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The truth about sectarian christianity

According to the apostle Paul “God is not the author of confusion” (I Corinthians 14;33). Yet, today, there are hundreds of sects of “Christianity” all claiming to follow Jesus Christ and most if not all have a variation upon that theme. Is this how God wants it? Is this a “true and undefiled religion” (James 1:27)?

Listen to this preacher, Michael Hatcher and see if his lesson answers those questions.

Thought for the week

I Shall See God

Job, that ancient patriarch and prophet issues forth words of confidence that the grave is not the end of life with these words: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27). How could this man, whom modern scholars wrongly consign to a people of superstition and ignorance, know about a redeemer who would buy back his soul in an all too obvious resurrected form? I say obvious because the man himself says his skin will be destroyed. Could it be that the Hebrews’ writer has, among others, Job in mind when he pens, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1)? Could it be that Job, like his fellow patriarch Abraham, was confident of mind “… that God was able to raise… even from the dead…” (Hebrews 11:19)? The answer to these questions is the same as that recorded in faith’s chapter of fame in Hebrews 11 that each of the faithful have these precursory words “By faith” attached to their actions. By faith Job knew there would come a time when a High Priest will come and sympathise with our weakness because he would be tempted “as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15) and therefore have all the necessary qualifications to redeem. By faith Job knew as the only way to please God, for “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6), for this it has always been “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; cf, Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:17).

Our confidence in the resurrection is boosted by this man of knowledge so-much-so that we, too, “shall see God” by following the words of Christ “…whom [God] hath appointed heir of all things…” (Hebrews 1:2). He is the “chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (I Peter 2:6). The apostle Paul maintained that the resurrection was at the heart of the Christian faith. He questioned the futility of some by taking on the way without this fundamental objective in mind by saying, “if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (I Corinthians 15:13-14). Paul’s confidence was firmly entrenched in the resurrection of a man’s soul with these words: “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus… For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Corinthians 4:14; 5:1). This should not surprise us since Jesus emphatically promised such to those worried they might not find the way home to heaven, for after assuring them He was going to prepare for them a place to reside in the resurrection, He promised, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). Oh, and just in case you need a little more reassurance then, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27). For the apostle Paul, the resurrection of Christ is solid proof that He will indeed keep His promise, for he says that Christ not only appeared to the twelve apostles but “…he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (I Corinthians 15:6-8). Jesus said he that “seeth” (John 6:40) is one that is able to discern God is proved as unchangeable in the past (Hebrews 6:17) and will prove unchangeable in raising the faithful to an imperishable state in the future according to I Corinthians 15:33, for we that “seeth” trust by faith in the witness of God’s word that “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

The ancient paths of the Bible conscript men and women of faith in all dispensations to testify of the resurrection’s reality. Just as they had faith and confidence in seeing God so too, we, through faith can confidently say, “I will see God”.

Graham

Thought for the week

Comparing Theology With What The Bible Actually Says

I want to ask you, with all due respect, have you been duped by religious theologians regarding the purpose of baptism? The line that follows may be familiar with you: salvation is by faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), not as a result of being baptised. If you believe this to be true, then the scriptures the Holy Spirit moved men to write in the first century (II Peter 1:21) are at serious odds with this all too familiar statement. Please, with an open mind, consider the following scriptures:

Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Jesus said this is the “gospel” that must be preached (v.15). Parsing the text will reveal that faith i.e. “believeth” and full immersion in water i.e. “baptized” is not only a one time combined action but precedes the rescue from sin i.e. “saved”.

Who are you going to believe; the theologian or Jesus Christ?

Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Jesus leaves instructions on how one is to be taught in order to become a disciple of Christ, for Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Conversely, if one does not abide in the word of Christ but say in some other’s teaching they cannot be said to be in Christ (cf II John 9). The “twelve” at Ephesus found this out when they met the apostle Paul in Acts 19:1-7 and were consequently instructed to leave John the Baptist’s instructions for they had been superseded at the time the twelve obeyed them (cf Mark 1:4 John taught a “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” applicable to the Jews prior to the cross upon which the instruction subsequently died along with the law and the prophets, Colossians 2:14). When the twelve “heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). Wayne Jackson has well quoted Danker’s 2005 Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: the phrase “in the name of” signifies to “become the possession of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear.” These men had faith in John which Paul said must change to faith in Jesus then be baptised into Christ if they are to be saved.

Now, whose word is authority regarding baptism; the theologian or Jesus Christ and His apostles?

Acts 2:38 “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” The delinquents who had within the past 50 days done to “that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified” (v.36) been convicted by the Holy Spirit inspired sermon preached by Peter and realised their guilt. They wanted to know what they needed to do to be forgiven for doing such a heinous thing. Repent and be baptised and as I noted before it is a one time combined action that precedes forgiveness that God promised to bestow. Clearly, the theologian is at odds with the grammar and implications of this verse and will even go as far as to say so. A.T. Robertson, a well respected Baptist theological word scholar had this to say: “One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission” (Robertson Word Pictures).

However, who would you much rather believe, the theologian with traditional bias or the apostle who was moved by the Holy Spirit whose promise was “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13)?
Acts 22:16 “…arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord”. Paul is here recalling the events that occurred to him on the road to Damascus (cf Acts 9:1-19). It is three days since his encounter with Jesus and he is busy “praying” (Acts 9:11). Here we see a picture of a believing man yet; clearly an unforgiven man for his sins had not yet been washed away. What is going to wash away his sins i.e. make him a saved disciple of Christ? Why it is baptism. In fact the verse says the act is to call upon the name of the Lord, “the answer of a good conscience toward God” says Peter in I Peter 3:21. For God to declare via Ananias that Paul needed to be baptised in order to be forgiven yet then have that same Paul, according to theologians, declare salvation is by faith without the need for baptism is “not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14) and smacks of hypocrisy and partiality both of which are condemned by God (cf Matthew 23 et al; Acts 10:34).

Who is more trustworthy in respect of the truth about baptism; the theologian or the scriptures themselves?
Romans 6:3-4 “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.” Clearly, baptism is a symbol of the grave that figures the death of the old man of sin and heralds the new man raised up, forgiven i.e. “newness of life”. Note: just as God raised up Jesus, so too, God raises up the forgiven but only after baptism.

To ignore the clear statement presented here is to take sides with the theologian rather than the plain, simple metaphor presented by God’s ambassador.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation is a result of God’s grace and man’s faith. Paul also states in Ephesians 5:26 that salvation i.e. “cleanse” is a result of “the washing of water by the word”. The use of water is conceded by commentators including John Calvin, Thayer, Danker and even the Baptist theologian A.T. Robertson as referring to full immersion which is the proper rendition of the transliterated word, baptism. Besides, Ephesians 2:5 says Christians are those who “were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ”. The word “quickened” means “to be alive, have intelligence” and is therefore the opposite to being dead. This verse corresponds exactly with that which Paul mentioned to the church of Christ in Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:12 where Christians are those who have been “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

Ask yourself the question, who is more reliable to give you the answer to what you must do to be saved; the theologian who cannot bear the thoughts of being wrong regarding his or her traditional thought on the matter or the Bible writers guided to write down the very thoughts of God Himself?

There prevails in so-called mainstream Christianity a theological bias that overwhelmingly denies the Holy Spirit moved men who spoke and wrote the word of God (II Peter 1:21) regarding the essential ingredient and purpose of biblical baptism. I implore you, dear reader, to shrug off this man made tradition that theologians have embraced and hold close those scriptures I have mentioned and many others that for brevity sake have not been mentioned.
When Jesus opposed the Devil in Matthew 4:1-11, He says Scripture speaks with loud authority over and above that of any theologian’s pen. Take a cue from the noble people of Berea (Acts 17:10-11) and examine and study the Scriptures I have presented to see if these things are so.

Graham Walker, Timaru 10 June 2010

Thought for the week

New Opportunity

Every now and then a new opportunity comes along that has the potential to set you alight with enthusiasm. Recently I have had just such an opportunity. It involves promoting the concept of motivating parents to finance their children for future higher education so that one day their children may have the opportunity attend some form of tertiary education later on in life via a scholarship provided through the interest from investments that a vast membership is able to provide. This is even more important in this day and age where successive governments are cutting grants and charging parents with the responsibility of providing for their own children to attend higher education along with the resultant ever increasing burden of student debt falling on the shoulders of an already worried job seeking graduate. I believe the concept to be wonderful and much needed for I testify along my wife that we became members of this society some 15 years ago for the benefit of our youngest son who will now use the contributions we made over the years to fund his poly tech course next year. What I think is really neat is that I now have the chance to encourage other young families to also think ahead using the same not-for-profit friendly society that runs the programme in my country which is, by the way, the only organisation to do so in New Zealand.

Now Paul had a similar concept in mind for the church situated in Colossae only his thought was for motivation to obey the gospel and the spiritual well-being that comes as a result. In Colossians 4:2-3 his desire is for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be spread so that many others may enjoy the fruits of eternal life in heaven along with the Divine Godhead and the throne of obedient throughout the ages. This, he believed, could be accomplished by praying to God that “God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ.” You see, it is only through the word that can we know why and how we need to be saved because “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The word received is that which saves (James 1:21) from which man finds the only way in which the burden of sin may be lifted from his shoulders.

A new opportunity exists and abounds every day to motivate us to this higher thought; the trick is to take that motivation and use it to benefit souls for eternity.

Graham

Thought for the week

One Place I Don’t Want To End Up In

As we say in New Zealand, gidday, how are ya? Hope you are having a great day.

I’ve been thinking, just as I’m now on the cusp of reaching the age of sixty, that I feel somewhat fortunate to have attained such a mile stone. I mean to say, there have been many instances where I have dodged the proverbial bullet, so to speak. Like the time I was driving home to Wellington forty ton all up and drizzling with rain on the treacherous Desert Road (Central North Island, New Zealand) when around a bend in the road I come across a minor accident scene. I pass cautiously noting the unfortunates mulling over their plight when out of the blue an empty logging truck towing its trailer appears over the brow of the hill in front of me. The driver sees the accident scene in front of him and naturally hits the brake causing the trailer to jack-knife in the slippery conditions. The trailer is coming straight for me. I instinctively pull to the left and all I see is the rear of the logging trailer slide by my right hand mirror then neatly slide down the combing rail of the semi I am pulling, cutting half a dozen tarpaulin ropes as it goes by. I stop at the top and pause to reflect upon what was a close call. I was milliseconds from certain death, that I am certain. What then had I died? What would be my destination, Heaven or Hell?

By that stage in my life I had obeyed the gospel call to listen to God’s word, for that is where faith in God is formed (Romans 10:17). I believed in Jesus Christ as my Saviour to set me free from the awful effects of sin of being separated from God for eternity (Isaiah 59:2). Christ set me free because I obeyed His command to repent of my sins (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30), confessing before men that Jesus is Lord; that is, He will rule my life because in my heart I know from many eye witness accounts (I Corinthians 15:6) that He is risen from the dead (Romans 10:9) but not before I was baptised in order for my sins to be remitted; that is, have them washed away by His blood through the act of a watery burial which occurs when one is fully immersed in water (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7). As I stand outside the truck and survey the scene of near death, I am in Christ; a son of God; a member of His church, the one and only place to be if one is saved (Acts 4:12; Galatians 3:26-27; I Corinthians 12:13; II Timothy 2:10). I stand confident my eternal home is with God and along with all those faithful to God’s commands throughout the ages.

However, just a little over a year before hand it would have been a different scenario had I died, for as one who was ignorant of God’s word I, like billions of others of accountable age before me, would rue my eternal fate that can be summed up in two sets of passages. The first is Luke 16:19-31 where a certain rich man died and lifted his eyes up in a place called Hades describing his condition as “torments”. Christ uses a Koine Greek word that simply means torture i.e. extreme pain. The man is conscious and alert and is even able to communicate with the father of faith, Abraham expressing his utter grief at what besets him (v.24). He has none to blame but himself for if he had obeyed “Moses and the Prophets” then he would be with his neighbour Lazarus over on the other side.

The second passage is truly frightening, for Paul says there is an expectation “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thessalonians 1:7-9). That would have been me folks because prior to August 23, 1985 I did not know God and therefore had not obeyed Him. I, too, would have been in the certain man’s predicament had it not been for my listening and consequent obedience to God’s word.

Now, this place of “torments” is one place I do not want to end up in and I am certain you don’t want to end up there, either. Fortunately, you are alive and well because you are now reading this. If you have not already taken the certain man’s advice in Luke 16 that he wanted his brothers to hear i.e. obey God in order to avoid the place of torment he found himself in, then I urge you without delay to seek and find a faithful church of Christ near you. Sit down and hear, believe, repent, confess and then be baptised in order to have your sins “washed away” before it is everlasting too late.

Graham

Thought for the week

Ok, so where am I going wrong?

The sometimes testy subject of fellowship is on my mind this week. I say “testy” because fellowship circles in the church invariably bring with it issues associated with error. Let me explain by way of a theoretical example.

A brother in Christ who has for years been revered as having an exemplary record regarding biblical study by upholding the Pauline call to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15) and lived life in pursuit of “righteousness, faith, love and peace” (II Timothy 2:22) then, out of the blue, with inexplicable audacity publically serves up a lesson from a “different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). One is left wondering, “What gives?” So with grace and humility words are exchanged “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6) over an extraordinary length of time not just by me but many faithful brethren seeking to correct ‘if God perhaps will grant them repentance” (II Timothy 2:24-26) but, alas, to no avail. To this day he remains defiant even accusing correctors of being dishonourable and inciting division.

Now, having pursued a course of “proving all things” as true and correct from the scriptures to show the errant one’s departure from the truth to brethren who fellowship him via personal contact, using him in church outreach programmes etc. and endeavouring to point out with the same attitude displayed to the errant one that such contact and association is “sharing in his evil deeds” (II John 2:11), I and faithful brethren are the ones rejected and found to be dishonourable even to the point of misapplying II John 9-11. Have I misapplied II John 9-11? I do not believe so. A.T. Robertson, Baptist (1863-1934) says the text is dealing with those who progress beyond the doctrine of Christ not about Christ. Adam Clarke, Methodist minister (1762-1832) said, “He who passes over the sacred enclosure, or goes beyond the prescribed limits; and abideth not in the doctrine – does not remain within these holy limits, but indulges himself either in excesses of action or passion; hath not God for his Father, nor the love of God in his heart.” Which brings me to the title of this week’s thought for the week, where am I going wrong? Are you willing to help me out using scripture, of course?

Graham

Thought for the week

Standing For Truth

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life” (Winston Churchill – 1874-1965). Now, don’t you find it astounding that perfectly contented souls will all of a sudden erupt in fits of vitriol when you point out a Bible truth? One need only visit a debate forum on Face Book, Google or such like to see them go hammer and tong all because someone had the audacity to quote the Bible. The quote invariably goes against their perception of truth or perhaps the lifestyle they or someone they know has indulged in. The apostle Paul would, however, counter with this: “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). Yes, it is almost like one becomes their “enemy” all because God’s word which is the “truth” (John 17:17) was cited. The Bible believer must “not yield in submission even for a moment” (Galatians 2:5); rather, must continue to speak that “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
It should come as no surprise that these things take place for even Jesus, the Master teacher and counsellor said, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:45). My friends, if Jesus couldn’t persuade because of hardness of heart then we who stake our lives upon His truth ought to take comfort, for to repeat Churchill, “That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.”

Graham

Thought of the week

Preparation

As I sat in my favourite coffee shop drinking a cup of vanilla chai latte this afternoon, I watched many people going about their daily business and I got to thinking that many, of whom I feel certain, would be blissfully unaware that this life is a preparation for that which is to come. They were laughing and frowning; playing and toiling and just living life as though this is all life has to offer. But what if there is something more to this life as we know it?

The Bible tells man there is definitely more to life than that which he experiences in the here and now. The wise man said, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes” (Proverbs 16:2) but the God of the Bible thinks and says differently, for just as He warned the Israelites to “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12) so, too, the warning is just as relevant for man today to be prepared! John the Baptist said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). He was of course speaking of the realization of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) as foretold by Isaiah 750 years beforehand. This same Lamb of God says to “Repent or perish” (Luke 13:3). That word “repent” is given meaning by the Apostle Paul’s preaching as he recalls to King Agrippa in Acts 26:20 that men “should repent, turn to God and do works fitting to repentance.” That is to say, do due preparation to turn and meet God or you will, as Jesus says, “perish”.

What do you need to do in this preparation? Well, here is a web site that will be a good start: www.churchesofchrist.net/authors/David_B_Brown then click on “How to become a Bible Christian”.

God bless you as you travel and study through His word.

Graham

Godhead United In Word and Deed

In this week’s thought for the week let’s consider the unity of The Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who make the Divine Godhead of the Bible.

The idea that each of the Godhead is divorced of the thought and actions of the other is strange to say the least. For instance, some say that Jesus is love but God the Father is wrath. So, they suggest through implication that God the Father is not love, hmm!
This nonsense has grown, in my opinion, from the thought that people only want love and not the consequence of sin which is wrath.

To show that all three of the Godhead are united in all they think and do, let us consider three separate verses dealing with the topic of sanctification.

• Jude 1 “Sanctified by God the Father.” The Father sets the Christian apart.
• I Corinthians 1:2 “Sanctified in Christ.” Jesus sets the Christian apart.
• I Peter 1:2 “Through sanctification of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit sets the Christian apart.

Each of the Godhead is in total harmony regarding the sanctification of Christians which is just as true with all the other workings of the Godhead, for Jesus acts just as wrathfully (Revelation 6:16) as God the Father (John 3:36) as much as the Holy Spirit is just as grieved at sin ( Ephesians 4:30) as Jesus is grieved (Mark 3:5).

Jesus said in His prayer to God the Father “that they (the holy apostles GJW) 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 17:21). The purpose of Jesus’ words is to show He is united in thought and deed in order to create faith in unbelievers, for the opposite creates disorder and confusion which leads to faulty ideas such as this thought opened with.

God bless as you travel and study through His word.
Graham.

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