THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 4-6-08
LESSON TITLE: "GOD'S PECULIAR PEOPLE: A PECULIAR CREED"
Welcome to the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning. We thank God that you have chosen to be with us today, as we commit this time to our wondrous Creator. What a great privilege we have today to join in this opportunity to praise our God and glorify our Savior. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
What a wonderful privilege we have as Christians to lift up our voices in praise to God. Furthermore, what a sweet smelling savor the fruit of our lips is to our Creator. So, this morning won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together our first hymn of the morning. The name of the song "O To Be Like Thee!"
(SONG # 1)
I often think about how spoiled we are today. We generally forget just how easy we have it. You don't have to look very far back in history to see those who struggled, sacrificed, suffered and died so that you and I could have the freedoms we do today. For the most part, it seems like younger generations today just don't seem to realize or understand the great sacrifice that was made by others so that they could enjoy the blessings of today.
Isn't it the same when we talk about religious things? Think about it for a moment. Throughout religious history many have also struggled, sacrificed, suffered and died. But why? For the very same reasons, so that you and I could have the freedom and blessings in Christ which we do today.
Whenever we start talking about sacrifice, the obvious one is the great event when Jesus went to the cross. It is only because of this the greatest of sacrifices, that we are able to be in Christ today. Without the shedding of Christ's blood we would not have an opportunity to be saved, nor could we receive forgiveness of sins. In Colossians 1:14, we read, "in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." Once again we see that the blood of Christ is the cleansing agent! How often do we remember the great sacrifice that Christ has made for all men.
Besides Christ, we have so many during Bible times and since, who have been willing to pay the necessary price to bring us to today. One event that sticks out in my mind is found in 1 Corinthians 11:24-28. Notice what Paul said there, "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches."
How many of us would even accept one of these trials or persecutions and still stand strong for God. Brethren, let's always remember the great sacrifice and love that has been demonstrated time and time again, by those who love God enough to prove it through actions. Let's thank God for those examples that we have that give us the abilities and freedoms we have today to be able to serve God in peaceful times. We need to all count our many blessings.
Today we will be continuing our series of study on "God's Peculiar People." Our specific topic this morning is "A Peculiar Creed." So please continue with us this morning and after our next song together we will have a guest speaker return with this lesson from God's Word.
Today we are happy to have brother Kevin Patterson with us. Brother Kevin is the minister for the HWY. 13 Church Of Christ in Bolivar, MO. He will guide our thoughts today as we study together. It's now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less."
(SONG # 2)
By Kevin Patterson
Good morning. I bring you greetings this fine Lord's Day from the Hwy. 13 Church of Christ in Bolivar, Missouri. We assemble there at a location just off of Hwy. 13 on its west outer-road south each week. We want to encourage anyone who is in our vicinity to come and visit with us any opportunity that you might have. We have on Sundays Bible studies at 9:00 a.m. in the morning followed by worship assemblies at 10:00 and also again at 6:00 p.m. that evening. We also have a mid-week Bible study on Wednesday nights at 7:00. So we certainly want to encourage you to be our honored guests and come with us and learn more about God's Word and praise His holy name.
For several weeks on this program, we have focused on a series of lessons entitled "A Peculiar People." This is a New Testament description that was given for Christians and it is found in 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 9. Reading from the King James Version, we read, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people that ye should show forth the praises of Him who have called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Various other translations use this description in this way. They describe us as "Christians as His own special people," or "people for God's own possession," or "people belonging to God." But I have always enjoyed how the King James Version renders this as "a peculiar people" because that word to us catches our attention and certainly in this day and age, in our time, we see the word "peculiar" as a word for strange or perhaps something this is not very positive, maybe even a little negative. Webster defines "peculiar" in this way: "Belonging exclusively to one person or group felt to be characteristic of one only, distinctive, different from the usual or normal, special, particular or curious." In other words, the way that the Bible is using it here is it is saying that God's people are to be a distinctive people. They're going to be different from those around us. Christians are going to be different from those around the world. We're not only going to be distinct in the eyes of God, but we are to be unique in the eyes of those who are around us.
Well, thus far in our series entitled, "A Peculiar People," we have studied how the Lord's church is unique in qualities such as its worship, its name, its speech, and its dress. Even the gospel we proclaim is different because of our desire to proclaim only the gospel of Christ. This point that leads us to the next point in our series of study, this week's lesson entitled, "A Peculiar Creed."
How is the creed of the church peculiar? Well, first of all, it's again going to be helpful for us to define the word creed. Mr. Webster again defines the word creed as "a brief authoratative formula of religious belief or a set of fundamental beliefs."
Now, do Christians have a creed? And when I reference this, I mean, do people who follow the Bible, do people who follow the New Testament Christianity, do they have a creed? Do God's special people have an authoritative formula for their religious belief? Does the church of Christ have a set of fundamental beliefs? The answer is a resounding "Yes." Where is that creed found? Where can I look it up? Where can I find it? I can find it in the Bible.
Many people have asked me over the years, "What creed do you follow, or what manual, what doctrine or statement of faith do you follow?" I say, "We have but one creed and that is God's Word, the Holy Bible." In the pages of God's Word are found not only our creed, but our authority, our authoritative basis for what we believe and why we believe that, why we believe the Bible and the Bible only, because that's exactly what the Bible teaches us we are to believe.
In 2 Timothy chapter 3 verses 16-17, the apostle Paul wrote the young preacher Timothy and said to him, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
First of all, the passage of scripture here says that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." In other words, you don't have to thumb through the Bible and determine what came from God and what did not come from God. Paul said that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God." He goes on to say, "It's profitable for us. It serves a good purpose for us. It is profitable for doctrine, for our teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, in training and in righteousness so that we can know how to live, how to do that which is right according to God.
Then it says in verse 17, "In so doing, the man of God or the one who follows God's creed, the man who follows God's Word and applies it to his life will be perfect or complete, thoroughly furnished," not lacking at all in other words, "unto good works."
Peter would write in 2 Peter chapter 1 and verse 3, "By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit nearly 2,000 years ago that as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." He said, "In the first century that all things pertaining to life and godliness had already been given to them." That means for us today that God's Word is complete and it gives us everything that we need to know in order to live and live in the hereafter.
Peter would write just a few verses down in the same chapter of 2 Peter 1 verses 20-21, "Knowing this first that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
I imagine God in His all-knowing wisdom included that verse of scripture for those who would claim that perhaps the Bible was only written by some nice men for some help, but certainly was not inspired by God Himself. The Bible teaches us that yes, men wrote those words down, but they wrote those words down on paper as God moved them to do so. They were not their words. They were God's word and it is God's Will that is revealed to us in the Bible. But the Bible still warns us, "Don't change it." That perhaps is what God saw in His foreknowledge of man that men would be inclined to do. They would not be inclined to accept God's Word as it was written, but rather it would be inclined to change it, to add things where they should not add them or to take things away where they should not take those things away. That's why perhaps in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and throughout the Bible, God teaches us to respect His Word. Nothing more, nothing less!
In Deuteronomy chapter 12 and verse 32, we read, "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it. You shall not add to it nor take away from it."
All the way in the very end of the Bible in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22 and then the last few verses, verses 18-19, God wrote to us, "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life, from the Holy City and from the things which are written in this book."
In Proverbs chapter 30 verses 5-6 we read that, "Every word of God is pure. He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His Word lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar."
1 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 6 reads, "Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.
Why would all of these passages and many more be included in the scriptures as a reminder for us to be not only happy with God's Word, but to be satisfied with God's Word, not to add to what God had to say because I can't say it any better than God can say it, and not to take things away from God because those things that I might like to take away in order to better appeal to my desires are the very things that could perhaps keep me out of heaven one day.
But don't all churches believe this? Unfortunately the answer to that question is "No." Perhaps on the surface they claim that, but not all religious groups respect the authority of the scriptures. Is the Church of Christ that peculiar in her desire to follow the Bible and the Bible only? Let me see if I can offer you some evidence that might answer that question.
So many in the religious world have found the Bible to be simply insufficient. They've chosen to adopt in addition to God's Word statements of faith, disciplines, catechisms, manuals, and other manmade documents in addition to God's Word as a basis for their faith. This is when those creeds become wrong because these creeds do not explain scripture. They replace scripture.
I have in my library at home a stack of denominational manuals and books and statements of faith and catechisms and prayer books and procedural guides that demonstrate how different religions are to be run. So many times the Bible is pushed aside into obscurity as these other publications are pushed into the forefront and are accepted not only as good guides but in fact in some cases used as the very replacements for God's Word. I brought with me today some of those documents. I want to read to you what some of those documents actually have to say in their own writing.
In one particular manual, we read in the very beginning of this book that, "A church must place its doctrines, standard of practical ethics and policy within the grasp of all of its constituents." This particular religious group has done so within this manual. Its people must come to union and strength through agreement on the basic creed, structure and government of the church." This manual is the written form of that great faith. Now this manual is not God's Word, but it says that this is the basis for their great faith and yet the Bible teaches us in Romans 10 and verse 17 that, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."
Another manual that we have this morning is one that actually claims the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. "We have therefore expected that the discipline would be administered not merely as a legal document, but as a revelation of the Holy Spirit working in and through our people."
Another book that I have in my possession actually claims to be an additional testament or an additional set of instructions from Jesus Christ Himself. On the very first line of the introduction, it claims that this particular book is a volume of Holy Scripture comparable to the Bible. It later on says and quotes its founder as having made this statement: "I told the brethren that this book was the most correct of any book on the earth and the keystone of our religion and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book."
There are people who live according to these creeds and these creeds are taking the place of God's Holy Word.
I have in my possession an actual copy of a Bible, but it's a Bible that is put out by a group that doesn't accept that Jesus Christ is God. As John 1 and verse 1 reads, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." We see down in verse 14 that "Jesus Christ was that Word, the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth." But that particular group retranslated their copy of the Bible to say that "Jesus was not the God, but was simply a little God." Well, I want you to remember the words of Jesus in John 20 verses 30-31 and truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name.
Be a peculiar people today and as the old saying says, "Concerning the Bible, accept no substitutes."
(SONG # 3 - "Mansions Over The Hilltop!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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Let's all make sure that we turn to the Word of God, rather than the creeds of men. For the Bible alone is from God and therefore it is the only guide that shows us the true path unto salvation!