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November 23, 2008 AM


MT 16:16-19

INTRO: One of the great hymns which I have enjoyed over years of time has in it these words: "I love thy church, O God." The church has been so much a part of my life since childhood that I have difficulty thinking of myself apart from it. I do love the Lord's church. Were it not for the scriptures, however, I would have no knowledge of it. It is not something of which I can learn in nature. It is not something of which I can learn from human philosophy. All of the knowledge I have of the church of our Lord comes directly from scripture. Beyond scripture, anything one say or think is mere conjecture they value of which is certainly questionable. The scriptures, then, are completely sufficient in revealing the church.

    1. Mk 9:1 - Of what did people who heard these words think?
      1. probably not of the church which is familiar to you and me
      2. Acts 1:3,6 - "kingdom" brought to their minds Israel's Davidic glory
      3. but Jesus thought of "kingdom" and "church" as synonyms
    2. Other descriptive terminology?
      1. "body of Christ" - Col 1:18
      2. "the bride, the Lamb's wife" - Rev 21:9
      3. "the household of God" - Eph 2:19
      4. "a spiritual house" - 1 Pet 2:5
      5. "church of the living God" - 1 Tim 3:15
    1. Christ is its "head"
      1. Col 1:18 - "And he is the head of the body, the church..."
      2. He does not share this headship with any human agency
      3. as its head, He gives all direction (Mt 28:18)
    2. One becomes part of the church when baptized into the body
      1. 1 Cor 12:13 - "..baptized into one body.."
      2. membership does not depend on a scheme of human origin!
      3. when a believing, penitent person is baptized, he is added to the body of believers (so, Acts 2:41)
    3. The "saved" are in the church
      1. Acts 2:47 - "...the Lord added to the church..saved"
      2. if the saved are in the church, there are no saved out of the church
      3. this should help us understand the importance of the church to us
    4. Churches of Christ are congregations of such who are the saved
      1. Rom 16:16 - "..The churches of Christ salute you"
      2. scripture notes existence of such churches throughout Roman Empire
      3. these were not denominations of various origins, beliefs
    5. The churches were bound together by a common faith & practice
      1. 1 Cor 4:17 - " I teach every where in every church"
      2. 1 Cor 16:1 - churches believed and practiced the same things
      3. there was no earthly headquarters sending out edicts - no creedal statements of councils of men ... just inspired teaching (1 Cor 2:13)
    6. The local congregations did have a revealed structure within them
      1. Acts 14:23, Phil 1:1, 1 Tim 3:1,12
      2. each congregation was to be so constituted - 1 Tim 3:14,15
      3. yet, there was no organic tie such as a synod, council, society - such inventions as these came later and produced denominations
    7. The revealed "pattern" for the church was/is vital to its existence
      1. 1 Cor 11:2, 2 Tim 1:13,14
      2. 2 Tim 4:3,4 - such warnings as this abound in scripture
      3. if the pattern is not followed, that which results cannot be the church revealed in scripture!
    8. There is only one body, or church
      1. Eph 4:4 -"There is one body.."
      2. I am well aware this is a hard truth about which emotions run high
      3. but I did not and do not make the rules ... scripture reveals, and I must faithfully proclaim that which is therein revealed
      4. the Lord, via scripture, has given us what we need to know about the church and how it is to be constituted ... it is a pattern which can be followed in any place and in any age

CLOSE: Yes, there is much more to the revealed pattern than time has permitted me this morning. And I encourage you to read it for yourself within the pages of scripture. Are you in the body of Christ today? Have you been baptized into the Lord's body? If not, may I inquire in love, "Why?"

Cecil A. Hutson

23 November 2008

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)