THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
PROGRAM AIR DATE: 7-18-10
LESSON TITLE: “THE GLORIOUS CHURCH: THERE IS BUT ONE CHURCH”
“…Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Just how much do you love your God on this wondrous Lord’s Day morning? I hope it is with every fiber of your being, with the totality of your human nature!
Thanks for joining us this day for God’s Living Word. Let me remind us again of just how blessed we are to have opportunities like this to praise our God and to do those things which are according to His will. Are you willing to do your part this morning to make this time successful in the service of God?
Now, as we begin our offering to God, will you bow with me in prayer!
What better way to worship God than in song. So at this time let’s join together in our first hymn of the day, it’s name, “Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary.”
(SONG # 1)
As we begin this morning, let’s continue to focus on the love which we are to have for our Creator. A love that is required of all who will follow Jesus and obey His will.
However, let’s consider for a moment just how important it is that we love God? As we read from Matthew 22:37, at the beginning of our program, we learn that this was the “first and greatest command,” from God almighty Himself! Let me remind you that these were also the very words of Jesus Christ, which He was proclaiming to His disciples. I would say that if God has said we must do it, then it must be very important.
Along these same lines, I remember a day in the history of Israel, when Joshua challenged God’s people to love their God. In chapter 23, and verse 11 of his book, we read, “Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God.” In the context, Joshua had reminded Israel of all that God had done, and was doing for them. He was caring for them, guiding them and protecting them. In fact, in verse 10, he went so far as to say that God had even fought for them against the wicked nations of Canaan. So what a beautiful thought Joshua is placing before the people of God here, as he reminds them to be careful how they deal with such a powerful and mighty Creator. God truly deserves and requires complete respect and reverence.
Brethren, the reality is, our God requires the same today. He wants our love, service and obedience. He has asked us to submit to His will and do all that He has commanded. However, He has not asked us to obey or to follow, without first doing His part and showing His wondrous love and concern in each of our lives. You see, God first loved us and proved it through all that He has done and is doing for us. Therefore, we should also love Him, through a clearly seen obedience of those things which He has required of us through His Word. Are you showing this type of love to your God? Isn’t He worthy of our complete love, considering all that He has done for us? Will you choose this day to, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Today we will be continuing our series entitled, “The Glorious Church!” Our lesson of the day will deal with the thought that, “There Is But One Church!” So stay with us this morning, and after our next song together, we will be lead in our main thoughts of the day.
As far as our guest speaker, we are happy to have brother Chuck Northrop with us. Brother Chuck is an instructor at the Bible Institute of Missouri and one of the ministers at the Kansas Expressway Church of Christ. We thank him for joining us to lead our main thoughts of the day. Well, for now let’s join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “Blest Be The tie That Binds.”
(SONG # 2)
By Chuck Northrop
Welcome to our broadcast of “The Living Word” program. We appreciate you and we appreciate your interest in spiritual matters.
With a casual look through the New Testament scriptures we find that there is but one body of Christ. An example of that is 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verses 12-13. In that beautiful passage, Paul is describing for us the body of Christ and with the various members of it. When we talk about the body of Christ, we are talking about a human body and we are talking about the various members of that human body, whether it is the head, or the mouth, or the eyes, the hands, the feet, or whatever it might be, these various members of that body. The Corinthian church was made up of various members and those members then were of that body of Christ. But notice the number of bodies that we’re talking about.
In 1 Corinthians 12 and verses 12 and 13, and this is what Paul wrote. “For as the body is one and has many members and all of the members of that one body be many or one body, so also is Christ. For by one spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or gentile, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink of that one spirit.”
Another such passage that we can look to, to show that there is one body is the book of Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 4, and we’ll read through verse 6. We find seven ones concerning the body of Christ or concerning the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Verse 6 said there is “one body.” It goes on to say that not only is there one body, but there is “one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all.”
One last passage that we are going to look at is in the book of Colossians. In Colossians chapter 3 and verse 15 we again find another passage that deals with the one body. There he wrote in chapter 3 verse 15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts to the which ye are called in one body and be thankful.”
Now thinking about this one body, we have to identify what the body of Christ is. Well we go back to chapter 1 and verse 18 of the book of Colossians and we find out what the one body is. In Colossians 1 verse 18, Paul wrote, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, and in all things that He might have preeminence.” Now notice He is the head of the body, the church. The body and the church are one and the same.
We go back also to the book of Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 1 verses 22-23, Paul wrote, “And hath put all things under His feet and gave men to be head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”
So in scripture we find that there is one body and the one body is the church. But then the question becomes, “Well, now wait a minute, preacher. I thought that if there was only one body and there are many denominations out here, then what is that one body? What is that one church?”
You know when we think about things like that, we have to look to the scriptures to find the various identifying characteristics of it. Think for a moment. You’re in an old room and there is a lot of old junk in there and you are scavenging through that and you find a document and that document is signed by Abraham Lincoln. Would you think it as valuable? Well most likely so. But you have to authenticate that document. You have to authenticate that signature to find out if it is really Abraham Lincoln’s signature, so you look for characteristics. You look at the characteristics of the paper and whether the paper was produced in the 1860’s. You look at the characteristics of the ink. You look at the characteristics of the letters themselves. Are they like the letters that Abraham Lincoln made? Well when we look at those various characteristics we can identify it whether it is authentic or not and so it is with the church.
We look to the Old Testament to find out some of the identifying characteristics about it. Then we can examine ourselves and examine the denomination or sectarian body that we are a member of and whether it is truly the church you read about in the Bible. What are some identifying characteristics? I wish we had time to really deal with the various characteristics of that, but I can only give you a quick summary of those things.
A first characteristic that we are going to deal with, although the order of them is not important, but the first characteristic is that it has the right message. Within so many churches today you hear a message of sociology or a message of psychology, but within the scriptures we learn that the message was the gospel. Paul wrote to the Romans and said in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” So it is the power of God! Our message is not a message of history. It is not a message to the social gospel. It is not a message of feeling good. It’s a message from the scriptures. What about the church where you attend? Is it a message that we find within the Bible or a message of man, of some type?
Another characteristic is the church was founded upon Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3 and verse 11, Paul writing to the church at Corinth said, “Other foundations can no man lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ.” Jesus is the foundation! It isn’t founded upon a doctrine. It isn’t founded upon a man. It isn’t founded upon anyone other than Jesus Christ Himself. Now what about the church that you are a member of? Is it founded upon and solidly founded upon Jesus Christ, when Jesus established His church? I hope that it is.
Another characteristic that we can examine is the name of the church. When you look at the scriptures and we look at the New Testament we find that the Bible very clearly identifies various characteristics of the church by the name that it attributes to it. These names are not names for just the sake of names like sometimes we are named after, but it is a characteristic about it. It is like an old adage of different places in the world where they’re named for the first thing they see or some characteristic of that person, and so it is with the church. Jesus then gave the church its name. We call it the church of Christ. Romans 16 and verse 16, “The churches of Christ salute you.” So in a collective sense it is a church that belongs to Jesus Christ and that’s what is identified with the name of the church. In Matthew 16 and verse 18, Jesus said, “I will build My church.” He didn’t say, “I will build somebody else’s church.” He didn’t say, “I will build a church named concerning its doctrine.” He didn’t say anything like that. He said, “I will build My church.” Whose church? Well it is Christ’s church. And then as individuals we are called Christians and only Christians. We and the members of the Lord’s church, the churches of Christ, we don’t call ourselves “church of Christ Christians.” We don’t indentify ourselves that way. We’re just simply Christians. Nor do we use any other adjective to modify that idea of being a Christian.
Another identifying mark of the true church, the one you read about in the Bible, that is Christ’s church, is its entrance. The entrance into the Lord’s church is by faith. In Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 6, “It is impossible to please God without faith.” Then we learn that faith is necessary in order to inherit salvation. So it is in John 20 verses 30-31. Then we must not only believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, we must repent of our sins. Acts 2:38, Peter called upon those on that particular occasion on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem to repent of their wickedness. Then we find that they were to confess Christ before men. In Romans 10 verses 9-10, Paul said that, “Confession is made with the mouth unto salvation.” But notice this also, that baptism is necessary to inherit salvation. Again, Acts 2:38, “Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Baptism was necessary. It was the immersion in Christ and raised up to walk in the newness of life. Now we have to examine ourselves. Have I been baptized? Do I believe that Jesus is the Christ? Will I be willing to confess Him before men? Have I repented of my sins? Will I be willing to be immersed into Christ? Then we can identify the church that we are a member of, too. What does it teach concerning salvation? Does it teach faith only? Does it teach baptism only? Does it teach or omit anything in addition to those things? You see, those are identifying marks and we can identify the Lord’s church in that way.
Another identifying mark is the right worship. Worship was done in the first century by five different avenues. It was done by prayer, by singing, by the collection, by the Lord’s Supper and by preaching. Any church that is going to do what the Bible authorizes as Colossians 3 verse 17 teaches, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father by Him.” If we do what is authorized in scripture, we will do those five things. What about the church that you are a member of?
Now the next thing, the next identifying characteristic is the characteristic of the mission of the church. Now as we look into the world we find that there are all kinds of missions that people have for the Lord’s church. We are looking at: What does the Bible teach concerning the Lord’s mission for the church? What characteristic, what identifying mark does it have? Well Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 12, here we find this particular thing. He says, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” Within that passage right here, we learn that the mission of the church was for the perfecting of the saints, the maturing of the saints, for the work of the ministry, that is service, benevolence that we do for other men and for the building up of the body of Christ, that is evangelism. That’s the work of the church. The work of the church is not to entertain our youth or to entertain anyone as far as that is concerned. The work of the church is not a social gospel. The work of the church is simply a spiritual institution doing a spiritual work of teaching the gospel to other men and women to help them and lead them unto salvation. What about the church you are a member of? What mission does it serve? What is it doing as far as the work is concerned? Is it doing the work that God has called us to?
Finally, we come to a last identifying characteristic that we’re going to consider as far as this lesson is concerned and that is the organization of the church. Now we alluded to that in our readings earlier. In Colossians 1 and verse 18 and also Ephesians 1 verses 22-23, we learn that Jesus Christ is the head of the church. Now if He is the head of the church then there cannot be any other head. We have to look at the various sectarian group that we might be a member of and if it does not have Jesus Christ as its head, it is NOT the church of the Bible! Now let’s honestly examine, “Who is the head of the church that I am a member of or that you are a member of? And we can identify the head sometimes by the headquarters; because you see where the head is is where the headquarters of the church is. What about the church you are a member of? Is its headquarters in heaven where its head is, where Jesus Christ is? I certainly hope so. But if not, then we ask you to reconsider and look at these identifying marks and if you’re a member of a church that does not have these varying characteristics and identifying marks, then do think about and give honest consideration to the things that we have talked about.
If we can help you in any way, we want you to let us know. If we can answer some questions that you might have, then please let us know in some way. Write to us or call us or do whatever is necessary. We truly do appreciate you and we want you to be saved. We want you to have the salvation that you can enjoy in Christ Jesus. If you’re able to let us know, then please do so either by phone or by letter. Any way that you can. We appreciate you so much. Won’t you come again and be with us next week?
(SONG # 3 - “Count Your Many Blessings!”)
What a blessing it has been to join together in the things of God this morning. Thank you for doing your part in making all these things to be according to His Will. As always, we invite you back every Lord’s Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!
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Thanks be to God for the opportunity of salvation in His one and only true church, which is the body of Christ. Are you in the Kingdom which Jesus died for and purchased with His blood?