Study the Word

Study the Word

Authority

“For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of souls and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV).

Let us never underestimate the power of the word of God. The inspired writer uses a clear and meaningful metaphor in describing it as a double –edged sword.

If the word of God were not active or relevant (as some claim today) it would not be called “living and powerful.” If the word of God were not understandable (as some people claim today) it would be a very dull sword, blunt and ineffective in use. If the word of God was confusing and contradictory (as some people claim today) it could not be a straight sword or one handled with any accuracy.

But as it is, it is living, powerful, sharp and true! Consider the power of the word of God:

1.   The word has the power to create faith within us (Rom. 10:17). You need not wait for some mystical, experiential force to cause you to believe. Study the evidence God has provided. Historical facts, the character of Christ and meaningful directives found in God’s word are more than enough to birth and build faith in the heart!

2.   The word has the power to illuminate our path (Ps. 119:105, 130). Left to our own devices and wisdom, we do err and sin against our neighbors, our God and ourselves. But following His revelation leads us down the pathway of life.

3.   The word has the power to comfort and strengthen us (2 Thess. 2:16-17). God uses His word to encourage and aid the faithful. Though all else may fail, the Lord never fails and by His word He holds us, helps us and heals through the many trials of life.

4.   The word has the power to provide our hope (Col. 1:23; Rom. 15:4). Hope is a confident expectation for the future. The gospel carries with it promises of the eternal home with the Lord. We see the power of Jesus to overcome death and learn from the Bible that God always keeps His promises!

5.   The word has the power to save our souls (Rom. 1:16; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). God’s power of salvation is communicated by His word. Have you heard the saving message and surrendered your life to it in humble obedience?

The Church

Are you looking for a church-home?  Are you looking for a place where Jesus Christ is exalted and praised?  Are you looking for a place that encourages family worship and development?  Are you looking for a place where the Bible is explained and not explained away?  I hope you understand how valuable the church is and I hope you know what a difference the church will make in your life.

My relationship with Jesus and His church are a big part of my life.  When I visit a church there are things I look for to know if I’d be happy, fulfilled and pleasing to God by being there.  I bet you’re looking for similar things.  Allow me to offer you some criteria for examining a religious group when searching for a spiritual home.

1. Is Jesus Christ exalted and remembered? Jesus bought the church and built the church on a firm foundation, namely, that He is who He said He is: the Savior, the son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16-18; Acts 20:28).  When I go to a church, I better see evidence that they believe, teach and practice this simple principle.  Show me that this church is Christ’s in both name and deed.  I want to hear Christ exalted and see Him remembered because the church is His!  Practically, I want to hear Christ preached, praised, His authority respected and His sacrifice remembered.  I want to take communion.  Christians in the first century took it every week, I want too also (Acts.20:7).

2. Is God worshiped by all? God is awesome and is deserving of all praise, glory and honor.  The Bible tells me that I’m supposed to sing praises to Him (Col.3:16).  When I’ve visited some churches, mainly the choir sings.  I see that they are singing praises to God but I’m just listening.  The Bible never said anything about worshipping by proxy!   I want to worship by singing to God.  I want to thank God in genuine prayers as well.  There are so many places where prayers are already written and everybody just repeats them over and over, week after week.  Jesus told us that’s not how we’re to pray (Matt.6:7-9).  True worship will be in genuine prayer and participation in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

3. Is this a sound family? The Bible describes the church as the family of God (Gal.4:4-7).  I expect to worship in a church where I feel and see the love of a family.  When no one talks to each other or they race to the door after the last “Amen”, I wonder if I’m in some kind of dysfunctional family with poor communication.

I hope to see families worshipping together as well.  In so many places, there’s “children’s church” or “youth worship” in another location, away from parents.  I don’t get it.  If a family cannot learn to pray together and worship together on Sunday morning when all is right with the world, how will they be able to pray and worship together when there are troubles or divisions in the family?  It seems like “youth church” just exploits some perceived spiritual generation gap.  That cannot possibly be healthy for a church-family or individual households.

4. Is there relevant biblical preaching? I believe the Bible just like any Christian does but I don’t perfectly understand all of it and sometimes I have a real problem seeing how it applies to me today.  I need a preacher that can meet my needs with the power of the Word of God (Phil.4:19).  I’m looking for a preacher that cares enough about my life and family that he will tell me the truth but tell it gently, out of love (Eph.4:15).  There are plenty of entertaining speakers that spin yarns about the good old days or preach positive thinking and pop psychology.  I need timeless truths from the Word of God and I need to be encouraged and motivated to do something with those truths.

As for my checklist, I have found that the Jackson Heights church of Christ has passed with flying colors.  This is my church-home and I’m proud to be a part of it.  I hope you’ll worship with us one Lord’s Day soon.  If you’re spiritually seeking, I hope you seriously consider Jackson Heights for your church-home.

Family

Gideon knew it was dangerous work but the family had to eat! The Midianites (Israel’s oppressors) came and went as they pleased, raiding the land like locusts. Gideon had intimately known hunger and fear for seven years. So he hid in a wine press while threshing wheat. Imagine the panic Gideon felt as he looked up from his work to find a stranger had been watching him (Judges 6:3-12).

The stranger was an angel of the Lord. God called Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianite oppression. Before he could rally the nation and lead men into battle, God wanted Gideon to cleanse his father’s household of idolatry (v. 25-26). Idolatry had brought about Israel’s persecution and God couldn’t use a leader that actively worshiped idols (v. 1-10, 25-32). So Gideon went by night with 10 servants and two bulls to pull down the altar of Baal, chop down the Ashteroth pillar and build an altar to the Lord. Then he sacrificed the younger bull (7 years old, symbolic of Israel’s oppression) to the Lord, using the wood from the Ashteroth (v.25-27). By this dramatic action, Gideon sanctified his household and demonstrated that forsaking idols and returning to the Lord would accomplish deliverance from Midian.

Notice the way in which God directed Gideon to act. First Gideon served God at home (v.25-27). Then he served God in the local community (v.27-32). Finally he could serve God nationally (v.33-35).

While we may or may not receive national recognition for our Christianity, Gideon teaches us a powerful lesson: sanctification and service to the Lord begins at home. Each of us can stand for Christ in our home and remove idols from our hearts and our families!

Salvation

Dissatisfaction with their lifestyle and heartbreaking guilt over sin prompt many people to seek an answer to the question, what must I do to be saved?  Conversely, there are many people who are quite content to lead a life where Jesus is a stranger, organized religion (a.k.a. church) is trendy in small doses, and the Bible is a motel-room novelty.  For those that are satisfied with a life devoid of God, let us consider the question, what must I do to be lost?

Ignore the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells Humankind that all must Hear the gospel to believe it and be saved (Rom.10:13-14, 17). The easiest thing one can do to be lost is simply ignoring the gospel message. Do not open a Bible. Do not darken the door of the church. Do not listen to the preacher. Avoid words like “God,” “sin,” “death,” “Jesus,” “love,” “grace,” “cross,” “blood,” “faith,” “obedience,” or “life.”

Also, don’t befriend Christians. Their hope, peace and joy can be contagious. While it is easy to avoid preachers and worship services, it is hard to ignore a Christian in life. Their actions and attitudes will lead to the very gospel that must be ignored if one would be lost.

Doubt Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The Bible tells Humankind that all must Believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God to be saved (John 3:16; 8:24; 14:6). So, doubt it! Doubt that Jesus was deity in flesh. Remain skeptical that He loved you enough to die for your sins on the cross. Distrust that He conquered death and rose from the grave on the third day. Be suspicious of His empty tomb.

Doubt that all things are possible for God. Question whether He hears prayers, if He exists at all. Impress your doubts on others by emphasizing evolution, teaching moral relativism and limiting the ability of others to pray and exercise their faith. Then one will be lost for sure (Matt.18:6).

Stay the worldly course. The Bible tells Humankind that all must Repent [turn away from] of sin in life and follow Christ to be saved (Luk.13:3; Acts 2:38). So, ignore the gospel, doubt Jesus and continue living your life the way you want to live it! You’re in charge. Pursue money above all else. Indulge in every fleshly desire that avails itself. Trust your own judgment always and live independently of all other people. In fact, refuse to help them. Why should you help anyone else? Why should anyone change for God? What has God ever done for anyone?

Deny Jesus Christ. The Bible tells Humankind that all must Confess Christ to be saved (Rom.10:9-10; Matt.10:32-33; Acts 8:36-38). So, deny Jesus with words. Scoff as others share about His death and resurrection from the grave. When asked, politely respond that you never knew Him. If asked again, curse and swear to prove that you never knew Him (Luke 22:55-62).

Deny Jesus by actions. Live as if He never existed. Deny Jesus by silence. Don’t be bothered to come to the aid of one who is hurting, oppressed or defenseless. Live in complete denial of Jesus Christ and one will be lost.

Spurn the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells Humankind that all must be Baptized to be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Gal.3:27). If one desires no part of the death and resurrection of Christ, by which salvation is offered, then one ignores the command to be immersed into the likeness of His death and resurrection (Mk. 16:16; Rom.6:3-5). Argue against immersion and say that those who teach such is necessary for salvation are legalists, denying God’s grace and attempting to earn their salvation by the traditions and works of men. And thus one will deny the very words of the Bible that state “baptism now saves you” (1 Pet.3:21).

But one doesn’t have to actively oppose baptism to be lost. One can just sleep on it for a while. Put baptism off, waiting for a better time. Procrastinate with the salvation of your eternal soul. Dare Jesus to return before you’re prepared. Surely such will be lost.

Live Hypocritically. The Bible tells Humankind that all must Live Faithfully to be saved (Jas.1:12; 2 Tim.4:7-8). Even if one comes to church once in a while and chooses to be baptized, one can be lost.

  • We won’t confess sins, when we are guilty (1 John 1:8-10).
  • We won’t forgive others when they ask for forgiveness (Matt.18:35; Mark 11:25).
  • We won’t love the church, God or other Christians (1 John 4:19-21).
  • We won’t control our tongues (Jas.3:6, 8-10).
  • We won’t meet with the saints to worship God (Heb.10:24-25).
  • We won’t worship God the way He desires to be worshiped (John 4:23-24).
  • We won’t walk in the light (1 John 1:5-7).
  • We just eat, drink and are merry because tomorrow we die. Truly, such are already lost.

What must I do to be lost? It is easier than people realize. There are plenty of role models doing it around you. However, God doesn’t want anybody to be lost. He sent His son for your salvation and He is patient, wanting all Humankind to repent and come to Him.

Realize: Lost or Saved, What Must You Do Today?