What is Grace pt5, it brings ETERNAL life.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

(Eph 2:8)

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” (Acts 15:11)

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” (Titus 2:11)

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

Grace is the gift of God that brings us Eternal Life. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

It may be helpful to some, as it is me, to think about the grace of God that enables us to have ETERNAL life.

First, we need to explain what ETERNAL means, (I know, but some “scholars” try to tell us it doesn’t mean what we think it means). It means EVERLASTING; perpetual, forever, ongoing. We look forward to a time when we can live with the Lord forever and ever.  

How to attain to Eternal life is TAUGHT by the Word of Christ. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (Joh 6:68). “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life” (John 6:27). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). We would know nothing about it separate and apart from the revealed will of God in the Scriptures.

Eternal life is our lifelong EXPECTATION of hope that is in Christ. “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1John 2:25). “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2; 3:7). “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7). Without eternal life, where is the hope?

Eternal life is for the RIGHTEOUS as defined by God. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt 25:46). “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:21). We are made righteous through the blood of Christ when we are baptized into Christ (Rom 5:9; Rev 1:5).

There is a NEGATIVE aspect to eternal life. The same length of eternity that awaits those that are in Christ also awaits those who are outside of Christ. The difference will be location. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41-46). “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29). “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2Thess 1:9). “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7). Some will claim that the lost will be annihilated; the scriptures teach something different.

Back to the positive aspects of eternal life. We can be ASSURED of eternal life by our faithfulness to Christ. “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). When our faith begins to waver, perhaps it’s an indication of a need to study His word, examine ourselves, and make correction so we may return to that confidence we have in Christ. “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1John 2:28; cf Heb 3:14; 10:22).

We can LAY HOLD of eternal life; “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses… Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1Tim 6:12, 19). This is done when we remain in the LOVE of Christ. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:21). We love God when we keep His commandments. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1John 5:3; cf John 14:15). The New Testament Scriptures are consistent on this point. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:8). “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9).

Spencer

If you are in the Borger area and would like to attend one of the services of the church of Christ at Franklin and Juniper, click here for location, and time.

Reminders in 2 Peter

Peter’s second letter is short but powerful. These three chapters contain the seeds for many a sermon on faith, obedience, heaven, and the impending destruction of the earth.

It could also be called a book of reminders. Note these verses…

• 1:12 I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance…

• 1:13 to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

• 1:15 after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

• 3:1 I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

Let us look at these reminders from the Apostle Peter through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The first reminders are in chapter one and are for us to “give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure” [1:10]. He goes on to say, “if you do these things you will never stumble.” What are the things Peter desired to bring into our remembrance?

There are seven things we are reminded to add to our Faith…

Virtue,

Knowledge,

Self-Control,

Perseverance,

Godliness,

Brotherly kindness

and Love.

If we do these things after becoming Christians, an entrance will be supplied to us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [5-11]

The second set of reminders are in the second chapter are about False Teachers. These false teachers will SECRETLY bring in destructive heresies. [2:1]

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

They will make MERCHANDISE of you, using DECEPTIVE words [v3]. They will SPEAK evil of the things they do not understand [v12]. They will ENTICE unstable souls [14]. They have FORSAKEN the right way [15]. They will speak GREAT SWELLING words of emptiness [18]. They ALLURE through the lusts of the flesh [18]. They will promise LIBERTY [19].

Peter says of these people, “For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” [21]. The examples of Scripture should remind us to beware and behave [4-11].

The third set of reminders are in chapter 3, “that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles:” [3:2]. What were some of these words of the holy prophets?

First: SCOFFERS will come in the last days [3]. These will be walking in their own lusts and saying, “where is the promise of His coming.” It seems to me that these scoffers may be among us just as the false teachers begin from us [2:1].

They willfully FORGET: [5] These scoffers willfully forget the lessons from the beginning. The lessons from Noah’s ark. That world perished by water; this one will perish with fire [7].

Do NOT FORGET this one thing: [8] that the timeline of God is not the timeline of men. Thankfully, it is not. God’s patient longsuffering is salvation [9, 15].

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;”

The DAY of the LORD: [10-13] will come as a thief. When He comes, the physical world will melt with a fervent heat. The hearts of men will melt with the realization of their error [11]. Those who are prepared through obedience to the gospel are looking for and forward to that wonderful Day [12-13].

He closes out this epistle as he opened it, with a call to DILIGENCE [14]. He refers to the letters from Paul, which have some things hard to understand, but not impossible to understand [Eph 3:3-4]. However, we must beware lest we fall. We already know this, Peter has just reminded them, and us [17].

The final reminder: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

— spencer

Spencer has labored with the church as an evangelist in Borger Texas since 2014.

Forgetting the PAST

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…” [Phil 3:13]

Paul’s storied past left much to be regretted and to be forgotten.

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” (Acts 26:9-11).

It’s Paul’s past that gives much more weight to this advice given through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What can we learn from Paul about how to forget the past?  Here’s the rest of the passage in Philippians 3:13-14; “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I press toward the mark for the prize” It’s not enough to just forget the past, one must PRESS toward the PRIZE. Each of us has a past that needs forgiving and forgetting (Rom 3:23). Thankfully we have obeyed that form of doctrine whereby we may have the forgiveness of sins and the forgetting of them by our heavenly Father (Rom 6:17; Heb 10:17). Having repented and been baptized, we are to move forward and not to remain in the past.

Set your affection on things above,” (Col 3:1-3). In the letter to the Colossians, Paul gives more details on this subject. If we’ve been raised with Christ, we are to seek those things above by setting our AFFECTIONS on things above. This word means to ‘intensively interest oneself.’ [Strong’s Greek Concordance]. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6). Paul makes this point in our Philippians passage verses 15-16.

For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” (Heb 11:13-14). This passage in Hebrews helps us learn from those who preceded us in faith. They needed to forget the past because, “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (15-16). The third key to forgetting the past is to SEEK a heavenly home. To seek means; ‘to search (inquire) for; intensively, to demand, to crave.’ [Strong’s Greek Concordance].

So far, we have learned that to forget the past is to Press toward the prize, to set our Affections above, and to Seek a heavenly home. The last piece comes to us from the Lord…

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). Just as we learned from the Patriarchs in the point above, we are not to TURN back from pressing forward. Looking back makes us ineligible for the kingdom of God. Please note, this is not about reflection on our past, it’s about longing to return to our past. Consider Lot’s wife. “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Gen 19:26).  In retelling his past, Paul didn’t violate the word of God because he wasn’t desiring to go back to what he had left. He told it as a reminder of the importance of pressing forward.

Forgetting the past is about keeping our desires for the future glory of heaven before us that it keeps us from returning to sin. Peter said it best, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2Pet 2:20-22).

We can only live in one of two directions. Pressing ahead or longing for the Past. “Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” (Ecc 7:10).

Let us press toward the prize, it will be worth it.

—spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. Would you like a personal bible study? Please reach out & let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.

Where will you spend your eternity?

The Destiny of Man
Keith Sharp | Mountain Home, Arkansas, USA
Introduction
September 11, 2001, the world watched in horror as terrorists took the lives of almost 3000 people. Thousands of people like us, who hours earlier were beginning a normal work day with no hint of significant danger, were suddenly face to face with their eternal destinies. For many souls who moments earlier were absorbed with job, family, and pleasure, now only one thing mattered – were they right with God? Surely this should cause us to think. Our lives too, in any of a thousand different ways, could be instantly snuffed out. Each of us must face the destiny of his soul. In comparison to this, all other concerns shrink to utter insignificance.
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what 
will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His 
Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works 
(Matthew 16:26-27).
What is your destiny?
 
Life
To the young, life seems endless; but both the inspired Word of God and the experience of the aged confirm that our time here is but a fleeting moment. “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16).
 
Furthermore, human life is so terribly uncertain. While you anticipate many years of work and pleasure, your life could be ended in an instant, as quickly and unpredictably as the vanishing of the morning fog.
Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend 
a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will 
happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time 
and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and 
do this or that’ (James 4:13-15).
 
We must also realize there will be no second chance after death to make corrections for a misspent life. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
 
Death
As you consider your life, be realistic. Death is certain. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
 
The only alternative is the possibility the Lord may return while we are still alive.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– in a moment, 
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will 
be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
Spend your small amount of time here preparing for destiny.
 
After Death
After death, what then? The spirits of all the dead enter a realm known in the Hebrew tongue as “Sheol” and in the Greek as “Hades.” David prophesied the resurrection of Christ thus: “For you will not leave my soul in hades, nor will you allow your holy one to see corruption” (cf. Acts 2:27). Thus, the apostle Peter explained, “He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption (Acts 2:31). This realm is variously defined as “the common receptacle of disembodied spirits,” “the unseen world,” or simply “the abode of the dead.”
 
There are two places within this realm. One is “Paradise,” where the blessed dead are comforted. As the Lord promised the thief, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The other realm is “torments” where the lost departed spirits suffer. The Master said the rich man was “in torments in Hades” (Luke 16:23). These places are separated by a “great gulf” over which none can cross. When the rich man wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to comfort him, Abraham reminded him, “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us (Luke 16:26).
 
Judgment Day
Then follows our unbreakable appointment with the Day of days. There have been many great days in human history. Americans remember Independence Day, July 4, 1776. Now September 11, 2001 has exceeded December 7,1941, Pearl Harbor Day, as “a day that will live in infamy.” But there is coming a day, “the judgment of the great day,” (Jude verse 6) which shall completely exceed all other days of all time.
 
On that monumental day, all the people, both good and bad, of all ages shall come forth from the grave. Christ warned:
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear 
His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and 
those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29)!
Abraham and Sarah shall arise from Machpelah. Moses shall come forth from the unknown wilderness grave across from Beth Peor. The oceans shall deliver up the countless millions buried within. The righteous dead shall burst forth from the grave with the shout of victory. All, all from Adam down, shall be raised! All the peoples of all the nations of the earth, including you, my friend, will stand before the Lord to be judged.
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit 
on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate 
them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will 
set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:31-33).
 
The Judgment
Christ will be the Judge. “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
 
His Word will be the standard of judgment. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Reject His tender plea now if you will, but by that same Gospel your destiny will be sealed.
 
Eternity
On that day time will end and future eternity will begin. “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).
 
Eternity – what does it mean? Actually, in human terms it is undefinable because it is infinite (unlimited), whereas all within our experience is finite (limited). But, to crudely illustrate its vast sweep, suppose that a tiny house fly were to scrape a minute particle of dust up on one of his little wings and begin the 92,900,000 mile journey to the sun at the rate of one mile per hour, deposit the particle, return to the earth at the same slow pace, and continue this process until the entirety of our globe, all six sextillion (6 followed by 27 zeros) tons of it, were transported to the sun. How would this compare with eternity? About like the snap of your finger compares to all human history from Adam to the present. And the comparison is inadequate, because, despite the enormity of the time involved, it is finite, not infinite.
 
Hell
If you have not prepared for destiny, you will spend that eternity in a horrible devil’s hell. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
 
The punishment will be terrible beyond human power to describe. Those miserable wretches so utterly condemned will burn without ceasing, with never any hope of relief. “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night” (Revelation 14:11). There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30). Their companions forever will be the wicked of the earth.
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, 
and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is 
the second death (Revelation 21:8).
“But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 22:15). Man’s vicious adversary, Satan, and his angels will be their companions. “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41).
 
Heaven
On the other hand, if you have prepared to meet your destiny, the beauty of an eternal inheritance in Heaven will await you.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant 
mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ 
from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, 
reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation 
ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).
 
What joy to spend eternity in that sweet home where we shall never again face the suffering of disease, the heartache of death, or the tears of departure. The loving Father shall tenderly comfort His children forever and ever. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
 
He shall be our light throughout endless ages, and the curse of sin will be forever lifted. “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
 
How blessed to be in the very presence of God, His Son, our beloved Savior, and the Holy Spirit. “God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him (Revelation 22:3; cf. 1 Peter 1:12). The angels of God will be our companions, for they too are “in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). How delightful to walk and talk with Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Paul, Peter, and all the great men and women of faith from every age. Don’t you long to go there?
 
Conclusion
Eternity is the common destiny of Adam’s race. Where you spend that eternity is your decision. It depends on what you do with Christ and His Word. You can believe in Him, obey Him, and give your life to Him, and your eternal destiny will be the wonderful joy of heaven. Or you can refuse Him and His Word and suffer forever in hell. Where will you spend eternity?

HE IS ABLE TO DELIVER THEE

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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

“You guys think you’re the only ones going to heaven.”

Has anyone ever challenged you with this statement after telling them to which church you belong? Did you know what to say?

Before we offer an answer to this accusation, we need to identify it for what it is; it’s an intellectually dishonest accusation based upon an unstudied position. It’s emotionally charged based on another similar question; “will God actually send good people to hell?”

Here’s another way of stating these charges; “do you mean to tell me that God is going to send people to hell who disregard His authority and choose not to follow the whole counsel of God?”

When stated this way, you can begin to see the answer to their claims.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

Most, if not all, attacks come from a position of partial understanding of God’s word. The real answer to most attacks should be “who has all authority, and how do we know what it is?” when faced with an emotionally charged criticism, I ask this question; “What does the bible say?

Jesus has “all authority” [Mat 28:18], and He alone has the right to determine under what conditions salvation is determined. He said that judgment will be based upon the standard of God’s word [John 12:48] and if this is true, are we to teach it accurately? Do any of us have the right to teach less or to add more to His word? Certainly not!

If the bible teaches that only those who have been added to the Lord’s church are saved [Acts 2:47], then to teach otherwise is to be a false teacher. To belong to a church not mentioned in the Bible is to disregard God’s word, the word upon which the determination of saved or lost is made.

The Lord’s church.
  • Jesus said; “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18] He could have built 1,000 churchES, but He only promised to build ONE.
  • Jesus purchased ONE church; “… the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]
  • Jesus is the head of His church; “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,” [Eph 1:22-23]
  • Jesus will save His body; “…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” [Eph 5:23b]

How many bodies (churches) did He build, purchase, is the head of and is the savior of? We read about followers of Christ assembling in local congregations called ‘churches of Christ.’ [Rom 16:16] These are not different denominations teaching different doctrines. These are adherents to God’s word assembling as commanded in their home towns.

Some argue that there are many members of that one body in all the denominations. Can that even make sense? Don’t forget about the word that judges us in the last day. Denominations teach different things about salvation, sin, worship, faith, apostacy etc. Some teach & bind MORE than what the bible teaches on these subjects. Can we be a part of a denomination that adds to or takes away from God’s word and say you’re following the whole counsel of God? When we examine the scriptures, we find the expectation that the same thing be taught to every person. [1Cor 1:10-14]

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” [1Cor 4:17]

A word of caution; not every person who attends a “church of Christ” belongs to Him. There are some who are in unrepented sin or practicing error. Revelation 2 & 3 also teaches that entire congregations have left their first love, hold the doctrine of Balaam, allow false teachers in, are spiritually dead, and are lukewarm. Jesus said to one congregation, “for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Rev 3:2]. They were not completely following God’s word!

If those who are in the Lord’s church are in jeopardy for not following His will, what makes you think He’s going to overlook denominational error?!

3 step method for Overcoming Discouragement

THERE ARE MANY reasons why we become discouraged.

Life is Difficult. Job faced this more than any other person. Problem after problem after problem just kept coming upon him and he didn’t know why [Job 1-2]. Let’s face it, life is hard and it’s dangerous. We face the loss of jobs, or stuff through things outside of our control. Sometimes tragedy strikes us with the loss of a friend or family in death.

Life’s challenges appear too big. This seems to be the challenge for the Israelites as they came into the promised land, even the people were giants! [Num 13:26-33; 32:9] The Lord knew that the challenge of taking the land would look too big and warned them about becoming discouraged [Deut 1:21]. Do the obstacles you face, money, health & relationships, appear too big to handle?

Other folks get us down. Then there’s the trouble that comes upon us through other folks. Their bad behavior affects us. The sin of David in numbering the people did this [2Sam 24:15]. Often we’re troubled by the sin of another. Whether it is their apathy, carelessness or outright wickedness, we become discouraged.

Consider the many tragedies our brother Paul faced during his life as an Apostle of Jesus Christ;  …in labours … in stripes … in prisons … in deaths …five times …forty stripes … Thrice … beaten with rods, once … stoned, thrice … shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; … journeyings often, …perils of waters, … robbers… mine own countrymen, … heathen, … city…wilderness… sea,…false brethren; …weariness … painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. [2Co 11:23-28] It would make almost anyone want to give up, but friend, that is not the answer. “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” [2Th 3:13]. What are we to do?

3 STEPS TO OVERCOME DISCOURAGEMENT

STEP 1TAKE COMFORT IN JESUS – REALIZE THE POWER OF CHRIST WHEN WE ARE WEAK… Paul is referring to this when he makes the statement in 2Cor 4:16 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” As we have seen, Paul suffered greatly for Christ [2 Co 4:8-9], but he saw it as an opportunity for God’s power through Christ to be shown [2Co 4:7,10-11]. Christ taught Paul this lesson as he struggled with his “thorn in the flesh” [2Co 12:7-10]. When we are weak, that is an opportunity to depend upon the Lord for strength! So infirmities and tribulations can be occasions to rejoice, not despair!

STEP 2LOOK AT THINGS NOT SEEN…FAITH Heb 11:1. Looking at things not seen refers to the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” [2Cor 4:16-17]. This is what renewed Paul inwardly day by day. This attitude makes our AFFLICTION appear light! It’s this mindset that gives us comfort that if our earthly house is destroyed (our bodies) we have…” a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” [2Co 5:1-5]. If looking to things unseen can renew Paul, it can also do the same for us.

STEP 3TAKE ACTION – DO SOMETHING – FEAR BOREDOM We must keep on keeping on, or as Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Php 3:14]. We can all do something. It’s easy to say, “nobody’s there for me, so why should I be there for them?” Friend, this is not Christ’s way. Even though all had forsaken Him, Jesus didn’t stop serving us all the way to the cross! He left us an example in which to follow.

We can all do something; For OTHERS For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” [Mt 25:35-36]. When we’re serving the brethren, we’re in effect, serving Jesus. I’ve yet to find the passage which states, “Serve thy brethren AFTER they have served you.”

We can also do something for the spreading of the GOSPEL by inviting someone to read the scriptures with you, or inviting them to a worship service. Let me remind you that one of the methods of evangelism is through our HOPE & GODLINESS [1Peter 3:1, 15].

And finally, we can do something for the CHURCH by participating in the worship & in our Bible classes. Colossians 3:16 teaches how we help one another in our songs, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

As one of our songs says, “Let us labor for the Master from the dawn til setting sun, let us talk of all His wondrous love and care; Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done, and the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.”

7 things Jesus said that made me work harder

While sitting in my office here in Borger, Tx, I was wondering, Why does one person seem to be more active as a Christian and another does not?  Said another way, why do some remain faithful and others fall away? Pondering this question, 7 verses of Jesus came to mind that are motivators for me and my faith.

1)“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Mt 22:37]

  • Certainly we should start here. This is the ultimate motivator, IF you believe in the existence of God. For me, obedience to an all powerful God makes perfect sense. He created me, He gave me life, He deserves my life service. Related to this saying are these:
  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:34-35]
    • Our love, including our demonstration of love, has an impact on my evangelistic efforts. It reminds me of David’s sin. He certainly committed adultery, lying and finally murder, but his real sin was, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, “ [2Sa 12:14]
  • But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” [Mt 5:44]
    • Elevated even further, love our enemies. This really gets at the heart of the matter because in this one thing we see the truth of the love of God, the love of an enemy. [Rom 5:10]

2)“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” [Mr 8:36]

  • This verse showed me the vanity of worldly pursuits, and that these pursuits can interfere with my ability to win heaven. This verse clearly shows that nothing can be compared to heaven. What’s surprising, not that we sell our souls, but that we sell it so cheaply.

3)“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” [Lu 9:62]

  • It’s very easy to get lazy and unmotivated as a christian. This verse reminds us that our service toward God is an active service. James reminds us of this when he wrote, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” [Jam 2:18]

4)“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Mt 5:20]

  • So many people believe in an, “I’m ok / you’re ok” kind of life. This verse shows us that our righteousness is to EXCEED another’s. When you also look at this other verse, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” [Mt 23:23] we see that He was critical of their lack in the heart issues. Please note that He said, “without leaving the others undone.”

5)“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:” [Mt 25:35]

  • How do we do this? How do we feed our Lord? When we read the context we see very clearly that it’s done through the care and feeding of our brethren. He then goes on to say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” / “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”

6)“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mt 22:29]

  • Can there be any more sobering words from our Lord than these? “Spencer, you’re mistaken.” In what were these mistaken? You may say, “It’s got nothing to do with salvation.” My question for you is this, CAN YOU BE MISTAKEN ABOUT SALVATION, By not knowing the scriptures or the power of God?

7)“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” [Joh 3:5]

  • When Jesus says things like, “except ye______, he cannot enter….” we need to pay attention. So much verbal gymnastics are performed attempting to explain away baptism. When you take the entirety of scripture, [Mrk 16:16; Acts 22:16] you can only come to the conclusion that baptism is essential.

So, there you go. Seven amazing quotes from our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ. What will motivate you to serve Him better? If not these, what?

One more bonus quote I will share: “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.” [Mt 7:21]