Is one church as good as another?

This question is fraught with danger. To begin, the word “church” is understood by some to mean a denomination of one sort or another. For others, the word “church” refers to the building.

The English word “church” can mean building, but in a New Testament context it does not mean that at all. For instance, in Acts 11:22 (ASV) the Scripture reads, “And the report concerning them came to the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas as far as Antioch.” A building does not have ears!

Again, notice in Acts 15:22, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.” The word church in this context is not Paul, Barnabas having chosen to work alongside the “brick and mortar,” but certain members of the local church to travel with them. Continue reading

Do I have to be a member?

Have you heard that question before? It is likely you have, or some variation of it. How do you answer? Here is a conversation that is not that far from something that might actually take place.

“Do I have to be a member of your church to go to heaven?”

“I don’t have a church.”

“You know what I mean! I am talking about the church where you attend.” Continue reading

The Reformed doctrine of faith alone

The Reformed Doctrine of “faith alone” is a cornerstone of protestant theology. This cornerstone, however, is put in place by inserting into Scripture a term that does not exist, building on it a man-made theology, such as the sinners prayer, God’s sovereign choice of salvation apart from one’s free-will and interpreting the word “works” to refer to either God’s commands or to anything that a person might do (otherwise).

One advocate of faith alone theology wrote, “I won’t defend the truth of justification by faith alone in detail, but it’s clearly taught, for example, in Romans 3:28: ‘A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.’ Or, as Paul teaches in Romans 4:5, ‘God justifies the ungodly.’ Both Abraham and David were justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 4:1–8; Gal. 3:6–9).” [1]

It is my intent, in this article and the next, to address these passages, noticing the context and how it does not support to teaching “faith alone” and, finally, give some attention to James 2.

This is no small matter. Continue reading

#doctrine, #faith-alone

What good is it?

What good is it to call oneself a Christian and yet find reasons to not attend the service of the Lord’s church wherein saints gather together to worship the Lord? The many who identify themselves as Christians and fail in this area are Christian in name only, not in heart. They think they will be received by the Lord because of some semblance of attendance and some semblance of “the Lord knows my heart.” Surely, they think, “I am in better position than you might think I am.” Really?

Compare what you think with what the Lord said (as in the Charles B. Williams translation).

“Let us continue so to consider one another as to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Let us stop neglecting our meeting together, as some do, but let us continue to encourage one another, and all the more because you see that the great day is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Those who love the Lord consider one another in their attendance, desiring to stimulate others toward faithful service and good works, glorifying the Lord. Those who love the Lord do not neglect their attendance.

The word “neglect” is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it to mean to give little attention to, to give little respect, to leave undone or unattended. Those who fail to regularly attend the services of the Lord’s church are guilty of exactly this, the words of denial not withstanding!

What good is it to be called a Christian and fail to meet with the saints because the kids have activities “to which I have to get them!”? What good is it?

It is only good in one’s mind, but not certainly the Lord’s mind. Those who love the Lord memorialize Him in the life lived. RT

#attendance, #priorities, #worship

A difficulty that needs to be addressed

Reflect on Proverbs 18:19 for a moment or two. As you look at the three translations below, it is easy to see that each version conveys the same idea. To separate oneself from another by thought, words and/or actions makes for a difficulty that must be addressed.

The KJV read, A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. The ESV reads, A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. The NET reads, A relative offended is harder to reach than a strong city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a fortified citadel.

What does the word “offended” mean? We are not to understand the word to mean “What she said offended me!”  Instead, what is in view is something much different. One Hebrew scholar used the word “wounded” in this context. A wounded person is one who had been attacked. Another scholar gave this sense, “The proverb is talking about changing a friend into an enemy by abuse” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary-Revised). Continue reading

#offense, #sin, #unity

The Righteous Requirement of the Law

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4, ESV)

1. What could the Law of Moses not do? It could not save; it was not designed by God to save (Acts 13:39). The Law of Moses was not designed by God to bridge the gap between man and God. The Law of Moses was designed by God to show the nature of sin (Rom. 3:20) and those guilty of sin will be punished (4:15).

2. However, it is not God’s desire that any perish (2 Peter 3:9)

3. God bridged the gap with His gift to man, His Son (John 3:16); His Son (Jesus) condemned sin in the flesh (Hebrews 2:17-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

4. It is my view the righteous requirement of the law is best understood in relation to John 6:44-45 and Galatians 3:24-25, tied in with Paul’s earlier words in Romans 1:17, justification by faith.

5. Justification by faith means one walks in accordance with faith (Romans 10:17; 2 Cor. 5:7) because there is a clear realization of man’s nature, a nature that cannot bridge the gap between himself and God (cf. Romans 7:24-8:1).

#justification, #law, #romans

Have you been to Jesus?

In Acts 4, we read of the account of two men standing before the religious leaders of the day, an occasion that was not taken lightly by any that were involved when such a thing like this occurred. The religious leaders not only had moral force, but they could apply a heavy dose of peer pressure, even criminal indictment when the situation demanded it. Acts 4, from their perspective, was such an occasion.

There was some murmuring going on amongst the people, and when they learned about it, those in charge arrested those guilty of causing this disturbance (that is, Peter and John). The disturbance was only in relation to the healing of a man lame since his birth, but the troubling aspect of this disturbance was in direct relation to Jesus, God’s anointed (chosen) one, one who was actually rejected by many of the Jewish people. Rejected as he was, they killed an innocent man.

Still fresh on their minds, the man Jesus and that which He taught, they resolved: “This has to stop!”

After having been arrested, the Lord’s servants were standing before those in judicial authority, being called to give an account of what they did and why. Peter and John stood tall. They gave a direct answer, and then a pertinent application for them (those in authority and the whole community): the authority by which they operated was the same authority they rejected and killed. One day they were going to stand before Him and be judged. This was impressive and insulting to those making inquiry (Acts 4:13). Continue reading

#courage, #life-in-christ