Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Guidelines for Church Seekers

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).

God is not human and that reason alone proves that His wisdom far outreaches what the human mind can conceive. His establishment of the world and everything created within it was completed without the opinion of man. With this in mind, it is hard for me to understand all the confusion when it comes to the acceptance of God’s description of His own church. The Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and how He details the church should satisfy the mind of faith. When we are searching for the church we must remember His “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Bible is a true beacon of light leading us to His church.

First off we must understand that the Bible shows us that the church was promised: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). We will do well to notice a couple of key points in this promise. First, Jesus promised to build one church. The choice of many churches was derived from the mind of man, not God. God only established one church. Also we need to notice that that His church was built on the rock of a confession. It was Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) that the church was promised to be built on, not on the physical man of Peter. If it was built on Peter, wouldn’t it be Peter’s church and not God’s? Also we can see that the Lord’s church is eternal. He is not coming to establish a kingdom because the one He established while He was on this earth is eternal. See how the light works?

Secondly, the Bible reveals to us that the church was purchased at a special cost. Paul told the elders in Ephesus to “shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The church was of utmost importance to the Almighty God. So much that He sent His only begotten Son to this world to pay the price of our redemption. This would prove to be very costly as even a limited study of the cross would reveal. Our decision to embrace sin caused us to be separated from God (Isaiah 59:2) and His love was willing to pay the price to purchase our souls back from the grips of the evil one of this world. Notice it took the blood of God and not the blood of man to purchase our souls back. Again, the light is shining from God’s truth.

Thirdly, the Bible reveals the church as a group of people with a purpose. We have been united into His body “so that the wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). Our goal as disciples of Christ is to die to the weakness of our own wisdom, which is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3:19), and to live as a light to the power of God’s wisdom. It is easy to see that there are many religious organizations in this world that are following the foolishness of man instead of the wisdom of God. That is why we must not “believe every spirit” but “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). There may be many different faiths and religions out there, but the light of truth has revealed the purpose of God’s true church and that is to reveal His wisdom and not man’s philosophies.

When you go looking for a church please remember that the Lord’s church is “added to” and never joined (Acts 2:47). You can join a fraternity or a social club but to enter the Lord’s church one must be added through faith in God’s power. These are good guidelines for your search.

In His Grace,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Opened Book

“With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24).

The Bible tells us that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). As long as people allow their minds to be blinded, truth cannot penetrate their heart with the light of truth that God uses to give meaning to life. This allows Satan to use his power of darkness to remove hope, comfort and preservation from the unbelieving hearts.

In Psalm 119:49, David shows that Satan’s deceit and darkness keeps God’s hope hidden from the minds that fall prey to his scheme. David knew the hope of faithfulness, because he knew the demise of unfaithfulness also. His life was once filled with disappointment as he tried to keep his flesh satisfied, but now he has found the comfort of hope that does not disappoint by sacrificing his desires for the purpose of pleasing God. Living to please God will always fill us with hope.

The Psalmist also reveals to us that God’s word provides us with comfort in our afflictions (50a). Unfortunately there is one fact that applies to every living soul in which God has breathed life, and that is that all will face some kind of affliction. Without the application of God’s truth these afflictions tear away at our joy of living. It steals the vibrancy that should come with being created in the likeness of God Himself. But studying God’s word opens our hearts and minds to His comforting power. David obviously had some big problems going on in his life. And as he remembers the afflictions that caused him dismay, he remembers how he was able to overcome their power. He remembers God’s word as his comfort. The power of God’s comfort can be realized through faith. This comfort allows the faithful to rejoice instead of regress in their work for the Lord: “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). People without God’s comfort give in to the pressures of persecution because they do not know how to be comforted.

David reveals one more detail of God’s providence as he shows us the revival found in God’s truth (50b). Coming to a deep relationship with God’s truth gives life a vigorous meaning that adds a little pep to our step. Knowing God is faithful to His promises allows us to face the trials of life with confidence. It keeps us reminded of how the faithful disciples sacrificed their lives without regret. It reveals to us the integrity of the One who is providing and protecting His own. This gives us the power to overcome the adversities Satan throws at us to steal our faith (John 10:10). God has promised to keep His children safe by assuring them of the afterlife through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son (1 Peter 3:21-22). We can be assured death has no victory or sting when our faith is built on God’s truth. We have been preserved by God’s truth.

To appreciate these promises one must open the book that speaks of the life God offers. The words written in our Bibles originate in God’s breath, the same breath that brought life to dirt (Genesis 2:7). God breathed words that are printed on the pages of our Bibles need to be imprinted on our hearts so we can be recipients of the promises of God. Do not leave God’s word of truth lay dormant on the pages. Take these words of power off the pages of your Bible and make them your guide in life. Let them influence every aspect of your life so you “too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), newness that will bring hope, comfort and preservation.

In His Grace,