6 things Jesus TAUGHT in His last week

Jesus spent His time on earth teaching and preaching. From the very earliest days He was found in the Temple hearing and asking questions, and all that heard were amazed at His answers (Luke 2:46-47).

Throughout His ministry He is teaching. Even when He saw the 5,000 that followed Him, having compassion on them, He TAUGHT them.

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34)

Therefore, it should be no surprise that He was seen teaching even up to His last days on Earth.

During His last week He was in the Temple teaching amidst those who sought to take His life.

What was it that Jesus TAUGHT them that still has application for us today?

“And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt 21:12-13)

1) When Jesus TURNED over the money changers tables and cast out those that bought and sold in the TEMPLE, He is teaching us a lesson about proper authorized worship. In the New Testament age, the church is His TEMPLE (1Cor 6:19). We are to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). There is a right way and a wrong way to worship. He TAUGHT that it’s possible to have vain worship (Mark 7:6-7). It would behoove us to learn what it is to properly worship Him in our lives, but also when we gather together as a church. (Acts 20:7; 1Cor 11:17-34; Heb 10:24-25)

“The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?”

(see Matt 21:23-27).

2) Jesus TAUGHT that there are only 2 sources of AUTHORITY; from above or from below. We must understand this lesson today. Jesus has ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on Earth (Matt 28:18). He is to have the preeminence in our lives (Col 1:18). He is the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1Tim 6:15). Therefore, we are to study His word to know what it is that He commands for how we are to speak and act (Col 3:17). (cf. 1Cor 1:10; 2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-10)

“But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” (see Matt 21:33-46)

3) In this parable, Jesus TAUGHT a lesson that covers much of OT history and ultimately a lesson about UNITY with God. The record of the bible shows that God desires mankind to be UNITED with Him through His Son, and His word, but the world, and the children of Israel, would not. Today, we are UNIFIED through Christ into one body (Eph 4:3-6). We cannot expect any UNITY with God, any peace, unless we keep His commands. Many folks say there’s unity in diversity of doctrines. This contradicts the word. God is not an author of confusion. (1Cor 14:33; see Col 2:14; Heb 7:12; 9:16-22)

“And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.”

(see Matt 22:1-14)

4) In this parable, Jesus TAUGHT about the Kingdom of Heaven. Many are called, but few are chosen. Even those who respond to the call, if they don’t have the proper GARMENT, they will be rejected. The only way to understand this is by seeing what it is we are to put on and how. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27). People claim we are to ‘ask Jesus into our hearts.’ Not so. We are to put on Christ in water baptism through faith. (see Acts 2:38; Col 2:12; 1Pet 3:21)

“Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” (see Matt 22:23-33)

5) In the challenge from the Sadducees, Jesus TAUGHT about the proper way to HANDLE the word of truth. It’s possible to make an error, be mistaken, and be lost because we don’t know the scriptures on how to be saved and how to live a godly life. (see 2Tim 2:15; 3:15-17)

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (see Matt 24)

6) Jesus was asked about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Since then, many have wrested this text to predict the end of the world when Jesus would return (1Thess 4:13-18). A careful reading will show what Jesus actually TAUGHT about the TIME of His return. Notice what He said regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt 24:34). It’s very clear that much of what He said would occur within the lifetime of those who were hearing Him.

But of that day and hour…” The day of His return to Earth to gather the saints, to destroy the world, and to judge all nations, “…knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt 24:36; see 2Peter 3:10; Dan 2:31-45).

Close) Jesus TAUGHT throughout His life even up to His last moments. It makes me think about myself and the myriad of loved ones who do not know God and have not obeyed the Gospel. Shall we try to teach them?

— spencer

Spencer has been preaching in Borger Texas since 2014.

the BLIND that did not know

It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble. It’s What You Know for Sure That Just Ain’t So.”

The origin of the above quote is unknown, being attributed by most to Mark Twain. Regardless of who came up with this quote, God teaches this principle in His divine word, and is being exemplified in peoples lives continually. What does this quote mean?

It means that there are some that are so confident in what they know, but do not know that what they know is false.

In other words, folks act on erroneous information as if it’s accurate. This gets them into trouble. They’re BLIND to the truth, believing a lie. (cf. 2Thess 2:10-12)

Samson is a clear example of this principle of being BLIND. “And she said, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free. But he knew not that Jehovah was departed from him

(Judges 16:20) (ASV) [emph mine seb].

What we learn from this passage, and others I’ll show you, is that it’s possible to know for certain a lie is true. Samson KNEW that the Lord was with him, but DID NOT KNOW that the Lord had departed from him.

To say it another way, it’s possible to be separated from God and not know (feel) it. Feelings are no evidence of salvation.

Here are 5 more examples from scripture of those that DID NOT KNOW the Lord was not with them, they’re BLIND.

BALAAM (Num 22:34). As Balaam went with Balak’s men against the will of God, he did not know that the Angel of the Lord stood in the way to slay him. But his donkey did. Upon seeing the Angel of the Lord Balaam said, “I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.” Lesson from Balaam; it’s possible to be headed toward death and not know it.

LAODICEA (Rev 3:17). In the letter to the church of the Laodiceans Jesus says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Lesson from the Laodiceans; It’s possible to be successful, content, and feel secure and not know that you’re actually not secure at all.

ISRAEL (Num 14:41-44). After God denies them entry into the promised land for their disobedience, they make an attempt to go in. Moments earlier it would have been a good idea, but God had already given a new command. Moses even warns them saying, “Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.” Lesson from the children of Israel; It’s possible to want to do what you think is “good,” be warned against it, ignore the command of God and lose.

NONE of God’s counsel (Prov 1:28-33). “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:  They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.” What is the lesson from this Proverb? We fail to be with God, even though we call on His name, when we ignore His instructions. This helps us understand Matthew 7:21-29.

DOOMED for Destruction. (2Thess 1:8-9); “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” People who claim to be agnostic or atheistic will not have “I didn’t know” as an excuse. God has revealed Himself and the gospel of His Son to all, but not all believe and obey (cf. Acts 14:17; 17:23-31). Lesson from this passage; Saying “I didn’t know” will be no excuse.

It’s possible to not know the Lord has departed from you.

How are we to KNOW if God is with us? How CAN we KNOW and have assurance of salvation? We have to read His revealed word, make an examination of what it says to do and obey it (James 1:22). The Apostle John wrote; “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1John 5:13; 1:1-2; cf. John 20:31; Eph 3:3-4; 2Tim 3:15-17)

— spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the church of Christ that assembles in Borger Texas.

We’re Looking for a church, part 2

Last week we began to answer those who say, “We’re looking for a church.” To answer we had to first describe what the church is NOT.

  • It is not a DIVISION.
  • It is not a BUILDING.
  • It is not just a NAME.
  • It is not an ORGANIZATION for general benevolence.
  • It is not for ENTERTAINMNET.

In this article we will look at a few things to consider when looking for a ‘church.’

By the way; we use this language accommodatively. We’re looking for Christians who are coming together as a church to do the work of the Lord in a local area.

We must search the scriptures with honest hearts and answer such requests in a kind, loving and scriptural way. We also need to be careful not to treat the church of Christ as just another denomination by using denominational language. (1Peter 4:11)

What are you looking for in a CHURCH?

Are you looking for the church (people) that CONFORMS to the scriptures in the New Testament, or one that conforms to the CULTURE of our times? Are you looking for God’s people that CONFORM themselves to the doctrine of Christ, or one that conforms to your schedule, your likes, your daycare needs?

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” [Rom 12:2; 2John 1:9]

Are you looking for a church whose HEAD is Christ, sitting in HEAVEN on His throne, or one that has a HEADQUARTERS on earth with unqualified men at its head?

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” [Mat 23:9; Acts 2:30-36; Col 1:18]

Are you looking for a church that is scripturally UNIFIED with Christ, or one that is UNIFIED only in their diversity of practices, and tolerance of sin?

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” [Eph 4:3-6]

Are you looking for the church that will be RAISED up on the last day, or the many that will be REFUSED by Christ for their works done without His authority? Christ will only RAISE one church, His church.  

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; Eph 5:23]

Are you looking for the one that is being CONSTRUCTED by Christ, or the one that is being built in a way that is CONTRARY to Christ?

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18; Eph 2:19-20; 2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-10]

Are you looking for the church that you can read & HEAR about in the Bible, that requires a HEARTFUL obedience to God’s instructions? The one we can’t join, but are added to when we obey from the HEART that form of doctrine (water baptism).

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” [Rom 6:17; cf 3-4; Acts 2:38-47; Col 2:12; 1Pet 3:21]

Much more can be said about how to Identify the Lord’s church. Would you like to learn what the Bible says about the church of Christ? We want to help you to be set free by the truth of God’s Word. [John 8:32]

— spencer

Looking for a church? pt1

How many times have you heard someone make that statement? How many times have you invited them to worship only to hear them try to explain why the church of Christ doesn’t fit in with their expectations?
 
Yeah, me too. Many times, you’ll see people post on social media groups about seeking a church.
 
They will also list the criterion by which they will choose a church. Things like; Daycare, children’s & single’s programs. One person said to me, “I didn’t join my church because of their food & carnivals, but I would join one without them.”
 
How can we answer our neighbors better? We can help them find THE church,

but we have to be ready to give them an answer. Let’s prepare ourselves to answer such requests in a kind, loving and scriptural way. Before we can show them what the bible says, we need to see if they’re willing to have a conversation about what the bible says. Many have never heard what you know about what the bible says about the Lord’s church. Many only have a denominational understanding.
 
If you get to have the conversation, the first thing that might help is to show them what the church is NOT.
 
First, it is not a DENOMINATION. It’s not even non-denominational. The church that Christ built is UN-DENOMINATIONAL. “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1Cor 1:12-13)
 
Second, the church is not an EDIFICE, a building, nor a place. The church of the bible is a People. The church is spoken of as if it’s a building, (eg; “Let’s go to church.”). John wrote to people not a building; “I wrote unto the church:” (3John 1:9; cf Phm 1:2; Col 1:24; 4:15). People are the church (Heb 3:6; 1Co 3:16)
 
Third, the church is not the Lord’s church just because of a NAME. Talking about the church as a name contributes to the denominational concept. The phrase, “church of Christ” denotes ownership. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28). There are many buildings with a sign on front that says, “the church of Christ,” but that doesn’t make it so. There are identifying marks that will tell us if it’s the church that the Lord bought. The church at Ephesus was in danger of having their candlestick removed unless they repent. (Rev 2:1-5)
 
I know this point confuses many. We all recognize that many denominations wear man made NAMES and wear the NAME of their founders. (eg. Lutheran). The New Testament uses many identifying phrases; (often including location)
·       My church; Matt 16:18
·       church of the Lord, church of God; Acts 20:28; 1Cor 1:2
·       The body, The church; Col 1:18; Eph 1:22-23; 5:23; 1Thess 1:1
·       Household of God, church of the living God; Eph 2:19; 1Tim 3:15
·       Church of the Firstborn; Heb 12:23
·       God’s field, God’s building; 1Cor 3:9
·       The Flock; 1Peter 5:3; Acts 20:28
·       Church of Christ; Rom 16:16
 
Fourth, the church is not an ORGANIZATION for general benevolence nor a political action committee. This is one of the main points of confusion. Our culture today believes that the church exists to ease the physical needs of mankind or to raise up a political movement. The primary purpose of the church found in the bible is as a gospel teaching ORGANIZATION. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1Tim 3:15, 5:3-16; cf. Mat 28:18-20; Eph 3:10)
 
Fifthly and finally, the church does not exist for entertainment nor MERRYMAKING purposes. This doesn’t mean one must be sad & unhappy when they worship the Lord. What it does mean is that the church exists for a higher purpose than carnal entertainment. “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” (1Cor 11:22).
 
Next week we’ll take a look at what IS the church found in the New Testament.
— spencer

What made the Wise Men WISE?

What made the Wise Men WISE?

FOLLOWING THE STAR…

We know not the date of His birth

We have no command to celebrate it.

We have no idea how many Wise men.

Mat 2:1-12 Wise men following the star

Following the star, what made these…

WISE men? Matt 2:1-12

What can we learn from these WISE men?

It’s WISE to

WORSHIP. Mat 2:11.

When Christ was born, all the angels of God worshipped Him. (Heb 1:6)

John 4:24 must, in spirit and in truth.

It’s WISE to

INVEST in Christ. Mat 2:11; 6:20

GIVE. Gold = King; Fran = Priest; Myrhh = Burial.

GOD has always required it.

Deut 14:22-29 (1st Tithe, Lev 27:30-33; 2nd & 3rd Tithe Deut 14:22-29

Abraham gave; [Heb 7:4].

Give of yourself first! 2Cor 8:5

INDIVIDUALLY, directly. Luke 10:33.

The judgment scene, Mat 25:31-46

VOLUNTARY. 2Cor 8:12, 9:7

EVEN a cup of water. Mr 9:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name,

It’s WISE to

SEEK Christ. What GUIDE to use?

Those with lessor wisdom seek the perishing things. Col 2:22-23 perish with using.

They had a divine GUIDE, the star.

Mat 6:33 seek ye first. Col 2:1-2 seek, set…

Emotionalism. Deceived, joy or hurt. Consider Jacob about Joseph. Gen 37:34; 45:26

A painful or joyful falsehood, if believed by us, will affect us in the same way.

Wise men depend not on uncertain guides.

DIRT man wisdom.

Mars Hill Men’s IGNORANCE. Act 17:22,23

Man’s wisdom doesn’t know God. 1Cor 1:21

The wisdom from above is not within man. James 3:17; Jer 10:23. Judges 21:25

INSIDE your conscience? consider Paul.

Ac 26:9 I verily thought with myself, contrary

His conscience was perfectly clear. Act 23:1

A Conscience trained in the truth urges.

A conscience untrained cannot bear the truth.

Rom 2:15 conscience accusing or excusing

Weak (1Cor 8:12), Defiled (Titus 1:15), Seared (1Tim 4:2), Evil (Heb 10:22).

Wise men depend not on uncertain guides.

UNIVERSE, nature?

While the heavens declare (Rom 1:20; Psa 19:1)

Nature as a sole guide makes sun, river, moon, animal worshippers. EGYPT.

We can learn from nature… Prov 6:6

Nature alone doesn’t lead us to know God.

Wise men depend not on uncertain guides.

NOT… Emotion, Dirty man, Inside us, Universe…

The wise men followed a divinely created star, the only divine guide for today’s wise man is

GOD’S revealed, inspired word.

Ps 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Pr 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

John 8:33 The truth shall make you free. John 17:17

2John 1:9 abide not… hath not God.

Mat 7:21-23; Luke 6:46

It’s WISE to go the

ENTIRE way.

The wise of the east did not stop until they reached.

Far too many stop SHORT of reaching Jesus…

SCRIBE was close. Mar 12:34 Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.

HARD sayings stop some short. Joh 6:60-66

One w/ greater sin, Judas. Mat 26:14-17; John 19:11

RULER so young, lacked one thing. Mark 10:17-22

TURNING back once the hand is at the plow… Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

ENDURE unto the end.

“But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13

Congregational Worship and COVID-19

Virtual worship: Should you live stream, do a podcast, or send an ...

Congregational Worship and COVID-19

By Joe R. Price

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” So the saying goes. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).

The present COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of valuable spiritual lessons we may have taken for granted until this moment of crisis. For instance, God, in His providence, continues to furnish our needs so that our faith does not turn into anxiety (Matt. 6:24-34). Also, while we have free will with its choices and consequences, we still live under the unexpected reality of “time and chance” (Eccl. 9:11-12). Such times warn us to turn to God with all our heart (Joel 2:12-14). And, we call to mind that “Thy will be done” must be our north star as we navigate life (Jas. 4:13-17).

Even as 9-11 brought new travel screenings and requirements, this event is likely to produce its share of social changes as we move beyond the temporary “stay at home” orders. Social or physical distancing may continue to impact going to large crowd events, restaurants, doctor’s offices, etc. Education continues to be affected. Sure, online study courses have been around for a long time. Now, online learning has increased to accommodate the stay at home orders prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction (Chris Reykdal) recently said to expect distance learning to be in place “for quite a long time” (“State schools chief: Expect to use distance learning ‘for quite a long time,’” James Drew, The Bellingham Herald, April 6, 2020). Restaurants are introducing no-touch food delivery systems to prevent food contamination. Tele-med services are on the increase and may become a more standardized way of visiting doctors in the future. These are just some of the innovations and changes happening as we pass through this temporary crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis is also affecting churches of Christ. Many have temporarily rearranged or canceled worship assemblies. Online Bible classes have multiplied to fill this space. Each congregation is making these temporary decisions for the safety of its members (much as they do when extreme weather prevents safe passage to its place of assembly).

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge of internet activity among brethren. Most congregations have been providing online sermons, Bible study, and teaching material on their websites for years. During this time, many brethren have turned to additional online methods of communication like Facetime, Skype, Messenger, and internet conferencing services like Zoom to facilitate teaching God’s word.

Perhaps it will be helpful to review the meaning of “virtual” within the context of the internet and computer world. Virtual is defined as:

“being something in essence or effect, though not actually or in fact” is from mid-15c., probably via sense of “capable of producing a certain effect” (early 15c.). Computer sense of “not physically existing but made to appear by software” is attested from 1959” (Online Etymology Dictionary).

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary says of virtual computing, “not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.”  It also notes that to “virtualize” is to “convert to a computer-generated simulation of reality” (Ibid).

Merriam-Webster corroborates the definition of virtual as “being on or simulated on a computer or computer network…occurring or existing primarily online… of, relating to, or existing within a virtual reality” (merriam-webster.com).

By definition, the virtual world is simulated; it does not physically exist. It is not an actual world. The internet is a medium (a network) by which we communicate through computer-generated codes (and many things that go way over my head)! But I do know this: I have not changed my location when I am online. I am at my keyboard in front of a monitor (or using a smartphone or some other internet device). I am in virtual reality (the virtual world), but I am actually (really) still in a physical or material location.

That said, our purpose here is to issue a gentle warning to avoid letting the temporary become the norm. Just as our country and the world must return to regular activities, so also must local churches. As the virtual world becomes more and more useful and used, we should be careful not to change the nature of the local church of Christ as we use the bandwidth of cyberspace.

In other words, we must not take Bible authority for granted as we used the internet. Even in the virtual world, we must have Bible authority for whatever we say and do (Col.. 3:17).

The Bible is a book of patterns to which we must conform and hold fast (2 Tim. 1:13; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 2 Thess. 2:15). By doing so, we obey the commands of Christ’s apostles (2 Thess. 3:4; 1 Cor. 11:1).

Holding fast to Bible patterns is another way of referring to having and applying Bible authority (God’s authority). Just as God told Moses to build the tabernacle and its furnishings “according to the pattern” shown him on Mt. Sinai, we are charged not to alter the gospel of Christ (Heb. 8:5; Gal. 1:6-9).

When we follow God’s word, we will hold fast to the pattern of work for the local church that He approves and blesses. For example, God commanded King Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites as God’s act of just punishment for their sins against Israel (1 Sam. 15:1-3). God regarded Saul’s failure to follow His revealed will (His pattern) as disobedience and rebellion (1 Sam. 15:9-11, 22-23). Saul changed the nature of his conduct into rebellion when he failed to follow God’s pattern. As a result, God rejected Saul as king.

The New Testament pattern for the work of the local church is spiritual. The local church’s work is evangelism, edification, and benevolence to needy Christians (cf. Acts 2:42-46; 4:32-35; 6:1-7; 1 Thess. 1:8; et al.). When we change the pattern of work for the local church, we have changed the nature of that work into disobedient rebellion against God. Surely, God is no more pleased with us when we change His pattern of work for the local church as He was with Saul when he did not follow God’s command.

When we follow God’s word, we hold fast to the pattern of worship for the local church that He approves and blesses. For example, the fire Nadab and Abihu offered God was “strange” because God “had not commanded it” (Lev. 10:1). They changed (corrupted) the nature of worship when they offered unauthorized fire. Their worship became “strange” (profane, foreign) and unacceptable to God.

The New Testament reveals a pattern for the worship of the local churchLocal churches assembled to pray, to sing, to eat the Lord’s Supper, to give as they have prospered, and to hear the word of God (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 16:2). When we change the pattern of worship for the local church, we have changed the nature of that worship into “strange fire” that God has not commanded. Surely, God is no more pleased with us when we change His pattern of worship as He was with Nadab and Abihu when they changed the fire He commanded.

When we follow God’s word, we hold fast to the pattern of congregational worship that He approves and blesses. Each Christian is responsible for his or her worship. And, God has provided the congregational arrangement for us to express our individual worship responsibilities. For example, the church at Corinth came “together…as a church…in one place…to eat the Lord’s Supper” (1 Cor. 11:17, 18, 20). (Unfortunately, their worship became corrupted, which the apostle addressed.) Each Christian was to eat the Supper while gathered together (1 Cor. 11:23-34). The Lord arranged the assembling of ourselves together as a feature of regular worship (Heb. 10:24-25; 1 Cor. 14:23, 26; Acts 20:7). And so, when we come together as a church in one place, we are following the New Testament pattern of congregational worship.

During this period of temporary suspension of worship assemblies, we should realize we are not attempting to reconstitute the congregational worship assembly when we arrange a virtual Bible study online. We are individuals in different places, not in one place, communicating via the internet. The internet is no more an actual “place” we gather any more than the old telephone party line was an actual place we met. Both the party line and an internet conference call are forms of communication individuals use at the same time when they are in different places. We may indeed “meet” on the phone or online to converse, but we are not in “one place.” When we “come together to eat,” it is contrasted with and different from activities done “at home” (1 Cor. 11:33-34).

God’s pattern reveals some acts of worship are designed exclusively for when the church comes together in one place. The Lord’s Supper and the weekly contribution are of this nature (1 Cor. 11:17-22, 33-34; 16:2). Other acts of worship (singing, praying, and listening to the God word) are included in, but not limited to, a congregational context (Jas. 5:13-16; Acts 20:20).

We understand and practice this when a Christian is sick and unable to attend the worship assembly. We do not take the Lord’s Supper to them, because the word of God places the Supper in the assembly of the local church. We do not take the collection plate to the sick Christian, either…

Let us remember that honorable intentions do not equate to God’s approval (Bible authority). There was a time when many Christians would take the Lord’s Supper to brethren who were shut-in in nursing homes. Though well-intended, this practice overlooks the congregational arrangement for the Supper. And, perhaps unwittingly, it reflected an undue elevation of the Supper to a near sacramental status as the most essential part of worship.

Just here, it helps us to recall King Saul’s impatient disobedience in 1 Samuel 13. When Samuel did not arrive at Gilgal in the time expected, Saul went ahead and offered a burnt offering. When Samuel came and questioned Saul, he replied by describing the circumstances he faced, then explained, “Therefore I FELT compelled, and offered a burnt offering” (1 Sam. 13:11-12). But in truth, what Saul did (however good his intentions) was foolish disobedience (1 Sam. 13:13).

Good intentions do not equal Bible authority and God’s approval. In our zeal to actively maintain a connection with our brethren through online Bible studies and prayers while going through the temporary suspension of our assemblies, let us be careful that we do not change the nature of God’s pattern of congregational worship.

After this current situation passes, it will still be a violation of God’s word to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Arranging a virtual worship service at the lake (or at home) instead of coming together as a church will not suffice (Heb. 10:24-25). If this is incorrect, then let us simply abandon the actual assembling of ourselves and transition to virtual assembling and virtual congregational worship. Or, if there is no distinction, then let us provide a “tradition” worship assembly (so as not to offend the older, more traditional brethren), and also arrange a “virtual” worship assembly (for those who are more comfortable with a new reality). But, to do these things changes the nature of the worship assembly. When we change the nature of congregational worship from actual to virtual, it amounts to offering God “strange fire” that He has not commanded.

Please understand, we are not charging anyone with deliberately and willfully changing the nature of worship. Not at all. By all means, we are thrilled to see many Christians having online Bible studies and sharing video sermons to spread the gospel and edify the saints. There is a needed place for such worthy endeavors. As we do so, may we be cautious and not allow our temporary, virtual practice to redefine (or replace) the actual practice of congregational worship.

We pray for a swift reversal of this present crisis, for the sake of saving lives and so that Christians may soon come together in one place for the congregational worship God designed (Heb. 10:24-25).

 

http://www.bibleanswer.com/2020_Vol_22_No_14_12Apr.htm#Congregational

 

What is WORSHIP on the 1st day of the week?

 

WORSHIP on the Lord’s Day is on the 1st day of the week when the saints gather together.

2 Types of worship.

  • Daily Glorification of God in our godliness. Cr. Acts 16:25
  • 1st Day of the week with 3 unique things.
    • Lord’s Supper. 1Cor 11:17-33; Acts 20:7
    • Contribution. 1Cor 16:1-2
    • Gathered Together in one place. 1Cor 11:17,18,20,33

ONE Another is together. 1Cor 11:17-33; Acts 20:7; Heb 10:25; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16

REQUIRED of God. John 4:24, Heb 10:24-25 (with exception to CRISIS)

  • Control is not yours. Paul in custody Acts 27
  • Real, not made up. ‘my ox fell in the ditch.’ Who pushed it in?
    • Lu 14:5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
    • Ex 23:5; De 22:4; Lu 13:15
  • Illness, Lev 13:46 outside of the camp.
  • Storms & other dangerous events
  • Infectious, Lepers.
    • Lev 13:45-46 face covered.
  • Sometimes, not habitual or customary
    • Heb 10:25 manner of some

SUPPER of the Lord has 2 elements [Exo 12; Luke 22:14-21 & a few conditions [tarry for one another 1Cor 11:33]. 1st Day, together, Spirit & Truth.

  • How do you forsake assembling of ourselves together if it’s incidental? Heb 10:25
  • How do we sing to one another? Eph 5:19, Col 3:16
  • How do we tarry for one another? 1Cor 10:33

HAVE no fear, some say. Does being fearless also include being reckless? Consider Paul who was not afraid to die, but avoided death on a few occasions. [Acts 9:23-25, 21:13; 23:11-22]

  • “God’s in Control” & “If it’s my time to die…”
  • Then play with rattlesnakes in the freeway.
  • “don’t tempt God.” EXACTLY! Don’t tempt God by being reckless. If you wish to be reckless, do it for yourself!

INDIVIDUALLY together. We come together, but God examines each heart individually. cf. Rev 3:4; Heb 4:12

PLEASING to God has to first be authorized. Gal 1:10; Mark 7:7; Phil 3:19; Col 2:23. 2Sam 7:1-7

It’s not necessarily Pleasing to God when it just feels good in our heart.

 

CLOSE; 1Cor 1:10 Paul Pleading with a divided church.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Watch video here.

4 Keys to an Exciting Worship

 

You’ve heard it before, people saying, ‘church is boring.’ Some have even said, ‘I didn’t get anything out of the worship.’ This is one of the main criticisms of the church of Christ is that it’s too boring.

One visitor said, “this isn’t for me.” Another person said, “I’m not drawn to God by the bands, the food and the entertainment, but I would never go to church without them.” More frequently you’ll find folks comparing amenities between ‘churches’ like they choose options when buying a car.

Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts. There are a variety of reasons people give as to why

their attendance drops off. The preacher is boring, the singing is flat, the building is ugly, the people are cold & unfriendly.

Allow me to make a bold statement, none of these are the reason. You and you alone are the reason worship is boring!

I’ll prove it to you by showing you the 4 keys to VAIN worship and the remedies for making worship exciting.

The 1st reason some find worship boring is they don’t like the old ways. It’s not in VOGUE with today’s music & styles. They’ll also be critical of the building, the pews & any number of things that appear old fashioned.

REMEDY #1; Remember that worship is ordered by God our creator. [John 4:24]. When we stylize worship to our taste buds, we become guilty of worshiping our bellies or our own selves.

Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” [Phil 3:19; cr Col 2:23]

We must do all in the name of Jesus, that means by His permission. We worship the way we do by the scriptural authority of Jesus, the one who purchased the church with His own blood. Remember that, and you’ll instantly see a boost in your excitement.

Reason #2 some find worship cold & boring is that they impugn others motives. They act as mind readers which is impossible. Communication is difficult under the best of circumstances and nearly impossible when you make up thoughts others are having and ATTACK them mentally. Are you not being judgmental yourself?

REMEDY #2; Leave the mind & heart reading to God. We’re not good at it. All we can do is go by their actions & words. Instead of thinking poorly about one another, we’re allowed to think loving thoughts.

“(Love)…thinks no evil;” [1Cor 13:5b]

Reason #3 that folks give is that the people are unfriendly. Really? Let’s see how the typical person enters the building. They come in and walk IMMEDIATELY to a rear pew, on the outside edge speaking to no one as they enter. Then they hold court as if on a “throne” expecting the rest of the congregation to come to them for a greeting. And you’re calling the rest of us cold?! It reminds me of the Pharisees; “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” [Luke 11:43]

REMEDY #3; Here are 5 simple tricks you can do to instantly feel welcome while making others feel welcome also; SMILE.

  • Stand up, don’t race to sit down.
  • Make eye contact with us. You’re allowed to say hello.
  • Interest in others is a gift you give another.
  • Listen to them & they will listen to you.
  • Expect that others will like you instead of assuming otherwise.

Reason #4 some dislike worship, is that they’re NEEDY.  Needy people sound like this, “I didn’t get anything out of the worship.” What if everybody thought that way, where would the giving be?

REMEDY #4; We need to be NEEDY to give. Jesus said it’s more blessed to give. Worship is designed for givers.

  • Give teaching in song. Eph 5:19, Col 3:16
  • Give of means for spreading gospel. 1Cor 16:1-2
  • Give edification. Eph 4:29-32
  • Give heart to God. Mat 22:37-39, Mark 7:7
  • Give attention to scripture & doctrine. 1Tim 4:13

If you take this in the heart it is given, you will INSTANTLY find more joy in the worship that God has designed.

I love you all.

—Spencer

HE IS ABLE TO DELIVER THEE

Related image

 

An enormous golden statue was raised up in the land of Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that all the people should worship the image upon hearing the sounds of the “cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” [Dan 3:5-6]

At least 3 captive Jewish men ignored the command and were set to face the furnace for their faith. They were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Israelite names), better known as, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego [Daniel 3:12]. Faithful men who refused to bow down to any image or person except God.

What’s interesting to me about this whole event are the words spoken by these young men as they faced the fiery furnace being given the chance to worship the image & live or stand fast & die.

O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

Here’s a summary of what they were saying…

  • We have no need to give you a new answer
  • Our God whom we serve
  • Is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us
  • But if not, (if God doesn’t deliver them)
  • Know this, we WILL NOT serve false gods, nor worship the golden image.

This is a remarkable response from these 3 young men to an all-powerful King. They understood that all Nebuchadnezzar could do was kill their body, but not their souls. [cf. Mt 10:28] In other words, never let fear override your faith.

There are 5 lessons we can learn from this simple example:

  • There is no amount of pain on earth sufficient enough to match the severity of hell.
  • There is no amount of worldly pleasure great enough to surpass the joy of heaven.
  • God is able to deliver us & reward us in this life, but if He doesn’t, don’t miss heaven over it.
  • Standing firm in your faith is going to make someone very angry, stand firm anyway.
  • Standing firm for your faith may change someone’s mind.

After they were thrown into the furnace with haste, God did deliver them, and Nebuchadnezzar became a changed man. Let’s read what happened. [Daniel 3:26-28]

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

Today we face different challenges to our faith. However, the lessons of these faithful 3 can help us. Peter wrote about the suffering that Christians face and how we ought to respond.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15]

You see, people see the confidence in our hope during the persecutions of Godly living and want to know why.

 

–spencer

Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]