament. (Acts 2) The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice. It as our purpose to glorify God, therefore we identify ourselves simply by the name Christian. Concerning salvation our emphasis is a Bible emphasis. People are taught to (a) Hear the Gospel (Romans 10:17), (b) Believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Acts 8:37), (c) Repent of sins (Acts 17:30), (d) Confess faith in Jesus as the Christ (Romans 10:10), (e) Be baptized into Christ, by immersion in water, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and (f) Live a righteous life before God and man until death. (1 Peter 1:14-16) We invite all obedient believers in Jesus to join us in uniting on the New Testament way of salvation and Christian living.

          There are a number of characteristics of the New Testament church pictured in Acts 2:36-47. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' 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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.'  And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."  Let us be the church of Christ in Decatur by reproducing those same qualities.

   1. The church of Christ started with its focus on Jesus. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both  Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36)

2. Christ demands the hearts of all the members of His church. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37)

3. The church of Christ is made up of those who repent are baptized. "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)

4. The church of Christ is those people who received God's promise of salvation through Jesus. "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation." (Acts 2:39-40)

5. The church of Christ started and continues with people who gladly receive and obey the gospel. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41)

6. The church of Christ was and is a learning church. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)

7. The church of Christ was a praying church. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)

8. The church of Christ was a reverent church -- "fear." "And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." (Acts 2:43)

9. The church of Christ was a united church. "And all that believed were together, and had all things common." (Acts 2:44)

10. The church of Christ was a sharing church. "And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." (Acts 2:45)

11. The church of Christ enjoyed fellowship. "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46)

12. The church of Christ was a happy church. "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46)

13. The church of Christ was a worshipping church. "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47)

14. The church of Christ was made up of people who were respected by others. "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47)

          These are characteristics which the Austinville Street Church of Christ is striving to possess. Our goal is simply to be Christ's church. The church of Christ is not a denomination; it is the kingdom of God. We are pleading for primitive Christianity just as it was before being polluted by men. To begin your Christian life hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. "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) After being washed in the blood of Jesus at baptism be among those that are blessed by serving as a faithful member of the church of Christ.

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


30 Years Ago...

the Austinville congregation assembled a church directory.  Now that it's on the church website, check out the '1986 Church Directory' on the Members Page.  Stir up some old memories!  See who was attending then.  Be reminded of those you may have known and those you might not have seen in a long time.  Enjoy!

To get there, click on the Members Tab, scroll down the right hand side, and click on the 1986 Church Directory Page.

If you don't have a Members Account yet, just click on 'Register Here' under the Members Tab to get access.


Why Are There So Many Churches???

Ever wondered why are there so many churches?

Was this in God's plan?  Does this please Him? 

Click the link below to find out:

Why Are There So Many Churches?


How to Find the Right Church

Enjoy this audio sermon in 'Sermons' under the 'Resources' tab!  Click HERE to go there!

 


The New Testament Church

      Jesus Christ established His church long before anyone ever heard of Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian or Jehovah's Witnesses. Today there are hundreds (thousands) of kinds of churches in existence. Men on men’s teaching founded these churches. Our Lord Himself established the New Testament church almost two thousand years ago.

      Jesus promised the New Testament church: "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)  Acts 2 gives the history of the establishment of the New Testament church.  The year that the church was established was 33 AD It is our prayer that you are a member of this same blood bought church!

      Jesus established the New Testament church in Jerusalem: The apostles were sent to Jerusalem to wait for power. (Acts 1:4-8)  The power came with the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4)  The gospel was first preached in Jerusalem. Three thousand people became Christians that day. The Lord added them to His church. (Acts 2:38-47) It is our prayer that you are a member of this same blood bought church!

      The New Testament church that Jesus established is in the world today. The New Testament church exists anywhere people submit entirely and completely to the teachings of the New Testament. People in Corinth heard, believed and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)  When this happened there was a New Testament church in Corinth. It is our prayer that you are a member of this same blood bought church!

      The New Testament church that Jesus established can be identified. Read what the New Testament says about names, worship, organization, membership and mission of the church. Christians must worship and work exactly as the word of God teaches. Membership in the New Testament church is enjoyed at the moment of becoming a Christian. (1 Corinthians 12:13)  Is the church where you have your membership the New Testament church?  Check by the New Testament and see. It is our prayer that you are a member of this blood bought church!

      The New Testament church is not a denomination. You can be a member of the New Testament church -- you can be just a Christian. The wonderful blessings of heaven should move us to obey the gospel and serve God faithfully. To obey the gospel one must hear God's truth (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Jesus as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to be saved. (I Peter 3:21) After baptism one must serve God faithfully to prepare for the heavenly home.

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


Jesus Built His Church

          If you have read your Bible you have read about the church of Christ. The church of Christ exists anywhere people follow the Bible and the Bible only. (Acts 2:38-47) Jesus promised to build His church. “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:13-18) The church is the Lord’s house and "Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it..." (Psalm 127:1) Jesus promised to build His church. Observe: (1) The foundation for the church -- "upon this rock," (2) The certainty of the building -- "I will build My church", (3) The owner of the church -- "I will build My church", (4) The nature of it of the church -- "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it", (5) The authority involved with the church -- "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." Jesus kept His promise and built His church. (Acts 2) He is both foundation and chief corner stone for His church.

          It was God's eternal purpose that men should serve Him in the one church that Jesus built. Both Jew and Gentile are reconciled unto God in one body or one church. (Ephesians 2:16) There is only one true church for all nations. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 4:4) This one body is also called the church in Colossians 1:18. The one true church was purchased by the blood of Jesus. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28) The church began on the Pentecost Day following the resurrection of Christ. On that day sinners were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) Three thousand people gladly received the word and were baptized. These people were added by the Lord to His church. (Acts 2:47) Are you a member of the church you can read about in the New Testament? Salvation and membership in the church of Christ is the same thing. You are not saved outside of the church. Today you can be a part of that same church that Christ built!

          Man needs a better understanding of and more commitment to Christ and His church. Sometimes the term church is used to describe all the Christians. In Hebrews 12:23 we read, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." A particular church or body of believers that met at a certain place may also be described with the word “church.” 1 Corinthians 1:2 reads, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." The church of Christ or the New Testament church was, (1) Called by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14), (2) Grafted into Christ by baptism (Galatians 3:26-27), (3) Made alive by the love of God (1 Corinthians 15:22), (4) United in a deep fellowship with other Christians (Acts 2:42), and (5) Molded into the image of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

          The connection between the death of Jesus and His church. There was no way for Jesus or His disciples but the way of the cross. "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day." (Matthew 16:21) Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about suffering, dying, and being resurrected. Jesus called him "Satan." "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:23) Satan was using Peter to speak a message to Jesus. Satan uses many voices today to have his message heard and to silence the message of God. We must understand the necessity of the church and its connection with the cross if we are to understand Christianity. Christianity would make no sense apart from the sacrifice of Jesus and His blood purchased church. What a shock it must have been to the disciples when Jesus told them that (1) He would suffer at Jerusalem, (2) That He would suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, (3) That He would be killed, and (4) That He would be raised again the third day. Jerusalem was the city of sacrifices where our Passover Lamb died for our sins. (1 Corinthians 5:7) John the Baptist had said "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Christ died to purchase and cleanse the church. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25) Christ is the Savior of the church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." (Ephesians 5:23) If a person is saved he is a member of the blood bought church of Christ. Salvation and membership in Christ's church is the same thing.

          Our commitment to Christ and His church must be strong. The challenge is simple. Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24) To deny self is to say no to self and yes to God. To deny oneself means to deny one's own idea and accept God's word as the only absolute truth. To follow Jesus means to learn of Him. To follow Jesus means to learn His lifestyle and to imitate it. To follow Jesus means that we must be a faithful part of His church. The greatest challenge of a lifetime is not the highest mountain or the fastest speed. The greatest challenge of life is to follow Jesus. This means that real sacrifices will be made for God. (Matthew 16:25) A true disciple gladly gives up all that he has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God. God expects you to give yourself. Anything less would mean the loss of your soul. (Matthew 16:26) The glory we give to God is given in the church. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21) Those that live for the glory of God will live forever and will receive that everlasting reward, eternal life.

          Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ? Our greatest privilege is to be in the blood bought church of Christ. To be saved you must hear the gospel, (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus, (John 8:24); repent of sins, (Luke 13:3); confess Jesus as Lord, (Matthew 10:32); and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) God will then add you, as a living stone to the church that Christ built.

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

The cross is the only ladder high enough to reach heaven!


I Will Build My Church

     One of the most profound statements in the Bible is Matthew 16:18. "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." Not many things are as misunderstood as the church. The church in the Bible was never a physical building, nor was it a denomination. The church in the Bible was always people saved by the blood of Jesus.

     The church in the Bible is made up of saved people. The church is a spiritual body of Christ composed of those that have heard the gospel (Romans 10:9-10), believed in Jesus as the Christ (John 8:24), repented of all sins (Acts 17:30), confessed Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and been baptized for remission of sins (Acts 2:38). The church is Christ's spiritual body made up of baptized believers.

     Some question the importance and place of baptism. Read these Bible words and then decide on the necessity and purpose of baptism:

     "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20)

     "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16)

     "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 2:38)

     "But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized." (Acts 8:12)

     "Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him." (Acts 8:37-38)

     "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days." (Acts 10:48.)

     "And he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized." (Acts 16:30-33.)

     "Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized." (Acts 18:8)

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

     "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)

     "There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:21)

     Those who gladly received the message of the crucified Lord were baptized. "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." (Acts 2:41.) These saved ones were added to the church. "Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47)

     You never join the Lord's church. You can however, join churches established by men. You can never be saved outside the Lord's church. He adds the saved to the church. (Acts 2:47) You can, however, be saved outside of any and all denominations.

     The church in the Bible is referred to as “one body.” The church was located in different places but it was the same church. The Bible speaks of "the church of God at Corinth." "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." (1 Corinthians 1:2) It also speaks of the church in many other locations, for example Galatia. "And all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia." (Galatians 1:2)

     Jesus prayed for unity to exist among His followers. "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." (John 17:20-21) What are you doing to protect and promote that unity?

     God plan for unity involves "seven ones" which Christians must endeavor to keep. "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:1-6) Among these seven is "one body." We are not left to wonder what the "body" is for God identifies it as "the church." "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23)

     God's plan is simple -- all believers united in one spiritual body, the church. It is in the church that one finds salvation through the blood of Christ. "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her." (Ephesians 5:23-25)

     The church in the Bible is neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish. Its members are not some "kind" of Christian. They are just Christians. "And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." (Acts 11:26)

     There is no privilege greater than that of be­ing a member of "the church of Christ." (Romans 16:16.) This is the body over which Christ rules as head. "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)

     This is the body which worships in "Spirit and in Truth." "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24.) New Testament wor­ship consists of prayers (Acts 2:42), giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), The Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26-28), teaching (Acts 20:7) and singing (Ephesians 5:19). The only instrument used in the singing is the "Heart."

     The design of worship is to please God. Most want worship that pleases self. True Christians worship so as to please God.

     Churches of Christ today have as their goal the practice of New Testament Christianity. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:11) It must be scriptural or churches of Christ refuse its practice. "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8-9) We invite you to join with us in the practice of first century Christianity in the twenty-first century.

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


I Want To Be In The Church That Is In The Bible

     Churches are every where to be found. Many people are members of some church or the other. It is not enough just to be in a church. I want to be in the church that is in the Bible. Denominations teach, whether intentionally or unintentionally I know not, that it is not necessary to accept and follow Bible teaching about the church. Most religious people never study and learn the scriptural nature of the church. All who believe the Bible must believe that God intended the church to be a present reality. In Matthew 16:16-18 we read, "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

     These are sobering New Testament truths concerning the church:

     The church was purchased with Christ's blood. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)

     The saved are added to the church that you read about in the Bible. "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47) 

     The New Testament church is singular in nature. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)

     Christ is coming back to receive the church and claim it as His own possession. "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:27)

     I want to be in the church that was planned by God. The church was not just some after-thought for God. He had planned and purposed it from eternity. Ephesians 3:10-11 says, "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." God planned a spiritual body in which both Jews and Gentiles could be "fellow heirs." The Bible teaches that Jews and "the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel." (Ephesians 3:6) The church is a fellowship of all redeemed people. "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Ephesians 2:13-19) The church in the Bible is made up of all people who are in Christ.

     I want to be in the church that was predicted by the prophets. Isaiah predicted that a kingdom for all races would be established in Jerusalem. "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord's house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:2-3) This prophesied kingdom is the church of Christ. The church was to fill all the earth. Daniel wrote, "...And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:35) It was also prophesied that God's kingdom or church would be perpetual. "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and con­sume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2:44)

     I want to be in the church that was established by Christ and belongs to Him. In preparing people for the kingdom John said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:2) The twelve were told, "And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10:7) The seventy went forth with the same challenge. They were to, "Heal the sick there, and say to them, The king­dom of God has come near to you." (Luke 10:9) The church was planned by God, purchased by Christ and was at hand during the preaching of John, the twelve and the seventy. The church did not exist in Old Testament days. It was not established in the days of Abraham or John the Baptist. The church of Christ was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was established in the city of Jerusalem. (Acts 2:1-47) As sinners gladly received God's word and were baptized they were saved and added to the church. (Acts 2:47)

     The church in the Bible belongs to Christ because: (1) He is its builder (Matthew 16:16-18), (2) He is its purchaser (Acts 20:28), and (3) He is its head. (Ephesians 1:22-23) The church or kingdom came in the lifetime of some who heard Jesus speak. "And He said to them, Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power." (Mark 9:1) The church or kingdom came with power on the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2:1-47.

     I want to be in the church that has so many wonderful relationships with Christ. Jesus Christ is the foundation for the church. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:11)

     Christ is the builder of the church and no one has the right to change His house. "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)

     Jesus Christ is the owner of the church. Ob­serve the expression "My church." (Matthew 16:18) Jesus alone has the right to make laws for the church. The church should not be ruled by a pope, council, convention, or any assembly, but rather by Jesus.

     Jesus purchased the church with His blood. "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) The church of Christ is a blood bought body. This shows that the church is both important and essential.

     Christ is also head of the church. "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) Christ is head and as such He directs His body. As head of the church He is preeminent.

     Jesus Christ is also Savior of the church. "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body." (Ephesians 5:23) Christ saves His church and only His church. Outside of the church of Christ there is no promise of salvation. Are you a faithful member of the church that Christ promised to save?

     Is Christ's true church in the world today? Yes! When the word of God and only the word of God is planted in honest hearts the one and only church of Christ is produced. Obey the gospel today. Hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:1-5) Take upon yourself the name of Christ. Glorify God in His one church.

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


God Answers Common Questions

  1. Is the Bible sufficient to save?  John 8:31-32; John 12:48; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:14-17
  2. Is salvation for all?  Acts 10:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9
  3. Won't everybody be saved?  Matthew 7:13-14; Matthew 7:21-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  4. Why won't everybody be saved?  Matthew 18:2-3; John 3:3, 5; John 8:24
  5. How can a man be saved? John 1:12; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Peter 3:21; Luke 9:23
  6. Does one have to be a member of the church to be saved?  Acts 2:47; Ephesians 5:23, 25-26; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:15
  7. Can one be saved in any church? Psalms 127:1; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:3-6; Colossians 3:15
  8. Can a saved man ever live so as to be lost?  John 15:4-6; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 2:1; 2 Peter 2:22
  9. When should one be saved?  Ecclesiastes 12:1; Matthew 6:33; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Acts 22:16
  10. Why should one not delay his salvation?  Proverbs 27:1; Mark 13:32-33; John 9:4; James 4:13-17

As preached by David Powell at Austinville Church of Christ (Romans 16:16)


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


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