From Jim McGuiggan... Church Unity And Who We Are

Church Unity And Who We Are 

Connected to that there's another engine that feeds our eager attempts to maintain our unity; there's the vision of who we are. Paul makes the astonishing claim that that for which God exercised his power in Jesus Christ he pursues through us the church or body of Christ (1:19). And in 3:10 he says that the church is a witness to all the powers in the universe that God has summed up and reconciled all things in heaven and on earth in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10, 21-23 with Colossians 1:20). To say we have some inner superiority over the rest of creation would be silly since our place in all this is sheer gift and privilege (1:3-14). Still, here we are, God's community of witness to the universe and all in it! And we're told that that role as witness will never end (3:20-21).

Witness to the whole creation? Do we hold out hope only for ourselves? Hardly! Surely we hold out hope for the entire human race. And is that all (as if it were not enough)? Isn't there a groaning creation in Romans 8:18-22 that keeps a longing eye on us, waiting for the day of our complete glorification? Looking to us because we have the Holy Spirit as pledge that such groaning is not in vain? Aren't the groans coming to us from every quarter? There are the three-legged cats with piteous meows, collapsed old bridges with their ribs jammed into dried up riverbeds, creaking and protesting in the wind. There are the derelict buildings with windows that are really eyes without souls where ghostly winds enter and moan up and down in the deserted halls and then there are the tired old dogs like "Jordan" with stomach tumours and deep eyes full of questions. Do we confront all that and speak hope to the emptiness, weariness and longing? Is that who we are? If so, no wonder he says we should be eager to maintain church unity because the reconciled Community is a promise of a larger restoration and reconciliation.
And are there beings in those "heavenly places" who have sinned against God to whom forgiveness is possible through an atonement wrought by God here on this little out-of-the-way planet? If there are and if it's possible then perhaps our witness that the holy love of God met sin even beyond the stars and made atonement for it is even grander than we know it is. Does it matter to other worlds that we protect and nurture the unity of the Spirit that has been created by the Father through his Son? Is that possible? Do the scriptures allow for that? If so, no wonder our gallant God so passionately put his shoulder to the foundation of sin's wall. If so, shouldn't we be ashamed not to join him in it? Worse, should we be ten thousand times ten thousand times ashamed if we got in his way?

The Name “Christian” by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Name “Christian”

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Christendom is conspicuous for the myriad of names worn by individuals and churches—from “Catholic” and “Protestant” to Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Episcopalian, and an innumerable host of others. Those who employ these terms to identify their religious orientation also would claim to be “Christian”—as if the secondary terms are simply further refinements or clarifications of the broader, more basic designation of Christian.
Whence did these names arise? History answers this question for each name. For example, “Catholic” simply means “comprehensive” or “universal.” The Catholic Church therefore wishes to emphasize that it constitutes the universal church. “Baptist” is connected to the Greek word for immersion, and thus represents the wearer’s conviction that baptism is by immersion. A “Baptist” is an “immersionist.” “Presbyterian” comes from the Greek word presbuteros, which refers to the form of government by which the church is to be organized. A “presbyter” in the New Testament was one of a plurality of elders who functioned as the leaders or overseers of the local congregation. “Pentecostal” refers to the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to speak in tongues. Thus a “Pentecostal” is one who believes in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. All other names, terms, and designations by which people who claim to be Christian refer to themselves may also be explained on the basis of some doctrine or feature of Christianity that historically came to receive special emphasis among a specific group of people.
What does the New Testament have to say about this state of affairs? Does Christ sanction the use of differing names and terms to identify individuals and churches? Perhaps the place to begin is in the Old Testament when the messianic prophet Isaiah predicted that the day would come when God would implement a “new name:”
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.
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 (Isaiah 62:1-2).
This fascinating prophecy contains four points that merit close consideration: (1) Righteousness/salvation would go forth from Jerusalem; (2) the Gentiles would see this righteousness/salvation; (3) a new name would be given; and (4) the Lord Himself would bestow that new name.
One must go to the New Testament to find fulfillment and clarification of these marvelous assertions. A number of names are used to refer to God’s people in the New Testament, including believer, disciple, saint, servant, and brother. But all of these terms were used previously in the Old Testament (Exodus 4:31; Isaiah 8:16; John 9:28; Psalm 106:16; Proverbs 2:8; Leviticus 25:46,55; Nehemiah 1:2). They were not new. Isaiah’s inspired prediction allows us to pinpoint the precise occasion on which a new name was given. His first indicator was that righteousness or salvation would go forth from Jerusalem. Here is an apparent allusion to the commencement of the Christian era on the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 30, described in detail in Acts 2. After His death and resurrection, Jesus instructed His apostles to go to Jerusalem and there await the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4,12). They did so, and the Holy Spirit, as predicted, empowered the apostles to present the Gospel message and to launch Christianity and the church of Christ (Acts 2). Indeed, on that auspicious occasion, just as Isaiah predicted, the means to salvation went forth as brightness, and proceeded to go forth from Jerusalem even as Jesus predicted (Acts 1:8). The first point of Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled.
However, the throng gathered on Pentecost was composed entirely of Jews (Acts 2:5). In fact, though about 3,000 were converted to Christianity that day (Acts 2:41), and several thousand thereafter (Acts 4:4; 5:14; 6:1,7), all the converts were Jewish. Samaritans (half-Jews) were eventually incorporated into the Lord’s church (Acts 8:5ff.). But it was not until perhaps eight to ten years later that the first Gentiles obeyed the Gospel and were added to the church. This momentous event occurred when Peter, at the instigation of a heavenly vision, agreed to go to the home of a Roman centurion to preach the Gospel to him, his family, and close friends (Acts 10:24). They, in turn, became the very first Gentile converts to Christianity as a result of hearing the preached message and submitting themselves to water baptism (Acts 10:47-48; 11:14).
But look back at Isaiah’s prophecy. The second action that Isaiah anticipated would occur, after salvation went forth from Jerusalem, was that the Gentiles themselves would be the recipients of this same righteousness/salvation and likewise bask in the glory of the Lord. The conversion of Cornelius and those with him in Acts 10 constitutes the fulfillment of the second criterion of Isaiah’s prediction. Incredibly, immediately after the conversion of the Gentiles in Acts 10, in the very next chapter, Luke reported that Peter was confronted by hostile Jerusalem Jews who had heard about the inclusion of Gentiles into the Christ’s church. These Jewish Christians insisted that he give account of his actions. He did so in Acts 11:4-18, recounting sequentially the events of Acts 10. Upon hearing of these astounding events orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, the hostile Jews melted, backed off, glorified God, and conceded: “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18). This was an amazing concession that further cleared the way for Gentile missions.
At this point in his inspired narrative, beginning in Acts 11:19, Luke proceeded to clarify the full significance of what had just occurred. The persecution that drove Jewish Christians out of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-4) forced them to travel into predominately Gentile areas. However, these Jewish Christians had refrained from imparting the Gospel message to Gentiles (Acts 11:19). But with the conversion of the household of Cornelius, the Gospel now began to be presented to the predominately Gentile population in the city of Antioch: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). Aside from Cornelius’ own household, Antioch thus became the first Gentile church of Christ in all of human history. The church in Jerusalem immediately sent Barnabas to Antioch to confirm the reports, who in turn (quite logically) went to Tarsus in search of the “apostle to the Gentiles,” Paul, to introduce him into the mix at Antioch. Together, the two men spent an entire year meeting with the church and teaching many people.
In line with the prophecy of Isaiah, the first two preconditions to God imparting a new name had now been met. If the application of Isaiah’s prophecy is correct, one ought naturally next to expect the bestowal of the new name. We are not disappointed. The very next statement by Luke is simply: “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). What an earthshaking statement! Astonishing! Isaiah was absolutely accurate—dead on! Consider the following three observations about this astounding moment in human history.
First, observe that from the inception of Christianity (Acts 2), converts were called “disciples.” They were not called Christians on the day of Pentecost! Though thousands had converted to Christianity, and now belonged to Christ and were therefore followers of Christ, they nevertheless were not called Christians. Unlike Judaism, one of the central features of New Testament Christianity is its international application—with absolutely no consideration given to ethnicity. In this sense, the church of Christ reached its full existence only when Gentiles were incorporated into its membership (cf. “also to the Greek” in Romans 1:16; 2:9-10). This circumstance came only with the conversion of Cornelius and the commencement of the Antioch church of Christ. Thus we do not read what we would full well expect to find: that “the disciples were called Christians first in Jerusalem.”
Second, Luke included a grammatical feature worth considering. He said the disciples “were called.” The term he used (chrematidzo) is typically used in the New Testament in relation to those occasions when God is specifically the One Who does the calling: “to appoint, warn, or nominate, by Divine direction” (Clarke, n.d., p. 772; cf. McCord, n.d., 2:311). The term occurs nine times in the New Testament: Matthew 2:12,22; Luke 2:26; Acts 10:22; 11:26; Romans 7:3; Hebrews 8:5; 11:7; 12:25 (Moulton, et al., 1978, p. 1011). In every case, divine calling, warning, or admonition is contextually self-evident (cf. Thayer, 1901, p. 671; Robertson, 1930, 3:160). In fact, several translations indicate this use of the word by inserting “by/from/of God” (KJV, ASV, NASB, RSV), or “divinely” instructed/warned (NKJV) in some or all of the passages.
Third, observe the final feature of Isaiah’s prophecy: “which the mouth of the Lord will name” (Isaiah 62:2). Church historians insist that the name “Christian” arose as the result of persecution wherein the enemies of Christ originated the name as a term of derision. However, they are mistaken. Isaiah predicted that God Himself would be the author of the name. And so He was. The name Christian is, indeed, so special that it occurs only three times in the New Testament and each time flags a critical aspect of the name. In addition to Acts 11:26, where the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy spotlights the magnificent inclusion of the Gentiles in the church of Christ, the word occurs again in Acts 26:28. In that setting, Paul strove ardently to convert King Agrippa. Agrippa indicated his awareness that Paul’s purpose—his mission and goal in life—was to make people Christians. He endeavored to make people followers of Christ—not followers of Moses or any other religion.
The final occurrence of the word Christian in the New Testament is Peter’s use of the term in a context dealing with suffering that is inflicted on God’s people by their enemies: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Peter 4:16). “In this matter” in the NKJV is a rendering of the literal Greek phrase “in this name,” i.e., the name “Christian.” Peter insisted that the suffering that is heaped upon a follower of Christ ought to be borne under the name Christian—not some other religious appellation.
Writing over 200 years ago, Rice Haggard recognized the extreme importance of the name “Christian” in the divine scheme of things, when he wrote: “[I]t is but a due honor to the Lord Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, that they who profess his religion, should wear his name” (1804, p. 14).


Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary: Matthew-Acts (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury).
Haggard, Rice (1804), An Address to the Different Religious Societies, on the Sacred Import of the Christian Name (Lexington, KY: Joseph Charless).
McCord, Hugo (no date), Fifty Years of Lectures (Atwood, TN: Atwood Church of Christ).
Moulton, W.F., A.S. Geden, and H.K. Moulton (1978), A Concordance to the Greek Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark), fifth edition.
Robertson, A.T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (New York, NY: Harper).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).

From Mark Copeland... It's Time To Wake Up! (Romans 13:11-14)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                    It's Time To Wake Up! (13:11-14)


1. Apathy and lethargy are problems that often afflict the people of
   a. Many Christians simply "go through the motions"
   b. Many Churches exist, but with little zeal or progress

2. Such problems were common in New Testament times...
   a. The church in Ephesus left their first love - Re 2:4
   b. The church in Laodicea became lukewarm - Re 3:15-16

3. Paul felt the need to exhort the brethren in Rome to awake from sleep
   - Ro 13:11-14
   a. "To awake from carelessness and indifference" - B. W. Johnson
   b. "To shake off slothfulness, security, and all former sinful
      courses" - Poole
   c. To awake from "stupid, fatal indifference to eternal things" - JFB

[Have we become lethargic and indifferent to eternal things?  If so,
"It's Time To Wake Up!"  With Paul's exhortation before us, consider
some reasons...]


      1. Knowing the nature of time
         a. Time is short
         b. Time is fleeting - Jm 4:14-17
      2. Knowing what time it is
         a. Now is the time to obey the Lord
         b. Now is day of salvation - 2Co 6:1-2

      1. Our salvation is nearer - in what way?
         a. The Lord's return is nearer
         b. Our own death is nearer, should we die before the Lord
            returns - cf. He 9:27
      2. Than we first believed
         a. Every day brings us closer
         b. Think of how much time has gone by since we believed!

      1. The night - referring to the moral darkness of this world - cf.
         1Jn 2:8
      2. Is far spent - lit., "is cut off" It is becoming short; it is
         hastening to a close - cf. 1Co 7:31b
      3. This world and time as we know it will not last long

      1. "The day of eternal blessedness is at hand - is about to dawn
         on us in our glorious resurrection unto eternal life" - Clarke
      2. Until which the Word of God serves as a light shining in the
         dark - cf. 2Pe 1:19

[Since these things are true, let us walk (conduct ourselves)


      1. Such things as mentioned in this text:
         a. Revelry, drunkenness, lewdness
         b. Lust, strife, envy
      2. Such things as mentioned in other texts:
         a. Adultery, fornication, idolatry, sorcery, hatred,
            contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish
            ambitions, dissension's, heresies, murders - cf. Ga 5:19-21
         b. Passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, malice,
            blasphemy, filthy language, lying - cf. Col 3:5-8

      1. The breastplate of faith and love, the hope of salvation as a
         helmet - 1Th 5:8
      2. That armor of God including truth, righteousness, the gospel,
         faith, the hope of salvation, the Word of God - cf. Ep 6:10-17

      1. First, in baptism
         a. For in baptism we "put on" Christ - Ga 3:27
         b. We are raised "with" Christ, "made alive together with Him"
            - Col 2:11-13
      2. Then, in developing Christ-like character
         a. Putting on the new man, renewed in knowledge, with tender
            mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering,
            forbearance, forgiving one another, love - Col 3:10-14
         b. Being renewed in mind, a new man in true righteousness and
            holiness - Ep 4:20-24
         c. Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ - cf.
            2Pe 1:5-8; 3:18

      1. Something we must do!
         a. If we want to live spiritually - cf. Ro 8:12-13a
         b. If we desire the love of the Father - cf. 1Jn 2:15-17
      2. Something we can do!
         a. With the aid of the Spirit - cf. Ro 8:13b; Ep 3:16,20; Ga 5:
         b. With the aid of God's providence - cf. 1Co 10:13
         c. With the aid of watchful prayer - Mt 26:41; cf. 1Pe 4:7;
      3. How serious are we in this regard?
         a. Do we avoid circumstances that might tempt the flesh?
         b. Do we abstain from activities that arouse fleshly lusts?


1. Brethren, are we sleeping...?
   a. Indifferent to matters of the spirit, careless about things
   b. Lethargic in our service to the Lord, apathetic about our
      spiritual well-being?

2. If so, then "It's Time To Wake Up!"...
   a. The time to change and grow will be soon be gone!
   b. The day of eternity will arrive and we won't be ready!

3. Let us be children of the day, not of the night...
   a. Put on the Lord Jesus
   b. Put on the armor of light
   c. Walk properly
   d. Make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its fleshly lusts

...and we can look forward to obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ!
- cf. 1Th 5:1-11

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading September 9

Bible Reading  

September 9

The World English Bible

Sept. 9
Psalms 52-54
Psa 52:1 Why do you boast of mischief, mighty man? God's loving kindness endures continually.
Psa 52:2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
Psa 52:3 You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking the truth. Selah.
Psa 52:4 You love all devouring words, you deceitful tongue.
Psa 52:5 God will likewise destroy you forever. He will take you up, and pluck you out of your tent, and root you out of the land of the living. Selah.
Psa 52:6 The righteous also will see it, and fear, and laugh at him, saying,
Psa 52:7 "Behold, this is the man who didn't make God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness."
Psa 52:8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in God's house. I trust in God's loving kindness forever and ever.
Psa 52:9 I will give you thanks forever, because you have done it. I will hope in your name, for it is good, in the presence of your saints.

Psa 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity. There is no one who does good.
Psa 53:2 God looks down from heaven on the children of men, to see if there are any who understood, who seek after God.
Psa 53:3 Every one of them has gone back. They have become filthy together. There is no one who does good, no, not one.
Psa 53:4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and don't call on God?
Psa 53:5 There they were in great fear, where no fear was, for God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you. You have put them to shame, because God has rejected them.
Psa 53:6 Oh that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God brings back his people from captivity, then Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
Psa 54:1 Save me, God, by your name. Vindicate me in your might.
Psa 54:2 Hear my prayer, God. Listen to the words of my mouth.
Psa 54:3 For strangers have risen up against me. Violent men have sought after my soul. They haven't set God before them. Selah.
Psa 54:4 Behold, God is my helper. The Lord is the one who sustains my soul.
Psa 54:5 He will repay the evil to my enemies. Destroy them in your truth.
Psa 54:6 With a free will offering, I will sacrifice to you. I will give thanks to your name, Yahweh, for it is good.
Psa 54:7 For he has delivered me out of all trouble. My eye has seen triumph over my enemies.

Sept. 9
1 Corinthians 5

1Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that one has his father's wife.
1Co 5:2 You are puffed up, and didn't rather mourn, that he who had done this deed might be removed from among you.
1Co 5:3 For I most certainly, as being absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though I were present, judged him who has done this thing.
1Co 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Co 5:5 are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1Co 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump?
1Co 5:7 Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place.
1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1Co 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners;
1Co 5:10 yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world.
1Co 5:11 But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don't even eat with such a person.
1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don't you judge those who are within?
1Co 5:13 But those who are outside, God judges. "Put away the wicked man from among yourselves."

From Gary... Hypocrite!!!

Matthew 7:1-5 NASB
(1)  "Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
(2)  "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
(3)  "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
(4)  "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?
(5)  "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Matthew 7:13-27 NASB
(13)  "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
(14)  "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
(15)  "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
(16)  "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
(17)  "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
(18)  "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
(19)  "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
(20)  "So then, you will know them by their fruits.
(21)  "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
(22)  "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
(23)  "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
(24)  "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
(25)  "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
(26)  "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
(27)  "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."

Astrid Olsen put this graphic on facebook today (way to go, Astrid) and it is a good one!!!  And those of us who call ourselves Christians can relate to it.  Face it, we all do things we wish we didn't do and hate ourselves for doing them.  But, God works on us, improving our lives.  Sometimes it is easy to spot the wrong that we do, and at other times it takes a long time to realize how we err. But, Jesus is always there and with his help, we always strive to be the best we can be!!!  The verses above are especially important because if someone has ever called you a hypocrite to your face, they come back to haunt you!!!  Usually, this happens when someone feels threatened about their own sin and as a defensive measure they attack YOU!!!  However, look to the "log" in your own eye (heavy emphasis on LOG [seems to me that this refers to big things, doesn't it?] !!!!) and judge fairly!!!  I think the key to dealing with all this is to know in your heart that you are earnestly, constantly, and perhaps even fervently seeking to know God's will and do it. If the apostle Paul could refer to himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and from reading his letters I think it is safe to say that he was utterly committed to Christ and undoubtedly sincere.  Then, what about the average Christian? Like Ezra of old, dedicate yourself to the following...

Ezra 7:10 NASB
(10)  For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

and think about that picture...