The Lord’s Church. . .Means or Result of Salvation?

•November 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

The Lord’s Church. . .Means or Result of Salvation?

Uchenna F. Bekee

When followers of Christ are likened unto a physical body, Christ is the head and the saints are the members of that body, the church (Eph. 1:22-23). All who are in Christ are, by this figure, considered members of His body. We ignore priorities if we say one becomes a saint by becoming a member of His body. The body figure describes certain characteristics of Christ’s followers–it does not tell us how to become followers, nor does it provide the means of becoming such.

The church is not the means of our redemption from sin, it is the result. The church does not save, it is the saved. The Christian life is lived in faithfulness to the Lord (Acts 11:20-23), not to the “church.” When we say one can not be saved without being in the church we mean that all we who are saved become, by the same process, members of His universal body.

What was God’s “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus”? Paul says it was “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:3-6,8-11). Salvation from sin, in Christ, for whosoever will; that was God’s eternal purpose. The wisdom (and love, and mercy) of God is “made known” (demonstrated) by the product: Jews and Gentiles serving God together in the church.

What was to be established “in the last days” according to Isaiah 2:, Daniel 2:, Micah 4, Joel 2:? The “mountain of Jehovah” was to be established–the rule or government of God in Christ. “Kingdom” (basileia) always refers to rule; then by extension to citizens, etc. “Out of Zion shall go forth the law (instruction), and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.” Those who came to the mountain, who followed the instructions of the King, were the fruit or result of the means of salvation, Jesus Christ. Thus, the church was established in Jerusalem.

The church is called the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32), and other like terms which stress various characteristics of God’s people. It is the people who are under consideration, not some institutional concept of “church” apart from saints. Perhaps there is a sense in which God instituted the church as He did marriage: by sanctioning and giving rules and regulations for all who enter this relationship but neither marriage nor the church exist apart from or before people so related.

We therefore reject the Catholic institutional concept of “church” as a “society” which is the means of redemption. They think of the New Testament as the product of the church; we think of the church as the product of the New Testament. Catholic Encyclopedia (V. III, p. 752) says “only by entering the Church can we participate in the redemption wrought for us by Christ.” We say, only by participating in the redemption wrought for us by Christ can we enter the church. They say “Incorporation with the Church can alone unite us to the family of the second Adam.” We say we are born of water and spirit into the family, which is the church (John 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 12:22-23).

The Catholic concept of “church” — sometimes called “historical” or “institutional” concept–puts a society between Christ and His people. Study this statement from Catholic Encyclopedia, V. III, p. 752: “It is to the Church that Christ has committed those means of grace through which the gifts He earned for men are communicated to them. The Church alone dispenses the sacraments. It alone makes known the light of revealed truth. Outside the Church these gifts cannot be obtained.” This gives “the Church” sole right to teach truth, to baptize, and hence to establish new congregations. It explains why “historic” churches claim succession from the Roman or other “mother” churches. It denies the “restoration” concept, whereby an individual may learn truth from the written Word, obey, upon no authority save that inherent in the Word, and thus become a child of God.

The “Bible alone” was accepted in pioneer days; but as “the church” grew this product took on new status. “We” alone can scripturally baptize, “we” must send (authorize) preachers, “we” must validate the Lord’s Supper. Unintentionally, and without realizing logical implications of our statements, many have accepted the Catholic, institutional concept. We have been slow to face this problem, thinking we might minimize “the importance of the church for which Christ died.” But Christ did not die for a society or institution; He died for Sam, Ann, Ike, Ned, Tom, and Sue–and that spells saints. Ironically, our reluctance to fight the basic institutional concept is due to our own institutional concept.

Should today’s conservative churches all “go liberal” to the extent of complete apostasy, would an individual have the right to study the Bible for himself? Learning what he must do to be saved, could he obey without resorting to the apostate church? Teaching others, could he baptize them? Could they form themselves into a local church, partake of the Lord’s Supper, etc.? Does the “authority for” or validation of any divinely decreed service hinge upon approval of any man or group of men? I believe an individual could learn truth, obey, and serve God acceptably; for I believe succession is in the seed, not in the sower (Luke 8:11-15).

This does not reject the New Testament concept of “church”–for the obedient individual is a member of Christ’s church; and his kind, the world over, make up the universal church on earth. This does not reject the local church as an organized entity, for faithful followers of Christ must and will associate themselves with other saints as opportunity permits, to worship together and promote the cause of the Lord collectively as well as individually. To this end the scriptures authorize local church oversight, treasury, and function. But the authority for divine things comes from divinity, not from man. We reject the idea that God has given into man’s hands (elders or “church”) either legislative, executive, or judicial authority. Christ is absolute monarch, ruling directly through His Spirit-filled Word. We are individually and directly responsible to our King, to serve Him in all good conscience. We pray for God’s help in doing this.

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How Do YOU VIEW GOSSIP?

•February 14, 2012 • 1 Comment

GOSSIP: Gossip is wicked and vicious because it is done in secret. This sin not only rests upon the one gossiping, but also upon the one who joyfully listens. Bible scriptures define Gossip as “a whispering” saying words about a person that we do not want that person to hear, hurtful words and sometimes untrue words. Gossip becomes slander when false information or inaccurate perceptions about a person is spoken openly to discredit them.

Gossip stems from:
•Fear or intimidation of confrontation due to misunderstanding, offense, disappointment or anger
•Lack of acceptance of current circumstance
•Anger, jealousy, resentment, hatred of a person
•Insecurity or negative empowerment

Gossip Consequences: (“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” – Proverbs 18:21 NLT)
-Regret after learning your perceptions or information was wrong.
•Damages or scars caused to the person’s character, reputation, credibility…
•Negative relational effects: separation, uncomfortably from people and person talked about.

Get right with the person you gossiped about: (“A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer (gossip) separates the best of friends”-Proverbs 16:28)

•Pray for the person you gossiped about
•If possible go to that person and ask for their forgiveness.
•If possible go to the people you gossiped to and ask for their forgiveness for involving them in this sinful destructive behavior.
•Try to repair the damage done to relationship/s separated due to gossip.

Get right with God:
•Confess to God that you were unkind to engage in gossip, lied and betrayed person by taking behind their back.
•Repent for making a poor choice to engage in gossip.
•Ask God to restore relationships and any damage the gossip or slander has caused.

Believe Gods Word:
“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverb 20:19).
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

AN APPEAL TO SAVE HIDDEN TREASURE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS FOR GOVERNMENT CLOSURE

•March 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Joe Engelbird 24 January at 04:47 Report The Power of 10

 

The command that Jesus left us with is clear “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature he who believes and is baptized will be saved but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Think of that command and ask how many will be in heaven because of me? How many will obey the gospel because I obeyed the Lord? We should seek to tell the message of the gospel to everyone we can but we can also assist others in doing that preaching. There is such a man doing the Lord’s work that we can help. Uchenna F. Bekee is the local preacher for the Iriebe Church of Christ in Obiakpo Nigeria. He also oversees the Hidden Treasures Christian School in Rivers State Oyigbo Nigeria. For several years the West Georgia congregation has supported him as part of our mission work. Here is where all of us can help. The Hidden Treasures Christian School is a light in an otherwise dark place. There Uchenna along with his wife Mrs. Pleasure Odiwanma Uchenna operate the school as a place to educate young people both academics as well as ground them in the Bible. Here because of the work these great folks are doing the great commission of our Lord is being faithfully carried out. However because of recent changes in what the Nigerian government allows for schools to operate Brother Bekee desperately needs to raise funds to construct a facility to house the school. Is it possible that 1000 Christians here in the states can contribute $10 each to help continue Christian education in Nigeria? If we really believe the great commission is ours to carry out then this is just a small way we can do it. If you feel you can contribute and be part of the power of 10 please contact the West Georgia Church of Christ by calling 770-834-3750 or write sending correspondence to 1310 North Park St, PO Box 31 Carrollton GA 30117.

 

 

 

Brethren and Friends in Christ,

 

 

I want to come to your hearts and minds, this day with this passionate appeal for assistance towards the Mission School that I began here in Nigeria in 2007. The government of Rivers State and, indeed, This move is going to affect our school, which is the only Christian school affiliated to the Church of Christ in Nigeria. We began this work to help save our children from religious, moral and academic decay that is predominant in this society, to train youths who would become future Leaders of the Church of Christ . At the moment, the School has operated in a rented apartment for the past three years. This facility is one of so many that is not built for the use of a School. We began this work in view that with time, we may be blessed with helpers who will encourage us to materially and financially be able to relocate the School to a permanent location. Right now, the threat to close down schools is coming hard and many schools who are here before us but have being using the same type of premises and facility we use, have began to move to their permanent locations. Others merge with other schools because the majority of them are not faith based as in the Church of Christ family. We can’t merge because that is not the idea and vision for setting up Hidden Treasure Christian Schools. In the year 2009, in the month of August, we began to make payments for a plot of land that will be good for the residential location of the Mission School and a preaching School. The cost on the land was $10,000, and we have being able to pay up to $6000. We are sure that if we can get the land paid off, it will be a good one. Right now, we have all the documents on the Land made for the vendor to assent to if her payment is completed. At the same time, we plead that you, your friends in the Lord, and brethren as a congregation , can be of help in so many ways as to give this work a lasting existence. We have also a rolling plan that will last for years in the developing of that property. It will take every phase of work to be done on the land, $10,000 to build structures fit for study, Hostel accommodations, Church and Chapel hall, Residential apartments for teachers and bible Students, A Clinic, and an orphanage. Right now, we are looking for the first $14,000 to pay off and begin work as soon as possible to save the school, and the kids the damage and difficulty of losing their school. May you have the time to read this note, and give it a consideration the Lord will create in your heart. share it with brethren, friends and all. We know that times are so hard, but may we remember the Macedonian Church in II Cor. 8.

 

IS IT POSSIBLE TO AVOID SINNING?

•September 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

IS IT POSSIBLE TO AVOID SINNING?
Introduction: There are those, even among our brethren, who teach that man cannot keep from sinning. Others think they cannot sin, and do not guard against temptation.
David, however, not only knew that he might sin but that he could keep from sinning; and he knew how:
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
Spurgeon said that this verse mentions the best thing—God’s word—in the best place—my heart—for the best purpose—that I might not sin.
The heart is intellectual (Matt. 9:4; Mark 2:8), emotional (Lev. 19:17; 1 Peter 1:22), ethical (1 John 3:19-21) and volitional (Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 9:6-7) in nature.
To keep from sinning you must hide God’s word in your heart. “But,” someone asks, “How do I hide His word in my heart?”
1 Desire to understand the word of God (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Thess. 2:10-12).
2 Strive to understand the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 5:17).
3 Appreciate the power of the word of God (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12; Psalm 19:7).
4 Hold the word of God in high esteem for its value (Psalm 119:105,161).
5 Store up the word of God in our memory (John 8:32; Luke 4:1-12).
6 Apply the word of God to our lives (James 1:22-25; Luke 6:46).
One might well ask, “How does the word of God keep me from sinning?”
1 The word of God imparts counsel concerning sin (Psalm 1:1-2).
2 The word of God warns of punishment for sin (Rom. 6:23).
3 The word of God makes promises for overcoming sin (James 1:12).
4 The word of God informs of God’s love (Rom. 5:5; 1 John 4:9-10, 19; 5:3).
5 The word of God enjoins practical duties (Rom. 12:9-21).
6 The word of God communicates strength (Eph. 6:10-20).
Will we truly be able to keep from sinning?
Yes, this was the reason John wrote his first epistle (1 John 2:1).
Will we be able to perfectly keep from sinning?
Yes, if we perfectly apply these principle

Abraham’s Hospital

•June 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

Abraham’s Hospital

Today I would like us to consider an event from the life of Abraham, for I believe it sheds some light on a certain New Testament command. Let us begin by reading Genesis 18:1-8:

“Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from his tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, ‘My Lord, if I have now found favor in your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.’ They said, ‘Do as you have said.’ So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.’ And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them, and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.”

Abraham’s hospitality here is worthy of our consideration and emulation. As the Hebrews writer says – “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Heb. 13:1,2). A careful study of Abraham’s actions and words in the beginning of Genesis 18 indicates that he was unaware as to the true identity of his guests. He certainly wouldn’t have offered food had he known his visitors included angels and deity Himself!

Of course, Abraham’s behavior is even more impressive in this light. He treated perfect strangers with kindness and great honor! This is seen in his running to greet them, in his bowing to the ground respectfully, in his offering refreshment to them at his own expense, and in his hurrying to provide the food as quickly as possible. Abraham was truly a hospitable man! He didn’t treat the strangers as an unwanted interruption to his day. He didn’t ignore them or complain to his wife about them popping in unexpectedly. He treated them like family! He was happy to serve them humbly, and that is just one reason why Abraham is so great.

What about us, friends? If we treat our fellow human beings as Abraham did–with unhesitating kindness and generosity–we will be in a better position to truly reach weary souls with the refreshing message of the gospel of Christ! There are any number of excuses that we can come up with today as to why we shouldn’t be hospitable (“It’s not safe”; “You can’t trust people anymore”; “I just don’t have time”; “My house isn’t clean enough”; etc.). These excuses may help sooth our consciences, but they aren’t reasons for disobeying the Lord!

Those who would be shepherds in the Lord’s church must be hospitable (cf. Titus 1:8). In other words, they must love and be friendly to strangers. However, hospitality is not just expected of leaders. Romans 12:13 instructs all Christians to pursue hospitality! Hospitality helps establish and strengthen friendships. Let us always remember the golden rule (cf. Matt. 7:12). Picture how you’d like to be treated, and then let that be your guide.

Our world of wickedness isn’t that much different now than it was in Abraham’s day (e.g., Gen. 19), and Abraham didn’t allow fear or the inconvenience of being hospitable to stop him from doing the right thing. Dear listeners, how are you pursuing hospitality in your life?

The kindness and love of God our Saviour.” – Titus 3:4

•June 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The kindness and love of God our Saviour.”
– Titus 3:4

How sweet it is to behold the Saviour communing with his own beloved
people! There can be nothing more delightful than, by the Divine Spirit,
to be led into this fertile field of delight. Let the mind for an instant
consider the history of the Redeemer’s love, and a thousand enchanting
acts of affection will suggest themselves, all of which have had for their
design the weaving of the heart into Christ, and the intertwisting of the
thoughts and emotions of the renewed soul with the mind of Jesus. When we
meditate upon this amazing love, and behold the all-glorious Kinsman of
the Church endowing her with all his ancient wealth, our souls may well
faint for joy. Who is he that can endure such a weight of love? That
partial sense of it which the Holy Spirit is sometimes pleased to afford,
is more than the soul can contain; how transporting must be a complete
view of it! When the soul shall have understanding to discern all the
Saviour’s gifts, wisdom wherewith to estimate them, and time in which to
meditate upon them, such as the world to come will afford us, we shall
then commune with Jesus in a nearer manner than at present. But who can
imagine the sweetness of such fellowship? It must be one of the things
which have not entered into the heart of man, but which God hath prepared
for them that love him.
Oh, to burst open the door of our Joseph’s granaries, and see the plenty
which he hath stored up for us! This will overwhelm us with love.
By faith we see, as in a glass darkly, the reflected image of his
unbounded treasures, but when we shall actually see the heavenly things
themselves, with our own eyes, how deep will be the stream of fellowship
in which our soul shall bathe itself! Till then our loudest sonnets shall
be reserved for our loving benefactor, Jesus Christ our Lord, whose love
to us is wonderful, passing the love of women.

The Church Of Christ

•June 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

What Is The Church Of Christ?

The church of Christ dates back to the days of the New Testament (Romans 16:16). It was founded by Christ on the
Day of Pentecost, A.D. 33 (Acts 2), not long after His resurrection back to heaven. In the years that followed the, it
rabidly grew to fill Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria, and finally the whole Roman Empire (Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:23). In
America, the first churches of Christ were planted in the late 1700s as the result of a movement begun to go back to
the Bible and do Bible things in Bible ways and call Bible things by Bible names (cf. 1 Peter 4:11).

We believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30-31), that the Bible is inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and
that Christ will return to take His kingdom home to God (1 Corinthians 15:24). We emphasize sincere worship (John 4:
24), every-member evangelism (Acts 8:4), godly living (Titus 2:11-12), love for each other (John 13:34-35), and
helping those in need (James 1:27). We believe the Bible teaches that sinners are saved by learning of Jesus, faith in
Jesus, repentance of sin because of Jesus, confession of Jesus, and baptism into Jesus (John 6:44-45; 3:16; Mark 16:
15-16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). The church of Christ is organized with elders, deacons, preachers, and members,
as in the New Testament times (Philippians 1:1). It has no governing body on earth higher than the local congregation.

The church of Christ is noted for its emphasis upon returning to New Testament Christianity and for its desire to
unite all Christians into one body (1 Corinthians 1:10). We believe that the New Testament is the only rule for faith and
practice in religious matters (2 Timothy 3:17; 2 Peter 1:3), and that God’s Word must authorize all that is done in
Christian worship (Colossians 3:17; Revelation 22:18-19). Thus we try to strictly follow the New Testament. We believe
that it is possible to have religious unity in a day of division by simply following the New Testament pattern and putting
aside human traditions.

To put it simply, the church of Christ is seeking to be the same church one reads about in the New Testament. We
aim to restore its doctrine, its practice, its lifestyle, and its zeal.