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There Is Something in A Name

By Clint De France

In most areas of life, the world certainly understands the power of a name. There are some names you could give to a business that would ensure it to be doomed to failure from the start. It wouldn’t matter the quality of the product or the service, because in business there is something in a name! If I was going to go off and get involved in politics with a name like De France I don’t know how I would fare, but there are other names that could make or break my political career, because in politics there is something in a name. People understand that.

A good name can take you places and a bad name can hold you back. That’s why people name their children Peter, James and John, and their mad dogs and mules Ahab, Judas and Lucifer. But can you imagine a mother and father naming there sweet little girl Jezebel, or naming their son Satan! I tell you that people wouldn’t take that! A few years ago a family in Pennsylvania named their new born son Adolf Hitler. An outcry ensued that eventually drew the attention of the national media.  A local bakery refused to personalize a cake for the infant- because a name means something!

If you don’t believe it, why don’t you try to go up to some fellow and call him a liar, or a thief, or a murderer and then say, “Well there’s nothing in a name!” I guarantee you he’ll teach you better! But now as clearly as people can see this in most areas of life and livelihood, when it comes to religion this notion is suddenly as far-fetched and absurd to the minds of men as you could imagine! We are told from all sides, “THERE IS NOTHING IN A NAME!”

There was a song that was very popular a few years back and I think it captures this mindset about as clear as anything: “Some people think today, if heaven you would see, you must belong to their church, or be lost eternally. But according to God’s word, what he’s still looking for, is what he finds within your heart, and not what’s over the door.” Well, although the writer claims to be holding true to the word of God, the truth is that the word of God teaches quite differently! The Bible teaches that there is more in a name when it comes to the religion of Jesus Christ than in any other area of life. The wise man Solomon said in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” And again in Ecclesiastes 7:1, “A good name is better than precious ointment…” It certainly seems then that Solomon thought that the name “over the door” was rather important!

When God is involved, a name takes on a greater weight and a more profound meaning than it ever did in business or politics or anything like that. Consider that while God allowed man to name the animals, God himself named man. (Gen 5:22) Throughout the Old Testament we see a continuous train of divinely appointed name changes that were all a part of God’s great plan. We think of Abram, whose name was changed to Abraham, “a friend of God,” showing that God had chosen this man’s family to be his special children. We think of Esau, whose name was changed to Edom, “Red Earth” symbolizing his materialistic choice when he sold his sacred birthright for a bowl of pottage, this name rightly suited his children, the Edomites, as they trusted in earthly alliances, the pride of their hearts and their great stone fortress of Petra, rather than the power of God.

We read of Jacob who God called ‘Israel’ after the remarkable and strange event when he prevailed over the Angel of the Lord, “the Prince that Prevails with God.” The Children of Israel cherished this name as they found that any foe they faced would fall before them when God was on their side. And surely we think of Jesus, “Jehovah is Salvation”, as the Angel told Joseph, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” And the Apostles would later risk their own lives to say, “There is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Yes, God says, there is something in a name, and I want you to consider that if God put such effort and importance into the names of men than how much more must he have put into the name of the Church that his son purchased with his own blood, and the disciples in order to give him glory and honor! Now friends, there are a lot of names that sincere, good, decent, religious, and bible-believing people have been very proud to wear over the years, but I want to consider with the Bible for a little while today which name is really worthy in the sight of God.

The Name of the Church

There has never been an institution of any greater import, and worth any more honor and adoration on the face of the earth than the Church that Jesus built! The Bible says that Jesus loved the church so much that he gave his own life for it! (Eph. 5:25 and Acts 20:28) We further find the church is made up of all the saved people in the earth! In Ephesians 5:23-24, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” And thus the Church is made up of those who are saved and are subject to Christ. The church
is
Christ’s Kingdom!
And further more notice Hebrews 3:6 “but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Thus the church is the household, or the family of God! Well friends imagine what an awesome name God must have prepared for such a magnificent organization! So what is it? Well when we look into the world around us we will find that hundreds, in fact perhaps thousands of different names are applied to the church, but the Bible says that there is ONE from heaven! In Ephesians 3:14-15 we read, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”

Part 2

We have noticed the importance the Divine has placed on names throughout the history of His interaction with humanity. Continuing we want to look at some of the names that are commonly applied to the church in search of the one that is given from heaven. (Eph. 3:14-15)

The Names of Men

It is very common today to see churches claiming to be the Lord’s church that wear the names of men. Now we will grant that most of the time these are men who have accomplished great things: Martin Luther, John Wesley, even Alexander Campbell as well as many others. But as great as these men may have been, are their names worthy of being applied to the Church that Jesus built? Notice if you will 1 Corinthians 1:10-13:

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

It seems that in the Corinth church there were some who were not unlike many folks today; they rallied around their favorite preacher and even called themselves after his name. Now some say that Paul is condemning any group of disciples who call themselves after Christ. Actually, quite the contrary, the credentials that disqualify Paul, Peter, and Apollos (were you baptized in the name of/was he crucified for you) are met by Christ and no one else and that means that no man, no preacher, no
APOSTLE is the
worthy name
, only Jesus Christ! The sad truth is that most of these organizations who seek to honor men by stamping their name on the church really are doing a great dishonor to those men according to their own words! Did you know that?

Alexander Campbell hated the term “Campbellism” with such a passion that he wrote of it saying, “it is a nickname of reproach invented and adopted by those whose views, feelings and desires are all sectarian; who cannot conceive of Christianity in any other light than an ism.”

Martin Luther also, I am quite sure would have no gratitude toward anyone for giving the church his name. He is recorded as having paraphrased Paul saying:

“I pray you leave my name alone and call not yourselves Lutherans, but Christians. Who is Luther? My doctrine is not mine! I have not been crucified for anyone. St. Paul would not let anyone call themselves after Paul, nor of Peter, but of Christ. How then does it befit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to give my name to the children of God? Cease, my dear friends, to cling to these party names and distinctions: away with all, and let us call ourselves only Christians after Him from whom our doctrine comes.” – The Life of Luther, by Stork, p. 289.

Thus we see that when the church wears men’s names it not only displeases God, but the men themselves!

Roman Catholic

One of the largest groups of professed believers and followers of Christ designates their organization as, “The Roman Catholic Church.” But even as popular, historic, and accepted as this name is by many good and honest people, I believe that it falls short of being the name worthy of the Church that Jesus built.

The first major problem with it is that it isn’t in the Bible! You can read from the founding of the Church in Acts 2 on through the book of Revelation and never once find the name ‘Roman Catholic’ in God’s Word. That is enough to conclude that it is without divine authority.

The second great problem that I find with this name is that is represents an unscriptural ideal. I have no problem with the term catholic, which means universal, although it is not a sufficient name for the Church.
It is true that the church is universal, it is a borderless kingdom, but when one says that the church is Roman Catholic he is insinuating that the headquarters of the global church is in Rome, and the Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible teaches that Christ, not the Pope, is the head of the church, (Eph. 5:23) and Heaven, not Rome, is the headquarters of the Church! (Acts 2:34-36)

 

Baptist

The group of professed Bible-believing people in America today called Southern Baptists, which represents only a portion of the great whole of Baptists, claims a membership of 16,247,736! The point being that there are a lot of people just in America today who associate themselves with the church called, “Baptist.” But, if the Bible teaches us anything it is that the crowd isn’t always right. Only the scripture can tell us for sure if the name Baptist is the right name for the Church to wear.

This name is a little different than the name Roman Catholic because you can find it in the Bible, but I am afraid it still falls short of being the name God has given to the Church. The only person we read of being called a Baptist is John the Baptist, (actually the “immerser”) and he wasn’t a member of the Church! I know that some people say that he was, so we will take the time to notice some reasons why John the Baptist could not have been a member of the Church.

First notice Matthew 14:10, “So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.” This passage marks the death of John, but two chapters later Jesus says, “I will build my church…” (16:18) The church hadn’t been established yet when John died, so he could not have been in the church. Notice further, Matthew 11:11 where Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Now why would it be said that a great man like John was “less” than the least in the kingdom? Because John died before the kingdom was established, he was never in it, therefore the least in the Church was greater than John! Since John was not a member of the Church then we must conclude that no member of the Church was ever called a Baptist and no church was ever called a Baptist church, thus it is not a scriptural name! Consider how Jesus must feel when men wear that name, instead of his name. In John 3:29-30 John the Baptist said:

“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

How would you feel if your wife wore your best man’s name? How do you think Jesus feels? Before we move on from this I would like to notice a quote from one of the most respected Baptist scholars of all time, the late Charles Spurgeon,

“I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ’s name last forever. I look forward with pleasure, to the day when there will not be a Baptist living. I hope they will soon be gone. I hope the Baptist name will soon perish, but let Christ’s name endure forever.” – Spurgeon Memorial Library, Vol. 1, p. 168.

I say to Mr. Spurgeon, AMEN. In the next article we will continue our investigation of the right name for the church to wear.

So we have observed some of the names that men have given to the church and saw many of the most popular fall into condemnation when examined with the scripture. Now we want to look at a few more in search of the one that is given from heaven. (Eph. 3:14-15)

Part 3 Party Names, the Scourge of Sectarianism

Many religious institutions bear names that reflect a particular doctrinal distinction that they hold which separates them from other denominations. For instance, Baptists are so called, not actually because John the Immerser is called a Baptist in some translations, but because they believe in adult believer’s baptism by immersion only. This was an after the face defense.

Oxford Holy Club

Doctrinal distinctives that characterize a certain sect have been the most common source of religious names throughout history. The name Methodist originated when John and Charles Wesley became part of the so-called ‘Holy Club’ of Oxford, a group of no more than twenty to twenty-five like-minded friends who believed that repentance from worldliness and holy living were necessary for salvation. This group became known as ‘The Methodists’ because of the methodical approach to spirituality of its members. The group became larger and grew until it formed its own, more evangelical Church with the ideas of Wesley at its head. The name ‘Methodist’ has stuck to this day.

The full name of the Methodist Church is ‘Methodist Episcopal’. The name ‘Episcopal’ which denominates another protestant group is in reference to a particular view of church government and organization–that being that ‘bishops’ (the Greek word episkopoi) are an office superior to ‘elders’ who govern over the churches of a city or region. The Methodist Episcopal church agrees with this, but also adheres to the unique teachings of John Wesley and others.

There is a similar history in the name ‘Presbyterian’ Church. Again the reference in the name ‘Presbyterian’ is to the view of government and organization that the denomination holds, being that ‘elders’ are over congregations and that two classifications of ‘elder’ (teaching and ruling) exist.

‘Pentecostals’ are so called because they believe that the beginning of the Church and the ideal of Christianity is found on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2). ‘Adventists’ are so named because they believe in the second personal, visible coming of Christ. ‘Seventh-Day Adventists’ derive their name from their belief that worship is to be done on the Sabbath. ‘Congregationalists’ are so called because they believe in the total independency and autonomy of congregations. ‘Holiness’ churches are so called because they believe that holiness in Christian living is essential for salvation.

There are ‘General’ Baptists who believe that the atoning death of Christ was for all mankind in general, whosoever will receive it, and there are ‘Particular’ Baptists who believe it was for only elect individuals. We could go on and on. Some of these names refer to false, man-made doctrines and would obviously be wrong for that reason, but others refer to true doctrines of Christianity. What would be wrong with wearing the name of a doctrine of truth? Each of these names would be insufficient because they describe only one part of the doctrine of Christ. It is not enough to accept only one part, and neither is it enough to be called after only one part. We must look for a name that encapsulates all of these doctrines in one!

Another kind of name that is not uncommon, and (like the aforementioned) is the product of sectarianism and division, is to call a church after a convention or association of churches  (i.e. Southern Baptist, Missouri Synod, American Baptist Association.) The error of this is that no such associations or conventions existed in the early church. Each congregation was independent and all faithful churches where in fellowship with each other as brethren.

Christian Church?

Some have suggested that the name of the Church should be ‘Christian.’ But while I cherish and respect the name Christian in its proper application, I do not believe that it is the name of the church. The church does not belong to its members and so to call the church after its members as a possessive is incorrect and disrespectful to the true owner. Moses Lard put it about as simply as anyone ever could I think by saying that the Christian Church is “not scriptural and never will be” because there is simply no bible for designating the church that way.

Does the Church Universal have a Name?

The church universal is called by many names from ‘Bride of Christ’ to ‘House of God’. But as an invisible institution with no earthly structure or organization, there is no one name that is applied to the church universal. When it comes to what we should call the church we must look to the congregational level.

Church of Christ or Church of God?

There are many who contest that the name should be the ‘church of God’ seeing as this term is used 11 times in the New Testament. But I think it is important to consider even more closely the relation of each member of the Godhead to the church in order to conclude what the Bible writers are trying to communicate in this terminology. We understand that God is a “Triune Being, three in Persons, one in purpose.” So which part of the God head does the church belong to? Is it the church of the Father? Or perhaps is it the church of the Holy Spirit? Well, let us allow the scriptures to answer that question.

Notice first Acts 20:28:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

Now, which member of the Godhead purchased the church with His own blood? Which one of the three came to earth in the flesh and died on the cross for our sins? The Father? No. The Holy Spirit? No. Only Jesus Christ, the Son. And so when Paul spoke of the Church of God, as a possessive, he seems to have been speaking of God the Son.

This is evident in other passages as well. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build MY CHURCH…” It is the Church that belongs to Jesus Christ. You remember that when Jesus gave the commission unto the building up of His Church, He stated that “all power and all authority” had been given to Him by the Father.

Notice what the Apostle Paul says over in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24:

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”

Until the end of time when Jesus delivers the kingdom up to God, the kingdom belongs to Christ. Oh what a perfect, awesome and worthier name the Apostle Paul ascribes to congregations of God’s children in Romans 16:16 when he says, “the churches of Christ salute you.”

The Name of the Members

One final point of consideration is of the name that individuals in the church should wear. I first want to stress that it is not ‘church of Christ!’ We are not called ‘church of Christ people.’ The statement, ‘I am church of Christ’ is not only grammatically improper but it is altogether unscriptural!

When we speak this way we are calling the church universal by a term that insinuates she is just another fraction (denomination) of the Christian world. This is terribly destructive! In years past one of the hardest fought battles was to reclaim the name Christian and Christian only. Biblically speaking the only Christians are those who are in the Lord’s Church and if you are in the Lord’s Church you need not say, ‘I am church of Christ or I am a Church of Christ Christian.’ Just say ‘I am a Christian.’ If the world asks, ‘What kind?’ then a wonderful opportunity has been presented to share the truth.

There are many descriptive terms given in the Bible like ‘disciple’ (meaning a follower), ‘saint’ (meaning a sanctified person), ‘brethren’ (meaning members of the same family), ‘children of God’ (meaning offspring of the father), but these are not proper names.

The Prophet Isaiah had given three great prophetic statements regarding a new name that God was going to give to His people.

“The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name… You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord GOD will slay you, and call His servants by another name… Even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 62:5; 65:15; 56:5)

The prophet speaks of a ‘new’ ‘everlasting’ name that would be given by God after the Jewish system had ended and “the Gentiles saw righteousness.” (or were converted.) That occurred in Acts 10 with the conversion of Cornelius and his household, and in the very next chapter the Bible says: “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26)  Many scholars say that the word “called” here used has special reference to a divine calling. Certainly there is no other name than Christian which better fits these prophecies and can better describe what we are in our relationship to Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul expressed his approval of this name and his great desire to see it applied to all men over there in Acts 26:27-29 where the Bible says:

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

In 1 Peter 4:16 the Apostle Peter exhorted that we “glorify God” in the name Christian. I attest to you there is no other name by which we can give Him the glory. There are some today who would try to minimize the name Christian! Liberal scholars claim that it originated with the heathen as a form of derision, but surely the scriptures we have thus far noticed demonstrate that this precious name is not only divinely approved, but in fact it is of divine origin!

But now we might mention in closing that James, in the words of our text warned how the conduct of the men and women he was writing to allowed that “worthy name” to be blasphemed. Is that you today? If you call yourself a Christian, but have not obeyed the Gospel, then it is! You take the Lord’s name in vain every day that you call yourself one of His children. I can call myself Bob Smith all day long, but I am still Clint De France, and until you are born again, you cannot truly wear the name Christian. Maybe you are a Christian, but your conduct and your lifestyle drags that name through the dirt, people know that you are a member of the church of Christ, and you have brought reproach on him by your ungodly living!

Thank God for the wonderful fellowship He has given us with Him as individuals and churches to wear the precious name of Christ. Let us all cherish that treasure.

Should a Christian Vote in a Political Election? Part 1

Some of our readers may remember that back during the election we posted some information about the Christian and the Civil Government and God’s relationship to the Civil Government. I am glad to inform you that much insightful and spirited conversation ensued from that article, perhaps eliciting a greater response than any we have yet put up. In regards to some of the questions and comments I think it good to revisit the issue and establish more firmly some biblical facts.
There are many today who believe that it is not only a Christian’s God given right, or liberty to vote, but that it is a Christian’s responsibility, some even saying that it is a sin NOT to vote! Others believe that it is not only unwise or unnecessary, but even that the it is a sin TO vote! I believe that this alone is reason enough to give the issue some due consideration.

God’s Providence

There are few subjects more awesome, mysterious and wonderful that that of God’s providence or, his management and guidance over this universe. While we are insured time and time again of God’s omnipotence, there is not much that we are told of how God works insomuch as this is involved. It seems that the old adage, “the Lord moves in mysterious ways” is very applicable. Even inspired writers were hesitant to label something as definitely being the product of God’s providence. (Esther 4:14; Philemon 1:5) This is a subject which merits a lengthy study in its own right, but for now we consider what if anything, the Bible says about God’s providential control of the Kingdoms of Men.

The Devil and Civil Government

As was said in our last article, it is the belief of the writer that in a most intimate way, the Devil is the Ruler of Earthly Kingdoms. What does that mean? Well, quite simply it means that our President and congress are not making decisions and policies based upon the Bible, which is the sole medium through which God leads men’s actions in the world today. As far as I know there is no nation on this earth who is governed by strict adherence to the scriptures, if there was it wouldn’t be a nation, it would be a congregation of the Lord’s church! And so we have no reason to doubt at least a part of Satan’s statement to Jesus in Luke 4 “for this has been delivered to me…” (verse 6) man kind delivered a measure of the service to their devil when they turned their backs on God as their kings chose to follow after the flesh and carnal desires. Satan continued by claiming to Jesus that he “gives” authority and glory in earthly kingdoms “to whomsoever he wishes.” Well now, that is an interesting thought isn’t it! Here Satan Claims that HE gives out the power in man’s kingdoms! Is that true? Well Jesus did not argue with him, he did not tell him that his words were false. How could it be that Satan gives civil authority? I find no scripture to indicate that Satan has the powers of deity; I don’t believe that he does, but it does seem that sometimes the works of his followers are attributed to him. The world serves the devil, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and the world chooses who is put in office, whether by voting in an election or by violently taking and giving a throne in a civil war or some such thing. The word of God does not lead men to these things, so they are attributed to be works of the Devil.

God and the Civil Government

That being said we must also recognize that the Bible clearly teaches that God rules amidst the kingdoms of men as well. How does he do it? I do not know! The Bible tells us that years ago God “sent” nations here and there to do this and that. He called wicked Gentile kings his “servants” when he “used” them to accomplish some task. In fact in some cases we find were the Bible specifically tells of God raising up a man to set on the throne and striking another king dead for allowing himself to be worshiped. These brief glimpses behind the curtain of mystery which hides God’s providential work from our eyes only arouse our interest and amazement, but they do not answer the question of how. It is this writer’s firm conviction that God has in his power the ability to create and destroy as he wills, and that regardless of the Civil leaders, God is the master of this Universe, but how directly or indirectly does he involve himself? Beyond what the Bible specifically reveals we cannot know!

Does God Use Christians to Vote in His Candidate?

It is really amazing how providence is viewed as ammo for both sides of this issue! Some tell us that God providentially chooses every civil leader and if we vote, and happen to vote for the wrong person we have violated God’s will by voting against His candidate! Others tell us that God providentially uses Christians to put his person in office. To this writer there is still a great question that might never be fully answered as to how involved God is with the election and authority of every civil leader, but lets just say that God did use Christians to vote in his candidate. How would he do it? How would we know who to vote for? God does not highjack the free-will of men and guide them supernaturally, separate and apart from the scripture! If God wanted us to vote he would have told us how to vote in the scripture! He would have given some kind of principles to follow in our civil work, but the Bible still only tells Christians: pay, pray and obey. To just suppose that God wants you to vote and that some how he is going to ensure that you vote for the right person is to make broader, more sweeping assumptions about God’s providence than even the Apostles were willing to make! If there is justification or commandment for a Christian to vote, I do not believe it is to be found here. – CED

A Christian World View

A great topic of discussion in sectarian circles these days is the need for instilling a “Christian World View” in the minds of believers. As I understand this term, it refers to the attitude that we have when addressing all the areas of life around us. A true “Christian World View” would insist that we base all of our decisions and opinions of things on what the Bible says. This is easier dreamed of than done. Many people today will tell you that they believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and they believe the Bible is His word, but those truths should be restricted to the Church House. To try to carry that into the realm of science, morality, entertainment, culture, etc… would be going too far. This is an interesting thing to consider.

The Example of the New Testament Church

What makes a church a Church of Christ (Romans 16:16) is not that some conclave of men recognizes them as such and their name is stamped with a seal of approval and put on record in a basement somewhere. It is not being able to “rattle the chain of church secession,” nor is it determined on following one or two core creedal beliefs, but rather what makes a church a Church of Christ is submission to the instruction of the Bible alone (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and the example the early Church provides for us. When we do things as they did them, in the manner in which they did them, we will be one of them. So we ask, what of the Church under Apostolic guidance? What was it’s world view? Did Paul and Peter teach that Christianity should be confined to the worship service, but left out of daily affairs? Let us consider our only source:

 

A Christian View of Science

As Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, surrounded by the greatest intellectual minds of his day, he did not hesitate to present a “Christian World View”. To these poly-theists, pantheists and atheists he declared, “God, who made the world and everything in it… is Lord of heaven and earth. He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:24-26) He further affirmed that man could be, and often was wrong in his scientific theory. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called…” (1 Tim. 6:20) Some might say, “well I want to know what Jesus Christ thought about science and religion, surely he did not seek to mix the two?” Quite the contrary, there was never a more outspoken defender of the miracles and wonders of God than Jesus Christ. Surely the scientific world of today would balk at the claims of a man to be the Son of God, to have the power to heal the sick and raise the dead, to have control over the very forces of nature. The Lord convinced many of the great minds of His day, for example Luke, the gospel writer and author of the book of Acts was a physician, and held a “Christian View” of science.

A Christian View of Morality

It is interesting to see people trying to keep the Bible out of discussions on morality. Interesting I say, because there would be no concept of morality in human civilization and we would be but a raging chaotic race of cave men if not for the master work of God. Moral concepts that are realized without the scriptures are said to be “written in our hearts” by the hand of the Creator. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts.” (Romans 2:14-15). So we see that indeed even our most basic understanding of right and wrong comes from God, but we ask, “How do we now what is truly ‘good’?” Jesus gave us the answer, “No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17). There is no good to be found in this world, but by the word of God. Furthermore, we note that in the scripture we have “the truth,” the absolute standard that settles all matters of faith and practice. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) The only fitting view of moral issues is a Christian view.

A Christian View of the Government

One area where we find a great deal of activity today is the attempted merger of Church and State, but as we look into the scripture, we will see that this goes against the “Christian View” of earthly politics. The church is not told to take an active role in the affairs of the state, aside from being submissive, inasmuch as God is primarily served, and being good citizens, but of the Church it is said that we should behave as “guests” in the kingdoms of this world. We are in the world, but not of the world (1 Jn. 4:4-6). We are strangers and pilgrims (1 Pet. 2:11). We are not to involve ourselves with the affairs of the world (Rom.13:12), nor are we to love the world (1 Jn. 2:15). When I see Christians who are more concerned for the state of the State than the condition of the Church I am greatly troubled. When I see God’s people busier seeing to the President’s business than the King’s business, enthused and invigorated to go out and campaign for a ne’er-do- well senator, but unwilling to lift a finger to proclaim the sinless Christ, that is disturbing indeed. We thank God for the civil authorities, they are a gift from Him. They are sinners that the Lord uses to do the things Christians could never do (enact vengeance, take up arms, etc…) unto our protection from other sinners. We are to obey the Laws of the land, whether we think them unjust or not, so long as we give to God first (Matt. 22:20-21), pay our taxes, not speak evil of those in power (Titus 3:1-2) and pray for them.

Indeed we can all agree that a “Christian World View” is essential to being a New Testament Christian and being a Member of the New Testament Church. CED

You Are What You Eat!

Do you get more milk or meat in your diet? “I’ll have a chocolate shake and a cheeseburger, please. ” No, no. Not that kind of diet, I mean your scripture diet. Do you study and challenge yourself to get a little deeper into the Word, or do you just read the easy texts?

When we start out as babies we need lots of milk. As we grow, we begin to develop a need for stronger and more solid foods. If we consumed only milk, we would have major health problems and eventually die from malnutrition. So, as we develop, we need foods other than milk to give our bodies proper nutrition to reach adulthood.

Your spiritual growth is no different than your physical growth. We start as babies in Christ because at our baptism we were born again (John 3:3-6; Romans 6:4). Then we need food. What would the spiritual person need to eat? Things that cause spiritual growth. What gave us a new spirit? The scriptures. Therefore, we need to feed on the scriptures so that our spirit can grow. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.” I Peter 2:2.

As we begin the Christian walk, we will grasp the simpler passages and topics that we read and hear in the assembly. Then comes those adolescent years where we challenge everything we read and hear. Finally, we begin to mature and understand the broader topics that God has revealed in His Word.

We find Jesus, just after His baptism, in the wilderness were He is fasting to bring His mind into subjection so He can begin the great ministry. There Satan comes and tempts Jesus to eat. In this case, the food was bread. Remembering the importance of scripture over fleshly desires, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:1-4. Jesus reminded Himself and Satan during this strongly difficult time that, the spiritual foods are longer-lasting than the fleshly foods. The Word of God is the keeper of our spiritual life.

In John chapter four, we see Jesus having a discussion with a woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria. There He had asked this foreign woman for a drink. Jesus encourages the woman to ask Him for some water because He had the everlasting water of life. After she departs the disciples come to Jesus and try to get Him to eat something. His reply is simple, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” John 4:34. So there is food and drink for the spiritual being, it is the Word and Will of God. We will not grow by reading or hearing only, but by doing (James 1:22).

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6.

There were a few times that the Lord fed the multitude with some loaves and fishes. After a while, the people followed Jesus only to be fed in this miraculous way, and perhaps for the entertainment of His words and healing. We should always be mindful that the Lord knows our hearts as He knew theirs. “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.’” John 6:26-27.

Shortly after this admonition, Jesus makes another profound statement. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53. Jesus was explaining to the crowd that He was the embodiment of the Word of God. Without total belief and devotion, no one could be saved. Many people would no longer follow Him, because His words were too hard to understand. He lovingly asks the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:67-68.

In our spiritual walk, we need to PRO-gress (forward) not RE-gress (backward). Concerning the young Corinthian church, Paul gave them simple teaching with the encouragement to grow up toward Christian maturity. They didn’t. At first he was “tolerant” as they learned, but when he saw they had not progressed, he became stern and commanded them to pay attention to their undone condition. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” I Corinthians 3:1-3. These had returned to a worldly standard of living and not achieved the spiritual maturity necessary to survive this side of eternity.

We must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The more we grasp now in our youth, the stronger and more stable we will be in the days ahead. There would be a great loss to the church if we had only “children” trying to tend the flock and none able to tell right from wrong. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those having their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14.

Get involved in your bible Don’t just read, study. The next time you hear someone say, “Do you want fries with that?”, remember to give your spiritual person some food too. –Sean S. McCallister