The church

You can’t be in Jesus without being a Member of His body

I make no apologies for saying when someone forsakes the church, they forsake Jesus. But I do make a plea with people so that no one fools you on this fundamental matter – not even yourself!

The idea of being in Jesus, which is where salvation is found, entails that we are actually a member within His body:

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2 Timothy 2:10)

and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”    (1 Corinthians 12:27)

As can plainly be seen from the scriptures delivered to the church by God’s Spirit, if we leave the body, which is the church, out of our life, we leave behind the Head that gives life (i.e. salvation) to the body as a whole and to our soul individually.

So if someone has convinced you that you can enjoy a proper relationship with Jesus without being involved with His church, then I encourage you to reconsider your convictions, for a body part removed from the body becomes a body part removed from the head by default. EA

And [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)

For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:25)

How necessary is it to be in the church when it comes to salvation?

How necessary is it to be in the church when it comes to salvation today? Well, let’s look at some lessons from the past and find out.

According to God, how necessary was it to be in the ark to survive the universal judgment of the flood?

“And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Genesis 6:17-18)

According to God, how necessary was it to be in the house with the blood-covered door to survive the judgment of Egypt?

“‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt…Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with
the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the 
destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” (Exodus 12:12-13, 21-23)

According to God, how necessary will it be to be numbered with the saints in the city of God to survive the fiery judgment of the Devil and his soldiers?

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:6-10)

Now, according to the word of God, where do we find a house with a blood-covered door that offers God’s protection from the fiery universal judgment of humanity and the Devil?

Check these out and you’ll get your answer.:

So is it any wonder then why the Lord adds those who are saved to the number of his people in the church? EA

“praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47

Jesus Saved Before Church Built?

“Dear brother Clem: Since you claim that one must be in the church to be saved, and that the church was established in Acts 2, then Jesus Christ could not have been saved, for he died before the church was established. How do you get around this fact? – V.W., KY”

“This fact” – as it is called, is not a fact at all. First of all, Jesus never sinned, and therefore was never lost, so He did not need to be saved. Second, He promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), and He purchased that church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). So the church could not have been “purchased” before the death of Jesus. Jesus is the head of that church, which is His body (Ephesians 5:23), and He is the Savior of that body. Not only that, but He is the Savior of all who are saved (2 Timothy 1:10). When one is saved, the Lord adds Him to His church (Acts 2:47). Christ is the head of that church, so He never needed to be added to it.

The time of the establishment of the church has nothing to do with the salvation of Jesus. He could not have been saved before or after Pentecost, in or out of the church. ThatChurchPurchasedWithBlood which is not lost cannot be saved. Jesus had no sin, else He could not have redeemed us: “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And again, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22). Had Jesus been guilty of sins, He could not have cleansed us from our sins. Had He stood in need of salvation, he could not have become our Savior. Jesus was not saved before, nor after Pentecost, for He had no sin and thus had no need for salvation. – Clem Thurman

Excerpted from Volume 63, Number 22 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Co-Editor, David Thurman, Co-Editor.

The Jesus Factor

Often times when people make decisions concerning their attitude toward the church, their sin, their lifestyle, their prayer life and their eternal destiny they do so without considering the “Jesus factor” into the equation.

Many try to seek God without considering the church – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (Matthew 16:18).

Many try to seek God without considering the necessary atonement for their sins – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (Matthew 26:26-28).

Many try to seek an avenue to God without considering any constraint in their life choices – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (Matthew 7:13-14).

Many try to seek God through various mediators without considering the medium – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (1 Timothy 2:5).

Many try to seek an eternity with God without considering his eternal word – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (John 1:1; 14:6).

If we fail to add the “Jesus factor” into any equation of spiritual problems we will fail regardless of the problem we’re trying to solve. EA

Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:4-5)

Why Bother with the Church?

After looking at the self-made messes that the church finds herself in, the question, “Why bother with the church?” isn’t just what the world could ask of her members – it’s a question they could ask of God!

Quibbles that distract, relationships that make the world look like the moral compass, fickleness that discourages others, and more spiritual babies than you can shake a rattle at! I’m not just talking about the church of the 21st century; I’m talking about the problems that actually have a book, chapter and verse! Don’t believe me? Then read this “cornucopia” of spiritual bliss: Philippians 4:1-3; 1 Corinthians 5:1-2; Galatians 2:11-13; Hebrews 5:12-14.

So why, why does the Lord bother with the church? The answer is love! It’s because He has a special love for the church – one that the world doesn’t get to enjoy.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

There can be good and moral people in the world, just read Acts 10:1-6, but being a good and moral person won’t save us from our sins! It’s Jesus who saves us from our sins, and His body, which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23), are the ones who make up the saved (Acts 2:47).

So why should you bother with the church with all of her imperfections and shortcomings? It’s because Jesus “bothered” to buy her with His blood (Acts 20:28). That’s why. EA

but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)

Drop The Ball

Drop the ball – whenever you hear that phrase it’s usually made in reference to someone messing something up, but not when it comes to the New Year!

“Drop the ball” in that context means starting over. It has to do with America’s tradition of watching the “Ball” in New York City drop to light the New Year’s sign when the clock strikes 12:00…or 11:00 if you live in the Central Standard Time Zone. A lot of people enjoy keeping that tradition, while others enjoy sleeping. Eh, to each his own when it comes to that.

So what does that “ball” and the New Year bring with it?  I don’t know honestly. We all have hopes but the fact of the matter is we just don’t know.  Some things can completely depend on us while other things are completely out of our hands. As for the things we can’t control, more prayer in the New Year can help.

But how about the things we can control? Things like spending more time with family, becoming more evangelical or growing stronger in our own devotion to God. When it comes to things like that the “ball” is in our court.

This year, start a new family tradition that lets you “unplug” and spend more valuable time with your family. Use Bible tracts to give to others so they can learn more about the Bible and the salvation that its pages contains (Heart to Heart, House to House has a great selection that covers various topics). If you’re not a member of the church of Christ, make a “resolution” to visit the worship services or Bible Study services of a local congregation in your area.

The New Year gives us a new “ball” of sorts.  I dare you to “drop it” and start living for God. EA

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Do People Today Receive a Special Revelation from God?

Men and women who claimed to have received a “special revelation” from God have written entire Creed Books and even so-called additional “Testaments” of Jesus. Is it not unusual that all the people who have received these “messages from the same God” all received different instructions, different missions, different names, different commandments and different leaders?

Even though the above is true they insist that we believe that God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:1-3) and who has spoken with His final word through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2), continues to contradict Himself by repeatedly telling different individuals “a new and different way” to find salvation contrary to what the Bible says. Well, what does a person do when they do not like the rules? They make a new rulebook! They say, “two” where God’s word says, “one” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Concerning such possible mentalities, the apostle Paul said:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-12).

Paul said he delivered “the certified gospel” from God. According to what you just read, what do you think Paul would say about these so-called modern-day “special revelations” that contradict what he wrote and preached, but are supposedly still from God?

If any “church” or individual uses something other than God’s word they do not have the foundation of God’s apostles and prophets. If they do not have the foundation of God’s apostles and prophets they do not have the “Chief Cornerstone.” If they do not have the “Chief Cornerstone” they do not have Christ. If they do not have Christ, they have nothing. This is the inevitable conclusion that Paul drew when he said in Ephesians 2:19,20:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,”

God’s word is not only holy, it’s wholly and completely sufficient for what the church needs concerning God’s revealed will for His people and for the rest of mankind (2 Peter 1:1-3 and Jude 3).

Please realize that you are getting the wrong signal if you think you are getting a special message directly from God today. The Holy Spirit continues to speak to people for sure, but it is through His written word, the Holy Bible, not by special revelation to “later day prophets” (Romans 10:17).

When a person “reveals” what is already written then no “revealing” has taken place, and when a person “reveals” something that has not been written the only thing being “revealed” is their lack of acceptance and an abundance of unbelief toward what has already been revealed by God in His word.

All souls are special to God, but so-called modern-day revelations “from God” are not!

Think about it. EA

How Did it Get to That?

The worst of situations have all started with a single decision. At first the decision may seem harmless enough; many even beginning with the best of intentions, but nonetheless the outcome comes out being a miserable one for all the parties involved. Sadly the religious world is no exception.

Many of the manmade traditions in Christianity that are so heavily adhered to today were all started by minor changes that eventually became mainstream without the followers even considering or wondering or realizing or caring how it had gotten to that point. Here are some examples:

Where is the Pope in the scriptures?

What about infant baptism?

How about the practice of praying to or through Mary or other “saints” as mediators?

What about women who serve as elders and preachers?

Where is the authority for instrumental music (including all the rock band wannabes) in the church’s worship of God?

How did the mourner’s bench get the status it has been given?

How did all of these situations get to where they are now? How can something that so many saw as harmless at the beginning turn into something so harmful in the end???

It all happens by not listening to the following words: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Those are not the words of some council or association or any other manmade hierarchy. They are the Holy Spirit inspired words of an apostle of Jesus the Christ of God. When we get this, then we can more easily avoid having to ask, “How did it get to that?” EA

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 2 – Biblical Election by Faith Wins!

The concept of election is a biblically true and wonderful concept. The woeful concept of Calvinism’s “Unconditional Election” is biblically false. Calvinism takes biblical predestination which means God had a plan to pay the price of man’s sin from the beginning, and turns it into God buying everyone a one way plane ticket with no chance of cancelling the destination. According to Calvinism’s “unconditional election,” once you get on the plane…make that, once you’re forced onto the plane headed toward Heaven or Hell there’s no way off because your ticket is already punched!

Calvinism takes predestination through and turns it into predestination to. It has God throwing people into prison, throwing away the key and then saying we’ll be punished if we can’t get out!

Without a doubt, throughout Bible history, God chose to use certain individuals and nations over others – but the question is why did God choose to use them? Is it because God indiscriminately predestined some individuals to salvation and others to condemnation regardless of individual reaction like Calvinism teaches or is it because God knew exactly how those individuals would respond to His call?

Scripturally speaking the answer to this is clear! Doctrinally speaking, Calvinism muddies the water.

Where Calvinism falls short in its understanding is seen in the fact that God knowing what everyone will choose to do in their own heart when it comes to His commands is not the same as God making (irresistibly forcing) them do it.

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” Isaiah 46:9-10

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.1 Chronicles 28:9

Combine the clear language of God’s attributes from these two verses and what we get is God’s ability to make His will come to pass, not by overriding the free will of men and women, but by using that free will in our hearts to make His plans complete.

With this biblical principle firmly established we can now objectively look at one of the most, if not the most, “controversial” books in the Bible when it comes to predestination and whether God simply chooses His elect’s salvation for them based on nothing they have done or on something they will do.

In Romans 8:28-30 Paul says the avenue to Heaven has been predestined, but those who walk in it must decide for themselves! It’s all about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we as individuals choose to do with it.

Now, what is the purpose Paul mentions in verse 28? The purpose is salvation in Jesus! This is the same purpose Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 1:9: “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,.

Verse 29 follows up by saying God foreknew individuals, not for-chose!!! The verse does not say ‘those He predestinated He predestinated’ does it? Why not? Because the truth of Biblical election revolves around God foreknowing those who would be His elect by their willingness to conform to the image of Jesus. (more…)

You Can Be a Part of the Kingdom of God Today

Many in the religious world are confused in thinking that the kingdom of God has not yet been revealed, but such thinking would have been a shock to Paul and the first century Christians. The brothers and sisters at Colossi were told:

giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-14).

Through faith in the gospel of Christ, the citizens of Colossi had become present-day citizens of God’s kingdom, and we can do the same (Philippians 3:20).

The kingdom of God is present in the world today, but it is not a kingdom that originated with the world (John 18:36). God’s kingdom is not limited by physical borders (Luke 17:20-21), nor does it suffer from political turmoil as the leadership remains the same at all times (1 Timothy 6:15). It’s a kingdom of citizens who seek to serve (Luke 22:24-26). It’s a kingdom open to all but entered into by few (Matthew 7:21; John 3:3-5). It’s a kingdom started by the love of God and kept by the strength of God so you can be a part of the kingdom of God (Matthew 16:18-19; Hebrews 12:28-29). EA

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

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