NT Tuesday: The Church, The Body of Christ [part 5]

 

Christ Preeminent

 

We continue to explore what the Bible says about the Body of Christ, the Church.

We have been using Ephesians 5:25-28 ESV – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” as our theme verse.

Today we shall explore another aspect of Jesus Christ’s relationship to the Church.

In Ephesians 5, we noted that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. In other words, He purchased her with His own precious blood. It was the only way by which lost souls could be ransomed, sins could be forgiven and God could be satisfied. Because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, sinners can be called out and set apart for God’s purposes and in Christ’s Church.

 


The Head of the Church



 

We remarked, albeit briefly, that the Church is the Body of Christ. And, just as our human bodies have a head, so does the Church. The Church’s Head is Jesus Christ.

In Colossians 1:18-20 ESV, we have an inarguable affirmation of this. “And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

As a side note, it confuses me how a statement so clear can be so ignored by people who profess to be part of the Body of Christ. Christ is the Head! That means that NO ONE else could possibly be the Head. No man, now or ever, could or should take the place of Jesus Christ. Not Peter, not Paul, and no one today.

Much is in the news about a man who leads a denomination of professing Christians and his plans to retire. This mere man is often referred to as the head of the church. Dear loved ones, this man is not the head of the Church! Jesus Christ is and — praise His name Jesus is not retiring! I do not write this to cast aspersions, rather I must write this because the Word of God demands that truth be defended and taught.

 


Prominent or Preeminent?



 

Equally undeniable is the fact that, as Head, Jesus has the right to be preeminent in all things. That means He gets the first place, the most important position, the top priority in everything that we do – as a Body and as members of the body. One dear brother said, “It is easy to have Christ as prominent, but there is quite a difference when He is preeminent.”

For most reading this little blog, Jesus Christ probably plays a prominent role in your life, but, dear ones, is He preeminent? This is a challenge to my heart, as well!

Next week, we will continue looking at the role of Jesus Christ as Head of the Church. Praise His name!

 

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NT Tuesday: Should We ‘Keep the Sabbath?’ Part 2

calendarRest is now found in a Person not in a Day.

As mentioned last week, we are going to examine the relationship between the believer in Christ and the necessity of keeping the Sabbath. We concluded that there was three conclusions that are most often reached when thinking about this topic.

As a review, they are, as follows:

  1. the Christian must keep the seventh day Sabbath.
  2. the Christian must keep the Sabbath (as described in the Law), but that the Sabbath is now the first day rather than the seventh.
  3. the Christian is not obligated to keep the Sabbath in any way, shape or form.

We covered numbers 1 and 2 in last week’s blog. And just for full disclosure, I am in agreement with conclusion number 3. Furthermore, I think that any reasonable person examining the full preponderance of Biblical testimony on this subject would conclude the same thing. Finally, just to keep you all in suspense, I believe that the Bible speaks clearly about the Lord’s Day and how we should view that and that will be my topic when I return in 2013 (specifically January 8, 2013).

Continued…

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NT Tuesday: Festivals & Holidays

Legalism Rules Road SignTherefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. – Colossians 2:16-17 ESV

As I was writing last week’s post on secular vs. sacred, I was also considering the idea of “keeping the Sabbath.” In the location where I was preaching, there was a heavy influence on people’s thinking from those who profess to know Christ but require that you “keep the Sabbath” and specifically keep Saturday as a Sabbath. I am not sure how such things develop such a following, especially when the Word of God seems to me to be so clear on such issues.

Before Paul warned the saints in Colossae what to ignore, he described our new life in Christ. He wrote that we should walk (continue in our relationship with Him) in the same way we received Him – by faith – not by works, deeds, etc. He also reminds us that we were buried with Christ in baptism and we are risen with Him as well. Elsewhere we are told that we now “walk in newness of life.”

Continued…

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NT Tuesday: Bearing & Forgiving One Another

Forgive One AnotherLast week took a week off, kind of, to discuss the concept of modesty as described in the New Testament. This week we will return to the “one another” verses and discuss the practical applications and relevance of following these verses as a requirement for fulfilling our responsibility of being New Testament principle practicing Christians.

This week’s (and next week’s) blog will be on the idea of “bearing with one another” and “forgiving each other.” Paul writes in Colossians 3:12-13 ESV, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.

Similar thoughts are also shared in Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV. There Paul writes, “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord urge you to walk in the manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…”

 


Bearing With One Another



 

Let’s first look at the idea of “bearing with one another.” The idea of bearing is based on the word “forbear.” To forbear is to refrain from or forgo exercising one’s rights when offended or wronged. For example, if a police officer stops you when you were speeding, and he chooses not to give you a ticket, in essence, he has exercised “forbearance” on behalf of the state. He had every right to give you (or me) a ticket, but he chose not to do so. If you miss a loan payment, the bank could chose to repossess your house, but it might chose to forbear and allow you time to straighten things out.

Likewise, as Christians, we are often wronged by others and we often wrong others. Not every wrong must be addressed. In other words, we don’t need to demand an apology and confession every time someone wrongs us. In fact, it would be a good exercise to chose to forbear in many, many instances.

Because believers have a sense of what is right and wrong, as defined from the Bible, we are often inclined toward correcting the wrong and making it right. Does God do that to us? Yes, I know, every one of our sins has been forgiven and has been paid for on the cross of Calvary by our lovely Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, it would be far more Christ like to forbear when offended than demand an apology every time we are offended. In my experience, people who are easily offended are usually people who are not very happy. They tend to cause division in assemblies. They tend to have a lot of broken relationships and they usually don’t add much to the functioning of the local body because they are too busy being offended and demanding that the wrong be made right.

 


Tolerance & Patience Vs. Provocation



 

Another idea of “bearing with one another” is the idea that we tolerate and patient in the face of provocation. The best solution in dealing with each other is being very patient and tolerate each other’s weaknesses (not sins, but weaknesses). Does the Lord bear with us? Of course the answer is YES, therefore, we ought to emulate His conduct, because we are united with Him and walk in newness of life with Him. It’s not our life, but His that we live. Therefore, our life should look like His.

Until next week, fulfill your ministry!

[photo credit]

 

 

 

 

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The Fullness of God

An astounding truth is presented to us in the Word of God. Colossians 1:19 tells us…

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell”


And in Colossians 2:9 Paul goes on to say…

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”


To the Christian this makes sense even though we don’t quite fully grasp it. Jesus Christ is the fullness of God. Everything that Jesus did, said and thought on earth was in exact alignment with the Father and the Spirit. The Lord would say to His disciples, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”   Even Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was no ordinary man.

Now that we have the complete Scriptures we know that not only did Jesus claim to be God but He backed it up with signs and proofs so that we could believe it. We are also taught further about His deity by the apostles.  While the humanity of God is not something we can ever fully understand there is something that to me is even tougher to take in.  Listen to what Paul tells us he prays for in Ephesians 3:19…

“…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”


If it wasn’t written in God’s Word we would be cast out for even suggesting this could be possible. But not only does Paul suggest it but he goes on to explain it.  Brothers and sister WE can be filled with the fullness of God. WOW!! I know this week my mind is going to be wrestling with all that this truth means in my life but just to meditate on the magnitude of what God has done for us should cause us to worship Him.

Praise to the Lord who has done wonderful things for us. Only to Him be glory and majesty and praise!

 

 

 

 

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Entry Level Theological Truth [28]

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

The title of Tears For Fears’ 80’s pop anthem “Everybody wants to rule the world” hits on a basic truth about humanity: people innately desire to command their own lives and circumstances. Of course, the reality is far different. Many live like the embodiment of Henley’s skeptically poetic lines:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
1

 

Yet the sad truth is that men are not in control of their fate, lives, or world. This inner yearning for control with its correlative quest for personal knowledge and enlightenment are artifacts from the fall. From the garden of Eden onwards, Satan has peddled the lie to humanity “…you will be like God”2, holding forth the promise of self-sufficiency for wayward humanity.

 


A Faustian Temptation



 

The serpent implies to Eve that the Almighty does not want competition by saying this: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5.) In other words, Adam and she will know what God knows and be able to decide for themselves concerning the nature of good and evil. Contemporary people also find this lie attractive. They erroneously believe that they are their own arbiter of truth and can determine good and evil for themselves. But God is the standard of truth in Himself; apart from Him humans do not have the capacity to escape evil and achieve lasting, eternal good.

Of course, the Lord does not want man to be ignorant; He is a God who reveals Himself and gives light through His Word (Ps. 119:130.) He wants people to walk in the light with Him (1 Jn. 1:5-7.) That is, God wants them to discover knowledge in Him. Good is what agrees with His character and will (these things are explicitly revealed by what He commands and teaches in His Word.) In Christ – the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) – believers find the truth about God and themselves (Jn. 14:6.)

 


Rejecting Destructive Independence



 

The essence of sin is rebellion against God – a treasonous act of disloyalty to the One who made mankind. When one sins, they dethrone God in their life and place themselves squarely on the throne. As Stott pointedly said: “Every sin is a surrender to the primeval temptation to become like God.”3 When they sin, they are saying in effect: “I know better than God what is good for me; abstaining from this act would be evil – I must do it.”

 


Sharing In The Life That God Has For Us



 

Christian sanctification is the process by which our Creator and Redeemer works out the new life in His new creature’s lives. The more that the saints walk with Christ, the more they learn to deny self in favor of obedience to God. A nineteenth century preacher put it well:

The first object from which our heavenly Father weans His child is self. Of all idols, he finds self the hardest to abandon. When man in Paradise aspired to be as God, God was dethroned from his soul, and the creature became as a deity to itself. From that moment, the idolatry of self has been the great and universal crime of our race, and will continue to be until Christ comes to restore all things. In the soul of the regenerate, Divine grace has done much to dethrone this idol, and to reinstate God. The work, however, is but partially accomplished. The dishonored and rejected rival is not eager to relinquish his throne, and yield to the supreme control and sway of another. There is much yet to be achieved before this still indwelling and unconquered foe lays down his weapons in entire subjection to the will and the authority of that Savior, whose throne and rights he has usurped…The moment we learn to cease from ourselves–from our own wisdom, and power, and importance–the Lord appears and takes us up. Then His wisdom is displayed, His power is put forth, His glory is developed, and His great name gets to itself all the praise. It was not until God had placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, that His glory passed by. Moses must be hid, that God might be all.4

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1William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”; found here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/invictus/ Accessed on 6/5/12.

2Or “gods” according to some translations; either rendering of elohim is permissible in Hebrew. If one thinks of Elohim as a proper title for God – as in Gen. 1:1 – than it is “God” (NKJV, JND, & ESV.) If, however, the serpent was using the term generically of Adam and Eve, then “gods” would be the correct translation (KJV; “divine beings” NET; see Ps. 82:1, 6 – especially note the margin of the NKJV.) It is a question of emphasis: is he saying they will be like God, emphasizing that they could achieve the same level as their Creator? Or is he affirming that they will be little gods who can decide things for themselves apart from their Maker? Either way, it is a sinful declaration of independence from the God who is the truth.

3J.R.W. Stott, Christ the Controversialist. London: Tyndale Press; Downers Grove: IVP, 1970, p. 207.

4Octavius Winslow, from the blog: http://octaviuswinslow.org/ Accessed on 7/30/10.

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Which Church? New Testament Churches Were Instructed By A Number Of Preachers

Which Church?

In Christendom, a system has developed that we call the clerical system, in which one man has almost the sole responsibility of preaching to a congregation week by week. That practice is not based on the teaching of the Bible. In New Testament times, in each local church, a number of men had responsibility for ministering to God’s people. Indeed, every believer had some part to play, for the assembly is likened to a human body with each member playing a vital role. Every believer has been endowed with a spiritual gift that has to be employed for the good of the whole body. To pay one man to bear almost the whole responsibility of helping God’s people is a contradiction of the ‘body of Christ’ aspect of the local church, 1 Corinthians 12:27.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [11]

The term “work” often conjures up images of drudgery, fatiguing toil, and unrequited effort. To pleasure-loving westerners, the choice between work and play usually presents no contest. Of course, it is true that there are “workaholics” – people who thrive on mental or physical labor. Yet the high heart attack rate among hard working people shows that there is a human cost to our labor-oriented society.

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