Scripture Reading: I Kings 12:26-29
11.08.15 pm – Mark Day – It’s Too Much to Go to Jerusalem
The scriptures absolutely affirm the reality of eternal punishment for the wicked after this life (Mt. 25:30, 41, 46; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 21:8). Jesus Christ Himself is the most explicit of all God’s representatives about this teaching (Mt. 5:22; 29-30; 8:12; 10:28; 23:15; Mark 9:42-49; et al.). However, it is difficult for us to psychologically wrap our heads around the idea of people suffering eternally. We certainly do not like to think about it. Many are tempted to deny this grim reality that awaits the wicked in spite of the clarity of the scriptures regarding it. Instead of working to save people from hell, many wish to save people from the fear of hell; thus they attempt to reinterpret those Bible verses which teach its reality. But perverting God’s teaching on eternal punishment does not merely affect the meaning of a few verses, it changes the meaning of those biblical doctrines that we hold most precious. Consider a few:
1. Removing hell ruins the meaning of salvation. Salvation is precious because of what we have been saved from. Because of sin, we all deserve to die eternally (Rom. 3:23; 6:23), and we are so thankful to God that we do not have to meet the end we deserve (Rom. 7:24-25). But if we remove any idea of God’s wrath upon those who disobey Him, then we remove the significance of salvation. Unless we have been saved from real danger there is no meaning in salvation.
2. Removing hell ruins the preciousness of heaven. Though the Bible describes both destinations with equal certainty, the majority of people are willing to accept the idea of heaven, but deny the reality of hell. For years, surveys of common beliefs regarding what happens after death have shown this to be true. However, unless evil men are dealt with and separated from the saved, then heaven becomes populated with the same wicked people which plague the earth. Now, don’t get me wrong, I desire that all wicked people repent and be saved because that is what God desires (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9), but what shall be done with those who continue in wickedness? If they are never punished, nor separated from the good, then heaven is merely a recreated situation of our present earthly state. Heaven, then, is not a precious promise to the faithful, but just earthly life moved to another realm.
3. Removing hell ruins the integrity of our Lord. If we begin to embrace the idea that Lord may not carry through with His pledge to destroy the wicked, but instead reverse their fate, then how can we count on anything He says? If God has said something about the eternal destiny of the wicked that is not trustworthy, then how can we regard His promises to bless those who follow Him as trustworthy (Titus 1:2)? We either can count on what He says in His word or we cannot. A willful denial of clear teaching from the Bible on any particular topic because we do not like it equals a denial of the Bible altogether as a means of molding our beliefs.
We destroy much more than hell when we remove it from our set of beliefs. Seeing it is so clearly taught, and so inseparably woven into other teachings of God, we ought to respond to the doctrine of hell, not by denying it, but by doing our utmost to avoid it and teaching others to do the same.
Scripture Reading – Ezekiel 34:22:31
11.01.15 pm – Mark Day – The Messiah the Good Shepherd
By: Batsell Barrett Baxter
What Is The Distinctive Plea Of The Church Of Christ?
It is primarily a plea for religious unity based upon the Bible. In a divided religious world it is believed that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which most, if not all, of the God-fearing people of the land can unite. This is an appeal to go back to the Bible. It is a plea to speak where the Bible speaks and to remain silent where the Bible is silent in all matters that pertain to religion. It further emphasizes that in everything religious there must be a “Thus saith the Lord” for all that is done. The objective is religious unity of all believers in Christ. The basis is the New Testament. The method is the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
What Does The Church Of Christ Believe About The Bible?
The original autographs of the sixty six books which make up the Bible are considered to have been divinely inspired, by which it is meant that they are infallible and authoritative. Reference to the scriptures is made in settling every religious question. A pronouncement from the scripture is considered the final word. The basic textbook of the church and the basis for all preaching is the Bible.
How Does One Become A Member Of The Church Of Christ?
In the salvation of man’s soul there are 2 necessary parts: God’s part and man’s part. God’s part is the big part, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, the sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to men constitute God’s part in salvation.
Though God’s part is the big part, man’s part is also necessary if man is to reach heaven. Man must comply with the conditions of pardon which the Lord has announced. Man’s part can clearly set forth in the following steps:
Hear the Gospel. “How shall they call on him whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
Believe. “And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Repent Of Past Sins. “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent” (Acts 17:30).
Confess Jesus as Lord. “Behold here is water; What doth hinder me to be baptized ? And Philip said, if thou believeth with all thy heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37).
Be Baptized For The Remission Of Sins. “And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Live A Christian Life. “Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
(Adapted) –submitted by Jerry Sturgill
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” To “rightly divide” the word, in essence, means to correctly handle it. How we handle God’s word has tremendous effect upon our eternal destinies. Will we be like those who twist the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16)? Will we remove or neglect parts of His revelation to us, and risk the removal of our names from the book of life (Revelation 22:19)? Or will we possess good and honest hearts that receive the word and bring forth fruit for eternal life (Luke 8:15)?
One of the rudimentary principles involved in “rightly dividing” God’s word is recognizing where it is divided – that is, to understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New. I suppose all of our Bibles have uninspired title pages that indicate this two-fold division; however, this distinction is not merely a categorization of man. On the contrary, it is stated in so many God-inspired words. In Matthew 26:28, Christ said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Hebrews 9:15 refers to our Lord Jesus Christ as “the mediator of the new testament.” If there is a “new testament,” then, by implication there must be an old testament; the new covenant made the first covenant old (Hebrews 8:13). Hebrews 10:9 says of God’s New Testament, “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” The Old Testament contains prophecies of its replacement. Jeremiah 31:31-34 is one of the clearest indications of this, a passage that the writer of Hebrews quotes in chapter 8 and verse 8 to prove his point about the new and better covenant of Christ now in force.
When did this replacing of the Old Testament take place? Well, it did not take place gradually, bit by bit. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18). Thus, Christ would fulfill all things first then the law would pass. Christ would have to die before His last will and testament would take effect. Hebrews 9:16-17 declares, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”
After His resurrection, Christ explained the fulfillment of the Old Testament to His disciples as recorded in Luke 24:44-47:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
It is the New Testament, the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), that we are amenable to today. While the Old Testament is profitable for our learning and encouragement (Romans 15:4), it is not the law by which God will judge those living today (Colossians 2:14-16). The “everlasting gospel” will be the standard by which we are judged (Revelation 14:6).