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The Importance of the Plan

April 27, 2010

John Allan

“Hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptized.” If you regularly attend worship services of the Church of Christ you have probably heard those steps mentioned more times than you want to bother trying to count. You know it is commonly called God’s “Plan of Salvation” and you know those steps so intimately you might be able to utter them in your sleep.

Why is so much emphasis placed on the plan of salvation? Let us consider three reasons:

1. For the Non-Believer: By non-believer we mean one who has not obeyed the gospel. It is good that God’s plan of salvation be mentioned in every service so that one who has not obeyed can know the answer to the question “What must I do to be saved?”

2. For Children: We understand that until an individual has reached the maturity so as to be able to distinguish right from wrong and be held accountable for their actions that they are not lost. However, as children grow in knowledge and stature it is important that they be educated. For their sake we do well to emphasize the steps even if children have not reached that age yet. One day they will and we do well to prepare them.

3. For Believers: At services where all in attendance are believers we might think “Why bother talking about the plan of salvation?” Even in such a setting there is very good reason for its mention.

Rehearsing the plan of salvation (even when everybody in the audience knows it) provides reinforcement: it assures us that when we followed those steps we were obeying the gospel truth. It also prevents us from the risk of ever forgetting what the word of God has revealed to us with regards to the remission of sins. Do we need to remember that? Absolutely!

When the plan of salvation is mentioned and the Lord’s invitation extended it is not simply a cue for the audience to stop listening, pack up their belongings and get out their song books. It is a valuable instructional period worthy of attention.

Posted in The Church

Understanding Silence

April 16, 2010

John Allan

The topic of Biblical silence has been an area of intense debate for generations. Some believe that if the Bible does not specifically say you can do something then you cannot do it. Others suggest that unless the Bible specifically says “Do not do that” then you can go right ahead.

It is of interest and importance to know which view is correct. Is silence prohibitive or is silence permissive? The answer to this question is yes.

Determining whether silence is permissive or prohibitive is greatly aided by understanding the difference between generic and specific. In Mark 16:15 Jesus told the apostles where to go (into all the world) and what to preach (the gospel). However, he was silent on the method of going. Does that mean Jesus authorized them to go but did not authorize them to use any means of transportation? Certainly not!

The command to “Go” is generic. The apostles could use any lawful method to carry out the order. They could walk, run, sail etc. even though Jesus did not expressly tell them they could walk, run or sail. In a generic command such as this silence is permissive.

There are times, however, when silence is prohibitive. In Hebrews 7:11-14 the Hebrews writer is making the point that Jesus being our priest required a change in the law. Why? Hebrews 7:14 gives us the answer: “For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood” (NKJV).

The tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe under the Old Covenant; this was specifically ordered by God (Numbers 1:49-52). When God specified the Levites he therefore automatically excluded the other tribes. Silence was prohibitive because the charge was specific. Jesus, from the tribe of Judah, was prohibited from being a priest under the Old Covenant.

What have we noted, then? We have noticed that silence is neither always permissive nor always prohibitive. There are many things that the Bible does not mention specifically. Some of them are permissible because we see from Bible principle that they are permitted (ex: driving a car). Others are prohibited because God has specified exactly what He wants (ex: the specific command to sing forbids the addition of a mechanical instrument in worship).

It is intended that these words be helpful to us as we consider the significance of silence in the Bible. Any time we consider whether a matter is permitted by God or not we do well to consider it prayerfully and in light of what the Bible teaches: that is certainly true with regards to the area of silence.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Posted in Bible, The Church, Worship

Spiritual gifts

January 8, 2010

Blake Watson

It is not uncommon to hear a preacher or elder say that we should use the gifts God has given us. It is important to understand that when we talk about using the gifts God has given us we are not talking about the exercise of miraculous gifts.

There was a time in the early days of the Church when miraculous gifts were available. The apostles were able to impart these gifts. We know this was not an ability just any Christian had. In Acts 8:14-18 it was necessary for apostles to come from Jerusalem to impart spiritual gifts to the believers in Samaria. In that same chapter we see that a convert named Simon wanted to buy that unique ability and was rebuked by Peter.

There were many spiritual gifts present in those early days of the Church. Paul speaks of this diversity in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. In the very next chapter he makes it clear that the need for spiritual gifts would run its course. He said in 1 Cor. 13:10 “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Some believe “that which is perfect” refers to Jesus’ second coming, but that interpretation does not fit the context.

Paul asserted in verse nine that they did not have complete knowledge at that time, but would. “That which is perfect” is referring to the completion of God’s revelation to man. When all the information God intended us to have was revealed there would be no more need for methods that could only provide information “in part.”

Miraculous gifts are no longer available because they are no longer needed. Jude 3 tells us that the faith was once for all delivered. They are also no longer available because the apostles, the ones who had the ability to impart the gifts, have all died.

Since we do not have miraculous gifts today what sort of gifts do we have? We have human abilities that God has blessed us with. They are talents we can use to His glory. They were not endowed to us in a miraculous way, but they can be developed and put to good use.

God is pleased when we use the ability that we have. May that be our ambition today and every day.

Posted in Bible, Law, The Church

Is the church and the kingdom the same?

July 21, 2009

John Allan

The church is the spiritual kingdom of Christ on earth. The kingdom and the church have the same identifying marks. A study of the following scriptures reveals they are not separate institutions on the earth, but the same:

Usage Kingdom Church
Used interchangeably Matthew 16:19 Matthew 16:18
Comprised of saints Colossians 1:13 Colossians 1:2
Blood-purchased Revelation 5:9-10 Acts 20:28
Comprised of priests Revelation 1:6,9 1 Peter 2:5
Terms of entrance John 3:5 Ephesians 5:26 , Tit. 3:5
Memorial Supper Matthew 26:26-29 1 Corinthians 11:20-27
Glory & exaltation Isaiah 2:2-3 Ephesians 3:21
Time of deliverance 1 Corinthians 15:24 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Have the same owner John 18:36 Matthew 16:18
Set up David’s throne 2 Samuel 7:12-16 Acts 2:29-36
Began at Jerusalem Isaiah 2:2-3 Luke 24:47
Began in latter days Isaiah 2:2-3 Acts 2:17-47
All nations flow into it Isaiah 2:2-3 Mark 16:15-16
Time of establishment Daniel 2:44 Mark 1:15 ; Luke 3:1
Ruler over its inhabitants 1 Timothy 6:15 Ephesians 5:23
Reward for the faithful Matthew 25:31-34 1 Corinthians 15:58

The conclusion is obvious. The church and kingdom in this present age have the same owner, ruler, terms of admission, membership, memorial supper, etc. They are identical. Passages like Colossians 1:13 ; 2 Peter 1:11 ; Revelation 1:6,9 ; Revelation 5:9-10 along with many others make it abundantly clear that the promised Old Testament kingdom is now in existence! If one denies this fact based on the above scriptural evidence, then he is saying that Jesus was in error in Mark 1:14-15 and Mark 9:1.

Posted in The Church

Belonging to a church or added to THE church?

July 21, 2009

John Allan

Q: “I’ve heard several TV evangelists state that after an individual gets saved they should make an effort to join a good church. My question is, Does an individual have to belong to a church in order to be saved?”

According to the inspired Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20), the Lord “adds” those individuals to the church “as should be saved” (Acts 2:47 – KJV). Therefore, the church consists of saved individuals because “He [Christ] is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23 – NKJV).

The body is the Lord’s church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24) made up of “saved” individuals (Acts 2:47 – KJV). The church “He purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28 – KJV). There is only “one” body (Ephesians 4:4). The saved [Christians] — those who have been baptized “into Christ” (Gal. 3:27; cf. Romans 6:3-4), are members of that one body “in Christ” (Romans 12:5 – NKJV). Therefore, Christ is the Savior of only one body or church — His church (Matthew 16:18 – NKJV), “the” church of which we [Christians] are members (Romans 12:5 – NKJV).

The answer to the querist’s question then is “No.” An individual cannot belong to “a” church in order to be saved, but an individual does have to be added to “the” Lord’s church (Acts 2:47 – KJV; Ephesians 1:22-23 – NKJV), the one spiritual body mentioned in Ephesians 4:4 – NKJV, in order to be saved (Ephesians 5:23 – NKJV).

Posted in The Church

Uniqueness of the churches of Christ

July 21, 2009

John Allan

There’s something different and unique about the churches of Christ in your community — something that is worth investigating. These churches follow the New Testament teaching and pattern. They do not possess a “new” and “different” revelation. Nor are they able to know any “hidden” truths that other religious people do not teach. What do churches of Christ believe?

Christ Is The Absolute Monarch – (Matthew 17:5; Matthew 28:18-20)

Other religious groups wait for the decisions of their conference, synods, association, while members of the churches of Christ recognize Christ as the only absolute authority to settle any decision of the soul.

They Live Under Only One Religious Law Or Testament At A Time – (Jeremiah 31:31; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:6-7; Hebrews 10:9).

Since these passages teach that there was an “old law” and that there is a “new law,” it is to be recognized that the old law was nailed to the cross and that the new law of Christ is now in effect. To try to live under both laws is considered by Paul as spiritual adultery (Romans 7:1-4).

They believe that one can become “Just a Christian” – (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).

The early Christians were not “Catholic” or “Protestant” Christians, but rather they were just simply the “children of God” (Galatians 3:26), known as “Christians” (Acts 11:26) or “a Christian” (Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16) instead of being Gentiles or Jews (Galatians 3:28). Members of the churches of Christ believe it is still possible to obey all teachings of the Bible without belonging to any Protestant church or any Catholic church.

They intend to have a “Thus Saith The Lord” for all they do and say in the worship and work of the church

Since the Bible declares that worshippers ought to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17), give of their money (1 Corinthians 16:2), eat the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7), and teach God’s Word (Matthew 28:18-20), these people known as the churches of Christ endeavor to do just that on each Lord’s day.

There is no other religious body in the world that teaches these four principles. Many religious groups teach some of these, but there is no religious group meeting that can consistently follow these four biblical principles and still maintain their identity as a denomination.

If this is God’s truth, then we must follow it. If this is not the truth of God, then those who are members of the churches of Christ would appreciate your correcting them (by Scripture) where they are mistaken.

Posted in The Church

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