When a person hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believes it (Romans 10:17) unto the point of confessing that faith with their mouth (Romans 10:9-10) and with the actions of repenting and being baptized in the name of the Lord for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), the Lord adds that saved person to the Church (Acts 2:41, 47) Jesus said He would build (Matthew 16:18-19), did purchase with His own blood (Acts 20:28), and will deliver up to the Father in the End (1 Corinthians 15:24). Being a part of the “universal” Church of the Lord, this Christian desires to and does join himself to a local church of the Lord (Acts 9:26-28; 14:28; 18:11, 18; 20:7-12).
At this point, a question arises: is anything expected of this Christian and member of a local church? If so, then what is expected of him?
Absolutely, when a Christian joins himself to a local church, there are biblical expectations for him. We know this because three reasons. One, we know this because of how the church is described in Scripture. It is described as a Body (Ephesians 1:22-23), a Family (Ephesians 2:19-20), a Temple (Ephesians 2:21-22), a Kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:20-21), and other ways. Each way implies a responsibility to those who are a member of each group; each member is expected to do its part for the benefit of the group (Ephesians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Two, we know this because of the role of the leaders in the local church (i.e., the elders). Elders are to shepherd the church of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4) and the church is to submit to those who rule over them (Hebrews 13:17). Without a doubt, this implies an expectation of all involved. And, three, we know this because of “church discipline.” This occurs when expectations are not met (Matthew 18:15-20). So, despite what many practice (whether they believe it or not), there are biblical expectations for a Christians, a member of a local church.
So, what is expected of this member of a local church? One, he is expected to obey the Word of God. We must obey those who rule over us (Hebrews 13:17) and to whom does this relate more than our Lord?! We must obey His word (John 14:15), whatever He says. Two, he is expected to serve the Lord. This is part of being a citizen of the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20-4:1). This is what the Church does here (Hebrews 12:28) and will do in Heaven (Revelation 22:3). Three, he is expected to earnestly defend the faith (Jude 3) and fight for the faith (1 Timothy 6:12) as a soldier of the cross (2 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-18). Four, he is expect to serve as a royal priest (1 Peter 2:9-10), being a son of the Most High King (Revelation 4) and being under the Most High Priest (Hebrews 7-9). We are to serve our God and Savior in many ways, congregational worship being one of them. We must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) and never forsake the assembling of ourselves together to do such (Hebrews 10:24-27). Five, he is expected to edify the local church (Ephesians 4:11-16). We are expected to edify with our presence (Hebrews 10:24-27), with our words (Ephesians 4:29), and with every other way we can (Romans 14:19). Six, he is expected to fulfill the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). Because “the fields are white for the harvest,” we must be busy “bring in the sheaves” (John 4:35), saving the Lost by humbly and gently preaching the Gospel of Jesus in love (2 Timothy 2:24-26; Romans 1:16-17; Ephesians 4:15). Seven, he is expected to grow and bear good fruit (2 Peter 3:18; Galatians 5:22-25). Eight, he is expected to hold the other members of his church family accountable to the Lord and to the family, even to the point of practicing discipline (Matthew 18:15-20; James 5:19-20). And, Nine, in all of this, he is expected to keep himself spiritually pure and perfect holiness in his life (James 1:27; 2 Corinthians 7:1).
Though this is an incomplete list, it should be clear that there are many biblical expectations a Christian and church member have to the Lord, to themselves, and to the local church of which they are a member. May we ever strive meet these expectations and help each other to meet them! May the Lord be with us in this noble endeavor!
In Hebrews 6:1-3, the inspired writer tells us that baptism is an elementary principle of the Gospel. Unfortunately, so many people in the religious world are confused by it and don’t really understand what it is. This is why, in this article, we will biblically address eight things baptism is.
1. Baptism is a procedure. The Greek words from which we get the word “baptism” mean “to dip; to overwhelm; to immerse, submerge, and emerge.” And, this is definitely what we see practiced in the New Testament. In John 3:23, John was baptizing in the Jordan River in a place where there was “much water.” When John baptized Jesus, both of them went down into the water and both of them came up out of the water (Matthew 3). When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, both went down into the water and both came up out of the water (Acts 8:35-39). On just a procedural level, this is what baptism is: going into “much water,” going under “much water,” and coming up out of “much water.” With that said, it is unfortunate that so many people believe that they have been baptized because they had water sprinkled or poured on their heads at some point; those things aren’t baptism and those who have been sprinkled or poured on haven’t been biblically baptized.
2. Baptism is something Jesus commanded. He commanded His disciples to go make more disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. In order to do that, they were to preach the Gospel to everyone everywhere and baptize those who believe (Mark 16:15-16). And, then, those disciples were to go and preach and baptize more people (Matthew 28:20). Now, because it is something Jesus commanded, baptism is not an optional sort of thing. It’s not something someone can take or leave, do or not do. If someone wants to be a disciple of Jesus, then they must obey the command to be baptized. Anyone who is not baptized is not yet a disciple of Jesus.
3. Baptism is the natural response of one who has heard and believed the Gospel. Jesus said that is was in Mark 16:15-16. And, this is what we see in the book of Acts (2:38-41; 8:5, 12-13, 35-39; 9:12-18; 10:44-48; 16:14-15; 18:8; 19:1-9). Since this is the case, if someone has heard the Gospel and hasn’t been baptized, then they don’t yet fully believe the Gospel; otherwise, they’d be baptized.
4. Baptism is the washing away of one’s sins. This is what Ananias explained to Paul in Acts 22:16. It is in the waters of baptism that we come in contact with the redeeming blood He shed for us on the cross (1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 6:3-5). And, it is when we have His blood applied that we are forgiven and saved. Another way of putting it is that baptism is the method of salvation (1 Peter 3:21). As such, anyone who has not been baptized has not yet been forgiven, redeemed, or saved because their sins have not yet been washed away.
5. Baptism is how we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter says as much on Pentecost (Acts 2:38). And, Paul said as much in Ephesians 1:3-14. Without baptism, one does not have the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-9).
6. Baptism is how we are born into, conveyed into, and added to the Kingdom of Jesus, the Church. Jesus said that we must be “born again” with “water and the Spirit” to enter the Kingdom (John 3:3-5). Peter makes clear what that “new birth” is: baptism (Acts 2:38). When we are baptized, God adds/conveys us into the Kingdom/Church (Acts 2:41, 47; Colossians 1:13-14). If someone has not been baptized, then they are not in the Kingdom or the Church of Jesus Christ.
7. Baptism is a declaration of conversion and commitment. In Acts 2:38, Peter said to “Repent and be baptized.” In Acts 3:19, he says the same thing in a different way: “Repent and be converted.” In the Bible, being baptized is equivalent to being converted. It is the moment of true conversion, from the old life of sin to the walking in the newness of life (Romans 6; Ephesians 4:17-25; Colossians 3:12-17). It is the defining moment when we say to God and man that one is no longer living for himself but for the Lord (Galatians 2:20). As such, without baptism, one is not yet converted.
8. Baptism is a proclamation of His Return. When one is baptized, they are declaring their faith that Jesus will return to call everyone to the Judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10) and the faithful Home to Heaven (Romans 6:5; John 5:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Baptism proclaims that they are ready for His Return. Without it, one isn’t truly ready for Jesus to return.
Baptism is all of these things and more. It is important, necessary, and something everyone should do if they haven’t already. May those who have not yet been baptized hear, believe, and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ unto salvation!
This past Sunday, I preached a lesson on why some people aren’t glad to come to worship God as a church. As a result of them not being glad, these people either don’t come or they let you know that they aren’t happy to be there (and you end up kind of wishing they hadn’t come). And, we talked about what all of us can do about it.
I’ll admit, that was an uncomfortable lesson. It was uncomfortable for me to preach. And, I’m sure that it was uncomfortable for people to hear. But, needed lessons are often uncomfortable lessons.
With all of that said, I wanted to turn this discussion on its head. Instead of looking at the issue from a negative perspective, I want for us to understand some reasons why all of us should attend every worship service. So, here are ten good, Biblical reasons (in no particular order) why everyone should attend every worship service.
1. God commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We have a responsibility to our fellow Christians to encourage and exhort them to be faithful until the Judgment Day. To forsake the assemblies is sin (Hebrews 10:24-27).
2. It’s what Jesus did. Jesus went to the synagogue every Sabbath “as was His custom” (Luke 4:16). He was raised to go to Jerusalem to the feasts every year (Luke 2:41). Even in the face of certain death, Jesus went to worship as He (as a Jew) was commanded to go. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we are going to follow His example and assemble with the saints to worship every time.
3. It’s where Jesus is. Specifically, on Sundays, when we partake of the Lord’s Supper as a church (Acts 20:7), He is with us as He promised to be (Matthew 26:26-30). But, in general, whenever the church assembles in His name, He is there with us (Matthew 18:20). If we are Christians, then we are going to spend as much time with our Savior and Lord as is possible on this side of eternity.
4. It’s what the New Testament Church did. From its conception, the church “continued steadfastly” together (Acts 2:40-43). As a matter of fact, they weren’t just together on Sundays and some other time during the week, they “continued daily with one accord” (Acts 2:44-47). If we are following the example of the 1st Century Church, then we’re going to look for MORE opportunities to assemble and worship together than look for excuses to forsake the current opportunities that we have.
5. It’s where we’re supposed to teach and edify one another (Romans 14:19; 15:1-3; Ephesians 4:12-16; Hebrews 3:12-14). This is one of the reasons why we are to sing as a church (Ephesians 5:18-21; Colossians 3:16-17) and study the Scriptures together as a church (1 Timothy 4:13). This is one of the reasons why we partake of the Lord’s Supper as a church (1 Corinthians 11:26).
6. It’s what we’re supposed to seek FIRST (Matthew 6:33). If we put any other activity in front of our assembling together to worship and edify, then that’s not really seeking the Kingdom, the church, FIRST, is it? Rather, it is idolatry, something from which we are to flee (1 Corinthians 10:14).
7. It’s where we are all needed (1 Corinthians 12). Maybe we don’t understand this as much as we should. Do we really understand that we need each other? Yeah, a human body can get along without a pinky toe or an appendix or even one kidney. But, the spiritual body which is the church needs every part because every part is vitally important to the spiritual health and growth of the church. If we’re not with the church, then the church can’t maintain whatever health that it has and it will have a very hard time growing like it should.
8. It’s where we bring visitors (1 Corinthians 14:23). We talk about bringing visitors to church all the time. Now, why would we expect unbelievers to go to church if believers won’t go? When unbelievers (and even some believers!) see believers not make attending every service THE priority, then they are not going to see it as important either and they won’t come. We need to let our light shine by taking every opportunity to assemble together (Matthew 5:14-16).
9. It’s a good thing to do. What is better than assembling with likeminded saints to worship the great and good, the righteous and merciful God and loving Savior in spirit and in truth and to encourage and be encouraged to worship Him better than we ever have before? The answer is: MORE of it! It is the best thing in the world we can do. Why wouldn’t we want to do it MORE than we already do?! (Might I add here that, since it is a good thing to do, to not do it is sin, James 4:17).
10. It’s where we glorify God. Obviously, we are glorify God everywhere and in whatever we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). What could glorify God better than obeying Him and worshipping Him and communing with Him and edifying each other in Him?!
Friends, there are so many more things we could say. But, do we really need to at this point? No. The point is made. It is a good and reasonable thing to attend every worship assembly. So, let’s do it and encourage each other to be more faithful to the Lord, more than we ever have before! And, let’s do it all to the glory of God!
Everyone who is married or wants to be married one day has something in common: they want to have the best marriage possible. No matter how good their marriage is right now, they want it to be better. Ultimately, everyone wants a happy marriage.
With that said, the question is often asked, “How does someone get a happy marriage?” That’s a great question with some great answers, some good answers, a lot of not-so-good answers, and even more really horrible answers.
Well, since it is vanity to try and build a home without God (Psalm 127) AND since God has “given us all things which pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:2-4) in His Holy Word, I thought that it would be wise to get some of the best answers to our question from the best source. And, the answers we’re going to get come from the Master Lesson from the Master Teacher, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). For this article, we’re just going to focus on Matthew 5.
The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). In general, these are attitudes which will cause us to live blessed (or “happy”) lives. These can be more specifically applied to the marriage relationship. If you want to get a happy marriage, then get these attitudes in your life. Listen to what Jesus says. He tells us (1) to be humble, (2) to be truly sorry when we do something wrong, (3) to exercise self-control, (4) to always stand up for and try to do what is morally and spiritually right, (5) to be merciful, (6) to always strive to make peace, and (7) to always be and do these things no matter what. Folks, all failed marriages fail because one or both parties involved fail to live like this. And, every successful marriage succeeds because both parties live like this. So, if you want a happy marriage, then continually apply the Beatitudes to your life and, specifically, your marriage.
Later on in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus goes on to say that, if someone has a problem with you for something wrong you’ve done, then it is your responsibility to go and try to make things right (Matthew 5:21-26). How needed is this in marriage?! So often, one spouse does something to (intentionally or unintentionally) hurt the other. And, so often, the offender doesn’t try to reconcile with the offended. As a result, unrest arises in the relationship. Folks, if you want a happy marriage, then (1) don’t offend your spouse. But, if you do, then (2) quickly do whatever you have to in order to make things right again!
In the next few verses, Jesus specifically speaks to the marriage relationship (Matthew 5:27-37). Basically, He says that if you’ve vowed to uniquely love someone forever, then you need to be faithful in action and even in thought to that person. How often is a marriage cheated from happiness because one or both spouses commits adultery or engages in pornography or even just has wandering eyes attached to a wandering mind?! Folks, if we want happy marriages, then we need to be completely faithful to our spouses.
In the last part of Matthew 5 (vss. 38-48), Jesus talks about how we ought to treat those with whom we are in conflict. So often, we want revenge when someone has done us wrong. So often, we want to punish those we don’t like at the moment, even if they haven’t really done anything to us. Jesus teaches a better way to live. He tells us that we ought to love those with who we are in conflict. And, boy, does every marriage need more love! Folks, in your marriages, be over-accommodating. Love until it hurts and, when it hurts and then love even more! A marriage can not be a happy relationship without true love.
So, how do you get a happy marriage? You get and keep one by listening to Jesus, who is the perfect example of a loving spouse (Ephesians 5:25-27). So, listen to Jesus and always keep listening to Him and enjoy a truly happy marriage!
Recently, we looked at half of the claim made by Muhammad in the Quran that he, Islam’s “prophet,” was found described in the Torah and the Gospel (Sura 7:157). The half that we looked at was the claim that Muhammad can be found described in the Torah (ie, Genesis-Deuteronomy), specifically in Deuteronomy 18:14-22. In Deuteronomy 18, God speaks of the Prophet would come after Moses and lead His people. Muslims claim that this Prophet was Muhammad. But, an examination of this Scripture will bring any honest person to the correct conclusion that Muhammad is NOT the Prophet found described in the Torah (or, in fact, anywhere in the Old Testament). Rather, this Prophet can ONLY be Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Now, we are going to look at the other half of the claim. Muslims claims that Muhammad was described in the Gospel, specifically in John 14-16; they claim that Muhammad is the Helper/Comforter/Counselor which Jesus said would come after Him to lead God’s people.
Now, before we look at any of the specific verses, let’s consider the context. The greater context of John 13-17 is what we often call “Jesus’ Farewell Discourse” because these are the last words and deeds Jesus gave specifically to His Apostles before His Crucifixion (John 13:1-4). So, when we read the specific verses which reference the Counselor (whom Muslims claim is Muhammad), we must keep in mind that everything said about the Counselor is in reference to the Apostles.
Now, just like God gave us clear qualifications to help us correctly identify the Prophet, He’s done the same for the Counselor. First, the Counselor would be sent by Jesus (John 15:26) from God (John 14:16, 26) to them. Second, the Counselor would already be known by them, but not by the “world” (John 14:17). Third, the Counselor would be with them and in them forever (John 14:16-17). Four, the Counselor would interact with them. Five, He would remind them of the words Jesus spoke to them during His earthly ministry, He would teach them everything they weren’t ready for during that time, and He would guide them into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13-15). Six, the Counselor would testify about Jesus, helping them to help others understand the truth of Jesus (John 15:26). And, Seven, the Counselor would be, quite blatantly, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; Acts 1-2; Joel 2).
Folks, without an honest doubt, the Counselor is the Holy Spirit, the One whom Muslims deny even exists! The Counselor is NOT Muhammad!
Now, when you consider that Muslims claim these two incredibly false things, things which are easily understood to be damnably false, you have to wonder why they would make these claims. Folks, understand who the Prophet is; He is Lord Jesus, the Son. And, understand who the Counselor is; He is God, the Holy Spirit. There is a reason why Muhammad and his followers deny that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God and why Muhammad is the Prophet and the Counselor: it’s because Muhammad wants to be God! And, in fact, he IS the false “god” of Islam!
Muhammad is a false prophet, a false counselor, and a false god. As such, not a single person should listen to him or to any of his misguided followers (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Instead, we must listen to the truth, Jesus (John 14:6; Hebrews 1:1-2) and those who spoke and wrote His words by the counsel of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21). And, we must help those who are in opposition to the truth (i.e., Muslims) come to know and believe the truth before it is everlastingly too late for them (2 Timothy 2:24-26). So, let us be good servants of God and shine the truth of Jesus in every dark corner to His glory!