Meditating on the Word
“In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2
“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com
Vol. 14 No. 14 September 21, 2014
The Beginning of
In the New Testament, Christians, when spoken of as a group, are referred to as “the church.” Paul explained that “the church” was Christ’s spiritual body on earth (Ephesians 1:22-23). In that same book Paul said that there was just one body (Ephesians 4:4). If Jesus established just one church why do we have hundreds of churches among us?
Man-Made Churches Foretold
The Holy Spirit foretold that Jesus would establish only one church, and He also foretold that men would break away from that church and establish “churches” that Jesus did not establish. “The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith” I Timothy 4:1. When they fell away from “the faith” – the truth — the one church, they became something other than the church. They formed a man-made denomination. Paul also explained, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” II Timothy 4:3. When they left “sound doctrine” they found someone who taught them what they wanted to hear. Therefore, they formed a “man-made denomination.” Many times these departures began in the church thus Paul warned, “From among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” Acts 20:30. Men in the church began speaking “perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” When people followed those false teachers, they formed man-made denominations.
History Records These Departures
Jesus’ church was established in 30 A.D. in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 2. Church history shows that as time went on various changes began to occur in some of those churches. Because more and more changes occurred, they became a church that was different from the church one reads in the New Testament. By the fifth or sixth century those departures resulted in the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. Although the true church was small it was still present, but the Roman Catholic Church, became the dominate “church” for hundreds of years. In 1054 there was a split in the Roman Catholic Church and another man-made denomination formed – The Greek Orthodox Church (or “The Orthodox Church”). These two denominations remained the dominate churches until the Protestant Reformation Movement began in the 16th century. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, numerous Protestant denominational churches came into being. At first the founders of these Protestant churches did not intend to start new churches, they just wanted to “reform” the corruptions that they saw in the Catholic Church.
In 1517 Martin Luther nailed a paper with 95 doctrines he saw wrong with the Catholic Church on the door of the Wittenburg, Germany church building. This was the beginning of the Protestant Movement. He was a Catholic priest and did not intend to establish a separate denomination, but the Catholics forced him out of the Catholic Church. By 1530 Luther’s followers formed the Lutheran Church. In 1534 the Presbyterian Church was established. About this time the Church of England, which later became the Episcopal Church in America, was formed. From that time forward one man-made denomination after another began, usually, coming out of one of the other denominations that had already come into existence.
Can We Find the New Testament Church?
Even in the midst of the hundreds or thousands of man-made denominations, one can find, and become a part of the New Testament church. This is done by studying the New Testament church as revealed in the Bible to see what they believed and practiced. For example, what kind of baptism did they practice? What kind of worship did they offer to God? What kind of organization did they have? Until one finds a church that does exactly as the New Testament church, one has not found the Lord’s church. What that New Testament church believed, preached, and practiced are identifying marks to help us find the Lord’s church today.
Does It Matter?
Jesus taught that what church one is a member of does matter. He said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted” Matthew 15:13. He is not talking about vegetation, He is talking about organizations. God planted only one church. Every man-made denomination will be rooted up. He is going to save only one church (Ephesians 5:23). Paul stressed the importance of what churches teach when he said, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:9. Jesus also said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” Matthew 7:21. Notice that one who is going to heaven is the one who does the will of the Father. The Father established only one church which preaches one gospel, and offers to God as worship only what Jesus has authorized (Colossians 3:17). Are you part of that one church? If not, you are part of that plant that is going to be rooted up in the day of judgment. Compare the church of which you are a part and see if it matches the church one reads about in the New Testament. If it does not, you are in a man-made denomination. Let us assist you in finding and entering that one church!
The Hand of God
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). The mighty hand of God is all powerful. It can bring down the proud and haughty. On the other hand it can exalt the humble. Ever since the beginning of time, the mighty hand of God has been touching and shaping the lives of men. That hand is seen in so many marvelous ways. It is the hand of creation (Gen. 1, Psalms 19:1), of providence (Psalms 139:1-10, Rom. 8:28), of safety (Psalms 46:1, Heb. 6:18-19), of correction (Heb. 12:6-11), of direction (Psa. 23:2-3, James 1:21), of protection (Psalms 91), of consolation and comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4, Rom. 15:5-6).
Throughout the Bible and even in our lives today, we see the hand of God as it moves silently and swiftly in all these marvelous ways. Perhaps, most importantly though, his hand is the hand of salvation.
The most often quoted passage of the Bible simply says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”-John 3:16. Paul tells us that while we were sinners, the Son of God died for us-Rom. 5:8. John tells us to be impressed with the love God had for us that we should be called the sons of God-1 John 3:1-3. Peter assures us that God does not want anyone to be lost eternally but wants all to come to repentance-2 Pet. 3:9.
His hand knocks at the door of every man’s heart desiring to come in but he will not with his hands open that door. Man must open the door and let him in (Rev. 3:20, Rom. 1:17, James 1:21). “From sinking sand He lifted me; From shades of night to plains of light, O praise his name, He lifted me”.
If in this life we will hold on to the unchanging hand of God, one day the morning will come when we put off these earthly bonds and fly away to God’s celestial shore and there live forever with the redeemed of all ages.
I love to sing, “Time is filled with swift transition-Naught of earth unmoved can stand – Build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.” Today, we can and do read about that wonderful city of God that lies beyond the bounds of this earth (Rev 21 and 22). One day I want to view that city from within. How about you?
Rest and Then the End
Good Morning Everybody! Typically I just pass on the daily devotionals that I come across but this morning I am passing on something that struck me as I was finishing up my study of the Book of Daniel. In the last verse of the book of Daniel (Chapter 12:13) God tells Daniel “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” If you were Daniel how awesome would it be to hear those words from God. Daniel was going to die but was promised he would receive God’s heavenly home.
As faithful New Testament Christians we have that same promise from God. Mark 16:16 says “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” That is God saying “Do you Believe?” “Yes Lord” “Have you been baptized?” “Yes Lord” “Are you Faithful? “Yes Lord” then “You will rest (unless I come first) and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance!” Have a great Day!
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