“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1.
What an astounding verse. The Bible has just opened, and yet the Bible begins with the supposition that there is a God. A supreme being exists. The Hebrew word for God is Elohim, used approximately 2,000 times in the Old Testament. Though the word Elohim is plural, its usage is surrounded by the singular.
Every inspired author of the Bible wrote accepting the fact there is a God, accepting that He is the “I Am That I Am,” Exodus 3:14. He is self-existent and the Source of every living creature; as John puts it, “The Father has life in Himself,” John 5:26. Never did doubt exist in the minds of the inspired authors. Why would they question the existence of God? A watch and no watchmaker? A garden and no gardener? Atheists and Evolutionists today can claim what they want, but their theories are filled with questions that can never be answered. Some claim we came from goo. Have you asked them where did the goo originate? Some claim a catastrophic cosmological event took place, and the effect is us today. Where did the cosmos arise for such an event to take place? Some say a star blew up, and now we are here today. And where exactly did that star originate? You get the picture, right?
The first ten words of the Bible are an introduction and the most powerful words in the Bible, and the most powerful introduction ever written. The first ten words introduce us to God, whose name alone is mentioned 32 times in the first 31 verses; including the pronouns, God is mentioned over 40 times in 31 verses. And within this chapter there is no attempt to apologize to skeptics. Moses does not take on the role of an apologist, proving the existence of God to humanity. In the first statement of Genesis, the Holy Spirit takes one huge swipe and sweeps away vain doctrines such as Atheism, Agnosticism, Polytheism, Fatalism, Idealism, Darwinism, Materialism, Pantheism and more. God asserts, He is, and is not about to apologize!
“And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27.
What will be said by the members of the local congregation when you die? Will they say you loved your brethren, Hebrews 13:1? Will they say you were faithful in attendance, Hebrews 10:25? Will they say you were kind and tenderhearted, Ephesians 4:32? Will they say that you had a forgiving spirit about you, Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:22? Will they say you loved your neighbor, Mark 12:32? Will they say you always greeted them with a smile, Hebrews 3:13? Will they say you were meek and lowly, Proverb 16:19? What will the members of the church say when you die? What will the preacher say about you at your funeral? Will he say whenever they needed someone to serve in worship, teach a Bible class, make a phone call, help with the teens, visit the widows that you were first in line, ready to lend a helping hand, Matthew 23:11? Will he say that as far as the leadership was concerned, you were a steady rock and never caused the leadership any trouble or doubt, 1 Corinthians 15:58? Will he say your faith was rock solid, your love for the Lord was sincere, and you clearly were a student of the word, 1 John 2:5? Will he say you desired a better country, a city prepared by God, Hebrews 11:16? Will he be willing to say with a clear conscience that this body we lay here in this grave will soon be risen to meet the Lord and the saints in the air and forever be with Him, 1 Thessalonians 4:17? What will he say? What will God say on that day? When the day of the Lord shall come, and you stand at the judgment seat of Christ for the good and bad in your life, 2 Corinthians 5:10, will He say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of the Lord,” Matthew 25:21? Will He say, “I will give you a crown of life, Revelation 2:10? Will He grant you a spot in His throne, Revelation 2:21?
Friends, I know the older we grow, the more we tend to dwell upon our mortality; but when you dwell on it, what do you want to be said by those who loved and knew you here on earth? What do you want the Lord to say? Well, if you want these good and truthful things and more said at those times, let’s remember the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
We live in a land and day where people live in peril, choosing to focus on the pleasures of the season instead of setting their minds on the world to come. In this life people chase personal dreams, the American Dream, personal happiness and fulfillment without regard to the fact that tomorrow they will stand before the Judgment Seat of God to give a rendering of their lives.
The Bible is clear that God has set eternity in our hearts, Ecclesiastes 3:11. And though one may kick and deny the eternal realm, denial doesn't rid oneself of what is coming. What's coming? Death is coming! And when death comes, after that will be the judgment, Hebrews 9:27. For God has appointed a day in which He will judge the entire world, Acts 17:31. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, has called that day "the judgment of the great day," Jude 1:6.
As certain as you are reading this today, is as certain the Judgment Day is approaching. The truth is the Day of Judgment is irreversible, unalterable, and irrevocable. There is no power strong enough to wish it away or to force God to change His mind. It is so irrevocable that the Apostle Paul references it over and over again as "that day," "that day," "that day," in 2 Timothy 1:12, 18; 4:8. Jesus calls "that day," "the hour," John 5:28, and says the hour is coming in which all that are in their graves will arise and face the judgment seat of God.
Every person from Adam to the last born on earth will stand before their Creator on that day. The Revelator saw, "the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne," Revelation 20:12. That is people from every nation, for "all the nations" of the earth will be present, Matthew 25:32. And that includes you, for "every knee" will bow, and "every tongue" will confess, Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11.
Today we are standing in the Valley of Decision, Joel 3:14, and like Joshua asked Israel almost 3,500 years ago to choose this day whom they will serve. Your life is about the ultimate choice, being, not who you will marry, or what to study, or where to live, but will you choose God or self? If you are not certain what choosing God or self means, and the consequences of it, why gamble with your soul today? Please seek out one of our elders or deacons and ask them for their help in answering this question today!
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ,” Philippians 1:10.
In the first century, Paul declared there would be a gradual falling from the doctrines of Christ (2 Thess. 2:3-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-3). Today one can compare the doctrines of the religious denominations and witness mass confusion. Over the last 24 weeks, we have dealt with our Restoration Plea, to restore a complete return to New Testament Christianity following the laws and doctrines of Christ and the apostles, as practiced by the New Testament Church, through the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Mankind is born with an innate desire to worship. However, our worship cannot be patterned after our lusts, desires, whims, and dreams. To pattern our worship after what we want would make our worship vain (Matt. 15:8-9) and ignorant (Acts 17:23; 1 John 4:22). The Bible gives us three acceptable elements in worship: the right object – God; the right manner – in spirit; and the right way – in truth, John 4:24. Today I want you, wherever you may worship, to compare the corporate worship you engage in to the corporate worship in the New Testament. If you see a difference in where you worship compared to the Bible, then you must change as God so desires! When the New Testament Christians came together, they sang songs, without the accompaniment of instruments (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 14:15). They also would pray (1 Cor. 14:15; 1 Thess. 5:17; Col. 4:2). They preached, studied and read the scriptures (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 1:21,23; 2 Tim. 4:2-4). Then on the Lord’s Day they would take up a collection (1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 8:1-9:15), and they would partake of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:20-34). Here at Brown Trail, our plea is to restore New Testament Christianity. Please, if you have any questions about the first-century church and restoring her precepts today, please find one of our elders and deacons, and they would be thrilled to sit with you and discuss how to approve things that are excellent.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth,” Matthew 28:18.
After Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, He explained to His apostles about the authority He had received in heaven and earth. As Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22), ruling from His throne in heaven (Heb. 8:1; Rev. 3:21; Heb. 3:1; 10:11-12), Christ is our authority on earth.
The Church (the called-out) is therefore under His power and authority. Thus, we must live, obey, organize and worship as He pleases, because He is the one with the final say, not “the called-out.” The point from scriptures is clear: The "called-out" are under the authority of Christ, and whatever we do in word or in deed must be authorized by Christ, Colossians 3:17. Friends, we are not the Creator, nor the Son of God, nor did we die and arise for anyone or anything. We have no right to claim any authority over Christ. The fact is, today there is “one Lord, one faith,” Eph. 5:23. Thus, as preachers today, we must strive to preach “warning every man, teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus,” Col. 1:28. These words of Paul cannot be fulfilled on earth today if man continues to follow their creeds and councils!
God's word clearly teaches Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. And for us to survive, we must abide in Him, keeping His commandments (John 15:1-11). 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” John, the apostle of love, makes it clear in 2 John 1:9, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."
At the Brown Trail church of Christ, we understand our authority does not rest in our elders, our members, nor in a creed written by us. Our authority rests only in the words of Christ. Please, if you have any questions about this, seek out one of our elders or deacons for clarification.
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Traditionally the churches of Christ have sought to restore New Testament Christianity. The Bible firmly states that the word of God is a seed (Lk. 8:11), and each seed only produces after its kind (Gen 1:12). Therefore, the seed, the word of God, if planted in the hearts of man today, can spring forth and bring back New Testament Christianity, as is the desire of God. Therefore, as Paul wrote to the Body at Thessalonica and told them to “Prove all things,” he likewise told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God has given us what we need to be perfect in every work. We can know God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
The question remains: What are the “all things” we are referencing? At the Brown Trail church of Christ, we pattern our worship, organization, our daily pattern of living, and the plan of salvation from the word of God, with the goal of restoring true New Testament Christianity.
The question remains: How can a sinner enter the realm of the saved? First, we know one must hear the word of God, which produces faith (Romans 10:14-17); however, according to scripture, faith alone cannot save anyone. Even the demons believe and tremble, yet they clearly are not saved. The Bible teaches that after you believe, you must be willing to confess the name of Christ before men (Acts 8:36-37), then repent of your sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19), as Peter told the 3,000 on Pentecost, and then be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). And through this plan from God, baptism being the final step, God will wash away your sins and place you in the realm of the saved, 1 Peter 3:21; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; Acts 2:47.
If you have any questions concerning the plan of salvation that God has brought forth, please contact one of our elders or deacons. But before I close, where you worship, is their pattern of obtaining salvation found in the New Testament pages, or found in the authority of man? Remember, the Bible has placed the burden upon us to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good," (Matthew 7:21; Proverbs 14:12).
“And hath put all things under His feet and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22.
“Even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the savior of the body,” Ephesians 5:23.
When Christ died, was buried, then arose, He fulfilled the Law and took away the keys of sin and death from Satan (Revelation 1:18). Then through the Spirit and Apostles in Acts 2, the Church was established in Jerusalem, with Christ as the foundation (“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 3:11) and head. Therefore, Christ is the Head of His Church (Ephesians 1:22)! He alone laid the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). He alone has received all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18-20), and Christ alone is preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18). Today there is a pre-denominational religious group on earth that Christ established. He alone is the head of this church which is His Body (Col. 1:18); and His headquarters is where the Head of the body is, in heaven! Scriptures reveal that the Father promised Jesus the throne of David (Luke 1:31-33), and He was raised to sit upon His throne (Acts 2:29-31). When Jesus sat down on the right hand of God (Heb. 3:1; 10:11-12), He sat down on His throne in heaven (Heb. 8:1; Rev. 3:21), where He receives as King over His kingdom, dominion and glory (Dan. 7:13- 14; 1 Pet. 1:21; 3:22). Today, Jesus rules His Church as Head from His headquarters in Heaven. We at the Brown Trail church of Christ recognize Christ as our head, who is in heaven, and our creed is the New Testament and none other. Please feel free to contact one of the elders or deacons here at Brown Trail if you have any questions about these doctrines.