Last week we tried to identify the merits of a “Christian” church. In continuing that study, I hope to encourage you in your search for one – as well as suggest active involvement in a community of believers that will aid you in your college and after-college experience like little else can.
The disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians ages ago at Antioch (Acts 11:26), to designate them as something different from Judaism. They were followers of the Way (John 14:6,7 & Acts 24:14), considered “little Christs” – imitating him who was, “…the exact representation” of God. Hebrews 1:3 As such, we gain our salvation through him, there being no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Thus the importance of his Word above all else. The result being we acquire a share in his ministry of reconciling the world to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
Our desire is to restore the church back to its original form found in the New Testament as much as is practicable and possible. That doesn’t mean we have to gather in homes, as they undoubtedly did before the advent of the local church or in the nearest synagogue as Paul and others did as they branched out with the message of Christ into the rest of the world. But we must be prepared to meet and greet people in the name of the Lord wherever they’ll gather.
It is often said that doctrine doesn’t matter. That is not our message. The Bible specifically labeling some activity as “contrary to sound doctrine.” 1 Timothy 4:10 Ecumenicalism sounds good. Strip away all that divides, become one people and worship God. But there is a right and wrong way, doctrine not necessarily worth fighting over, but certainly worth standing firm in. Paul advising Timothy to, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16 Some issues can’t be discarded or ignored, and must be handled according to “sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1 This will cause disagreement and contention. Jesus acknowledged that the correcting aspect of his word would sometimes function as a sharp blade; cutting away at preconceived ideas, long held tradition and inconsistencies in our faith; at times –separating us from family, friends and certainly the status quo – but that it was absolutely necessary. (Matthew 10:34-39) Titus instructed by Paul to, “…hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he (could) encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it…” Titus 1:9 However, we can often learn to disagree in an agreeable manner as we worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:23), proving the accuracy of our understanding by our actions. (Matthew 11:19)
Jesus is THE WAY – the only way. There are things he expects and demands of us that some don’t want to do as well as things he forbids that some prefer. You are part of a New Testament Restoration Movement that attempts to turn people back to the essential teachings of Jesus, unfettered by man’s preferences or comfort levels. Some things need corrected, some practices need to be reintroduced in their proper place of worship. As Christ’s ambassadors we are expected to teach, rebuke, correct, train and encourage – with great patience, forbearance and love. (1Cor. 16:13,14,2Tim. 3:16,2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:15) Be assured, this won’t always be understood or appreciated. (See 2 Timothy 4:3,4) But it’s still our responsibility.
Sound incompatible? It’s not. Difficult? Maybe. But Paul tells us we have been given a Spirit of power which enables us to do the impossible! If our abilities are channeled through the right source (See Luke 1:37; 18:27 & Galatians 5:16), we can develop the power to speak the truth boldly – not being timid or silent out of fear or ignorance; being tempered, directed and motivated by love. (1 Timothy 1:7) This should encourage us to speak out as a result of our concern for other people, not because of a desire to browbeat them into submission. (See Philippians 2:3,4) The problem being that while we must be considerate of others opinions, we can’t be overly concerned by what they think – because so many of them don’t! To have the confidence to do this we must KNOW what’s right by God’s standards, not our own. And much of that ability is gained through our attendance and involvement in and through church.
Going to church is important.
Knowing Christ through His word is essential.
Being a Christian is not just a good idea – it is a matter of life and death!
Attending church is not merely a socially responsible thing to do.
Implementing the teachings of Christ and the lifestyle of a Christian can be difficult.
But it is vital, it has been done and you can do it too!
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