In the days of Noah, all of the world’s population except eight people was disobedient and perished in the waters of the great flood: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5-6). It seems Noah preached to them about the impending destruction for many years:
Genesis 6:3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
EIGHT SOULS “WERE” SAVED THROUGH WATER
When the ark was finished, those who were obedient, went into the ark, “…in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). Please note that the water, by which the world perished, is the same water that saved those obedient souls who were in the ark of safety—Noah’s Ark. Peter declares emphatically that “eight souls were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20).
HOW WATER BAPTISM “NOW” SAVES US
In the next place, the apostle Peter launches into how water baptism also now saves us—the obedient people living in the Christian age:
1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. NKJV
The subject of water baptism is mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament, and is one of the most explained topics affecting our salvation from sin. Water baptism may be classified under three heads: (1) the subject of baptism—all people accountable; (2) the action of baptism—immersion in water; and (3) the purpose of baptism—”for the remission of sins.”
THE TYPE AND THE ANTITYPE
Some commentators have said that water “baptism does not now save us,” contradicting the inspired words of the apostle. They contend that water baptism is only a figure of speech. It is true that in 1 Peter 3:20-21, Peter does say that “baptism does also now save us” as an “antitype” of the “eight souls saved by water,” in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20-21). If the water “baptism that does now also save us,” is the “antitype,” then “the eight souls who were saved by water” in the days of Noah, is the “type.” In these examples it does not matter whether the water is the type or the antitype as far as salvation is concerned. The water of the flood saved eight people from physical destruction and the water “baptism that does now also save us,” is spiritual salvation from sin.
But water baptism is not the only thing that saves us. We are saved by faith, repentance, and confession of our faith, and living a faithful Christian life. We are saved by all these actions because of the atonement of Christ and the shedding of his precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). “Baptism does now save us” because that is where we come into contact with the death of Christ and the blood of Christ (John 19:33-34; Romans 6:1-4).
“(For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us) Psalms33:22 NKJV
Perhaps this is where James Madison and the Founding Fathers got the idea for Three Branches of Government. The Church or the Kingdom of God is under three branches of government. God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit compose the Divine Government! The Lord is our Judge, Lawgiver and King, according to Isaiah.
Our forefathers struggled to be free from dictatorial, absolute human monarchy. When asked who would be our King, Thomas Paine exclaimed, “But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal Brute of Britain.”-Common Sense.
A subject being hotly debated today is The Constitution of the United States of America. This amazing document has guided our blessed republic for 233 years. This is a record, for republics have been short lived throughout the history of man.
In the summer of 1787 seventy four delegates were invited to Philadelphia to a Congress to attempt to modify or replace the Articles of Confederation that had become inadequate to govern the new nation. In the end only 55 delegates showed up. George Washington left his retirement from under his own vine and fig tree at Mount Vernon, and became the President of the Continental Congress. And on September 17, 1787 the U. S. Constitution was signed by 38 out of the 55 men present.
Before this document was signed the founding fathers had constant debates about each item and how it would affect the liberties of the people and the states. Their constant vigil was to protect the freedoms that had been purchased at such great cost of blood and treasure. Every citizen would do well to read the book, The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution by Brion McClanahan. This would embolden us to speak up and stand up for our constitutional liberties that are under attack today and which we all are in danger of losing because of an uninformed citizenry.
This Constitution including the first 10 amendments that were added later and those that have been added since then, has been the bedrock foundation of all of our freedoms and privileges as citizens of this great republic for over two centuries.
Our second President, John Adams wrote these three thoughts about our Constitution:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” “The church is the moral compass of society.” “We have no constitution which functions in the absence of a moral people.”
Recently, The Indianapolis Star had an article stating that our country is moving away from religion and morality. This is why that many political leaders and many citizens are moving away from the founding Document of the Constitution. May God help us to have a revival of interest in upholding the Constitution by a revival of religion and morality!
THE NATURE AND USE OF CONSTITUTIONS
Webster defines a constitution to be, “the fundamental principles of a nation, state, or body politic that determines the powers and duties of the government and guarantees certain rights to the people and that together constitute the organic law of the land.” The word constitution also refers to “a written instrument embodying such rules.”
By the same token, the kingdom of God or the church of Christ must be under some type of constitutional arrangement in order to be called a kingdom or church. In one sense, we might say the entire New Testament is the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven. But that does not accurately describe a constitution. A constitution is actually a summary that comprehends all of the laws and institutions within that kingdom. So today we will be looking for a summary of the laws, institutions, responsibilities and privileges of the people of God to be found in the kingdom of God.
IN EVERY AGE GOD HAS PLACED MAN UNDER A CONSTITUTION
The Patriarchal Age In the patriarchal age that lasted from Adam to Moses—approximately 2500 years, the people were under the constitutional arrangement of the patriarch of each family, clan and tribe. The word patriarch means the father. During this period the fathers carried out the laws and institutions and privileges and responsibilities of each family under God’s instructions given to the fathers at that time.
During this time, we take note that in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were placed under a constitutional arrangement. God spoke to them face to face and mouth-to-mouth and gave them the first constitution. It briefly stated their obligations and their privileges to live in the beautiful garden that God had created for man. Their privileges and freedom definitely outweighed their constitutional obligations. They had the freedom to eat of the fruit of every tree that was in the garden, but they also had the responsibility to refrain from eating the tree in the midst of the garden—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their greatest privilege and liberty was to eat from the tree of life that would perpetuate their earthly existence.
After they were expelled from the Garden of Eden because of their sin, they and their two sons were still under some kind of constitutional arrangement. In every age of those who worship God by faith we find these three items: an altar, a sacrifice, and a priest. The altar was usually made out of stone, the sacrifice was a lamb etc., and the priest was the patriarch or the father of each family. We see these three items in the worship practiced by Cain and Abel—the altar, the sacrifice and the priest. The Bible says that, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).
The Mosaic Age The next age named The Mosaic Age, which lasted from Moses to Christ—a period of about 1500 years, God communicated the Constitution of the Kingdom of Israel through Moses, of which a constitutional summary is found in the 10 Commandments given on Mount Sinai as recorded in Deuteronomy 5-6. This constitutional arrangement was explained and applied through additional revelations to Moses and Aaron.
The Christian Age Now in these last days, we live under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven, set up by the Lord Jesus Christ whose reign will continue until he comes back again. There are several passages of Scripture that summarizes this Constitution throughout the New Testament. A summary of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven may be found in Matthew 5-7 in the Sermon on the Mount. Also Romans chapter 12 is a good summary of this Constitution. And one of the most beautiful summaries is found in what some have thought to be an early hymn that was sung in the worship of the church. It is recorded in 1Timothy 3:14-16:
14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 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. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. NKJV
But in this lesson we will speak of a very comprehensive summary of the laws, institutions, responsibilities and privileges of every citizen in the Kingdom of Heaven found in the book of Hebrews 8:1-13. The first verse says, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum” (Hebrews 8:1 KJV).
CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES OF PRIVILEGES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
A constitution is a guarantee to those who are to govern a kingdom or nation. It stipulates the extent of their privileges and responsibilities. It is also a guarantee to every citizen of the extent of their stipulated liberties and responsibilities.
For instance, to every American citizen our Constitution guarantees us the right of the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the freedom to assemble to redress or petition our government. We are also guaranteed in the second amendment the privilege and freedom of keeping and bearing arms in our homes in order to be called out to defend our liberties in a well-regulated militia. There are many more guarantees stipulated.
Therefore both those who govern and those who are governed are guaranteed the extent and continuance of all their stipulated privileges and responsibilities. On my Kindle I recently read an excellent book—Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankel—a survivor of the Nazi death camps. He recommended that we not only have the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast to symbolize our freedoms, but he thought it would be a good idea to have a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast, to symbolize that under this great republic we also have certain obligations and responsibilities on our part to keep. I think that is a good idea and from what I can find on the Internet, a Statue of Responsibility is already under construction and will be located on some island off the west coast.
But also under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven we are guaranteed the freedom from sin and the privilege to live a joyful life in Christ, free from guilt and with the hope of eternal life. Many other such privileges are guaranteed to the faithful and obedient child of God. We also have the responsibility to be good citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, and to be faithful and obedient to our great King Jesus Christ. But at this point let us look at some of the constitutional provisions that are stipulated to each of us who have been born again into the kingdom of God (John 3:1-8).
THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The Constitutional Summary:
A constitution as we have previously indicated is a summary that comprehends all of the laws, institutions, responsibilities and privileges found in any kingdom or body politic.
In like manner, the writer of the book of Hebrews sums up all that he had been writing concerning the Kingdom of Heaven or the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 8:1-5 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
We notice in these verses the three items that we mentioned at the outset that are found in every constitutional arrangement under Almighty God. Those three things are an altar, a sacrifice and a priest. In this summary Jesus Christ is the high priest offering up himself as the ultimate atoning sacrifice on the altar of his own divinity. The book of Hebrews affirms that Jesus Christ in his own person is our Prophet, Priest and King.
A New Constitution (Covenant) Versus the Old Constitution (Covenant)
In the next order of business the author of the book of Hebrews informs us that our constitutional privileges and responsibilities in the kingdom of God will not be exactly the same as those that were under the previous Constitution of the Kingdom of Israel.
Hebrews 8:6-9 6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
Under this new constitution Christ has a better Ministry; and he is a better mediator of a better covenant based upon better promises. The Jewish constitution was faulty on man’s part, but the new constitution will correct this weakness. This new constitution will have such privileges and responsibilities guaranteed to every citizen that they will want to continue to be faithful and enjoy the ultimate privilege of living in heaven. What are those constitutional privileges guaranteed to every citizen who has been born into Kingdom of Heaven?
There are four of these mentioned in this Constitutional summary in Hebrews chapter 8:10-12:
1. Under this new constitution God has promised that he will write his law into the minds and hearts of his people:
Hebrews 8:10 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
2. Also under this Constitution God has promised and assured each citizen that He will be their God and they will be His people—they will be His and He will be theirs.
Hebrews 8:10 … and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
3. God has also assured all of his citizens of having a just knowledge of his will. He will teach them through his Word everything they need to know.
Hebrews 8:11 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
Under the old constitution a person was born into God’s family by a physical birth, of and from the womb. Then as the child developed, instruction was given of his constitutional obligations and privileges. Under the new constitution, a person is taught first of his responsibilities and liberties, and then is born into the kingdom of God by a new birth of and from the water and the Spirit—faith and water baptism.
4. And last of all and the best of all, God has promised each citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven that he will be a merciful God and forgive all of their sins and iniquities and banish all guilt and fear from their conscience.
Hebrews 8:12 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Every citizen in the kingdom of God, having been forgiven upon entering that kingdom of all past sins is still in need of the mercy, grace and love of God. This is because we have sinned in the past, and we commit sins in the present. But when we continually have a penitent attitude, the blood of Christ continuously cleanses us of all our sins. This is declared by the apostle John:
1 John 1:5-10 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. ESV
These words represent the essence of a sermon I delivered at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, October 21, 2012, and will suffice until I have the time to transcribe the full sermon. May God help us to be good citizens of the United States of America and the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen. I have added some good thoughts from the prophet Isaiah and the application to our time.
When Jesus lived upon the earth he continually invited the people he met to come and follow him. Many did not accept his invitation, but made excuses why they either could not or would not learn of him. Once while Christ was at the table eating with his friends, a man spoke up and said, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15).
Jesus then compared the church or the kingdom of heaven to people invited to a great feast or supper. But they were full of excuses and went about their own business:
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come'” (Luke 14:18-20).
We need to be persistent in inviting everyone we come in contact with, to come and investigate the Christ and the church. When people make excuses, we must not become discouraged and give up. According to the sequel of the parable, the host instructed his servants to go out into the cities and villages and even the highways and byways, and invite as many as they found. The spiritual banquet hall of the Lord will be filled and it is up to us to make it happen.
But many times we who are the Lord’s servants make as many excuses for not inviting people as they do in turning down the invitation. Many people are members of the church because a friend or family member did not give up on them, but invited them to come to worship. Many of our fellow citizens think little about the spiritual education of their children and themselves. Let us make sure that their lack of interest is not because of our lack of interest in them.
The great and loving invitation of Jesus will stand until the end of the world:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:1-4).
Heartland members, let us invite as many family, friends and neighbors to our assembly each Sunday to an overflowing crowd!
When Jesus Christ sent the apostles out into the entire world to preach the gospel to every creature, he attended their ministry with signs and wonders and miracles:
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-20 NKJV).
The Purpose of Miracles Was To Confirm the Gospel
These miracles were designed to confirm the word. The writer makes an argument, a minore ad maius—from the less to the greater:
“For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will (Hebrews 2:2-4)?
Of course the answer is we shall receive a greater punishment if we neglect the great salvation offered by the Son of God and confirmed by the greatest demonstration of miracles!
How Miraculous Gifts Were Imparted
Not only were the apostles able to perform all of these wonders, but by the laying on of their hands they were also able to impart spiritual gifts to members of the New Testament church. For example, Peter and John, two apostles, were sent down to Samaria to impart spiritual gifts to those who had bean baptized for the remission of their sins. Philip, who preceded the apostles to Samaria, was able to work miracles himself; but not being an apostle, he was not able to impart them to others, this being reserved for the apostles (Acts 8:12-19).
The Many Manifestations of the Spirit
Today, there are a lot of persons claiming that they have the power to speak in tongues, heal the sick and receive direct revelations from God. This claim is false. In the church at Corinth, there were many members that received miraculous gifts. Later, when there was much discussion about the nature and use of these gifts, Paul wrote a letter to that church correcting their mistaken ideas, and informing them of the temporary nature of those gifts. There were several manifestations of the Spirit given to the members of the Corinthian church. Paul enumerates nine of them. They were: the word of wisdom; the word of knowledge; faith; the gifts of healing; the working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7-10). Whereas, the apostles could work all of these miracles, the members of the church received only the gift that God desired them to have (1 Corinthians 12:11). The apostle Paul emphasized this point when be said,
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
Miraculous Gifts Were Temporary
In chapter 13 of this same letter, Paul goes on to reveal that spiritual gifts, including tongues, were temporary, would pass away and be superseded by a better arrangement. A perfect and complete arrangement would take the place of that which was incomplete and partial. Paul said,
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
Paul does not mention all of the various miraculous gifts, but only three of them, they were: prophecies, tongues and knowledge. These three were representative of all of them.
All Miraculous Gifts Were To Cease
That which was to take place concerning these three gifts would be true of all the spiritual gifts. Paul used three verbs to describe the cessation of these gifts. Prophecies, tongues and knowledge were to cease, be stilled and pass away. Let us examine closely the meaning of those three words used to describe the end of all spiritual gifts. (1) First, “they shall cease.” The root meaning of this word is “to cause to cease; put an end to; do away with; annul and to abolish.” As it is used here in connection with prophecies it means they were to cease, pass and be done away. (2) In connection with tongues, Paul says, “they will be stilled.” There would be a time when speaking in tongues—languages—would “stop, be left off.” (3) Concerning miraculous knowledge, Paul says, “It will pass away.” How could we have any stronger language describing the end of miraculous spiritual gifts?
Love Would Never Cease
In contrast to the temporary nature of these miraculous gifts, “love never fails,” which simply means that it would “never perish, come to an end, disappear, cease, fail, fall;” whereas, these spiritual gifts were soon to pass away. Having stated that prophecy, tongues and knowledge were to cease, be stilled and pass away; Paul, introduced the reason why this would be in the next verse, saying, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10). The word “for” which introduces the statement in verses 9-10 indicates that Paul is going to give a reason or cause for the preceding statement which he has just made in verse 8.
Miraculous Gifts Were In Part
According to Paul, the reason all spiritual gifts were to cease, be stilled and pass away is because they were in part or incomplete. God did not reveal his revelation all at one time, but progressively over a period of 60-70 years. During that period of time, the revelation was in part. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). You will notice that Paul used the present tense in describing that which was in part.
During the age when prophecy and knowledge were in part, God was revealing his message, a little at a time. This reminds us of the statement made by the great prophet, Isaiah, when he said,
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people” (Isaiah 28:10-11).
The revelations by prophecy, tongues and miraculous knowledge were not complete, but were in part; they were constituent parts of the whole or complete revelation.
God’s Perfect Revelation Was to Replace Miraculous Gifts
In contrast to the incomplete state of revelation which prevailed at the time that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians; he anticipated a time when that would be replaced by something which would be perfect, complete, and whole, for he says, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10). The term “when” in this verse is an adverb of time, and is used in connection with a thing that is really to occur, but the time of that occurrence is not definitely stated in this verse. Here, it is used in the original with the subjunctive aorist verb, which means that it was to occur at a definite point of time. It had not occurred when Paul wrote the letter, but it definitely was going to occur; therefore, it was just one step away from reality. The point is this: whenever, that which is perfect came into being, that which is in part was to be done away.
We have already established “that which is in part” has reference to knowledge, tongues, and prophecies. The same word in the original that is used to describe the end of prophecies is that which is used to describe the end of that which is in part. Prophecies were to fail, and that which is in part was to be “done away;” therefore, there was to be a definite time when all miraculous gifts were to cease, vanish, fail, and to be done away. They were to be done away “when that which is perfect is come.” When that which is perfect came into being, when it showed itself forth, when it found place or influence among men, then that which is in part, that is, prophecies, tongues, knowledge, etc., were to be done away.
The New Testament Is God’s Perfect and Complete Revelation
To understand at what point in human history miraculous gifts ceased, it is necessary for us to identify that thing which is perfect, which was to come. The word “perfect” is used here properly to mean, “Brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, perfect” (Thayer, p. 618). The perfect thing which was to come is something that was to be complete, finished, and whole and brought to its proper object or goal. What was that thing? The Bible is its own best commentary. In the book of James, we have two verses that definitely help us in identifying “That which is perfect.” We are advised that: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The word “perfect” as used in this verse indicates that which is complete, finished, brought to its end, that which is whole. According to James, every good gift, and every complete gift comes from the Father above. In this same chapter, James says,
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
The Perfect Law of Liberty
According to James, the perfect law of liberty, that is, the New Testament is that complete law of liberty; it is that good gift and that complete gift which came down from God out of heaven, into which every man can look and see his spiritual image. Therefore, the complete New Testament is that thing which is perfect, which was to come and when having come, that “which is in part (miraculous gifts) was to be done away.”
God’s Word Completely Equips Us for Every Good Work
Near the end of Paul’s life, he wrote a letter to Timothy, a young preacher and companion, in which he said,
“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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The reason the Holy Scripture is able to make the man of God perfect or complete is because it (the Holy Scripture is perfect or complete. To this Jude agrees when he wrote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Therefore, when the New Testament came into being in its complete or finished form, then that which was in part (miraculous gifts) such as prophecies, tongues and knowledge ceased, passed away and was finished.
Act As A Child Or A Man?
In further illustration of the temporary nature of miraculous gifts, Paul said to the Corinthians, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). As in previous verses, that which was in part has been put in contrast with that which is perfect; so in this verse the state of a child is put in contrast with the state of a man. The spiritual gifts such as prophecies, tongues and knowledge are compared to a child in his speaking, understanding and thought; whereas, the complete and perfect New Testament is compared to a man’s speaking, understanding and thought. The point of illustration is this: just as the speech, understanding and thought of a child is incomplete and partial, so the understanding which came from prophecy, tongues and knowledge was incomplete and partial. Just as the transition from a child to a man took a certain period of time, so the transition of revelation from that which was in part to that which was perfect took a period of time.
Put Away Childish Actions
It would be just as foolish for a man who has completeness of understanding and speech to desire the incomplete state of a child as it would be for the church today to desire to leave the complete and perfect New Testament and go back to the incomplete state of miraculous gifts. Paul said, “When he became a man he put away childish things.” The word used to emphasize the end of childish things is “put away,” and it is the same word that Paul used to describe the end of prophecies, and the end of that which is in part. Therefore, today, let us put away all foolishness and have more confidence in the complete and perfect will of God which lives and abides forever.
Jesus is the Head of the One Church In the book of Ephesians, the one church which Jesus promised to build is mentioned several times as an established reality. In the first chapter, Paul affirmed the supreme authority of Christ as the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). This one church is spoken of as the body of Christ. The word “body” is in the singular. Christ is the one head, and the church is his one body which together forms a unit. This is a figurative reference to the human organism which has one head and one body. The idea of modern denominational-ism is foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. In New Testament times there were many congregations, but they all formed one body or one church.
The Mystery of the Jew and Gentile in One Church In chapter two, Paul speaks of the alienation of the Jew and the Gentile being reconciled together in one body, by the cross of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:16). The gospel is a gospel of peace to both the Jew and the Gentile, for it is through Christ that both have access unto the Father by the one Spirit into the one body. In chapter three, Paul speaks of the reconciliation of the Jew and Gentile in one body as a great mystery, which in previous ages had not been revealed unto the sons and daughters of men as it was being revealed at that time. The unity of both the Jew and Gentile in the one church, or the one body, manifested God’s great wisdom. Paul had been given a part in declaring this mystery to the whole world (Ephesians 3:9-10).
The One Church Makes Known the Manifold Wisdom of God It is the church in the singular which makes known the manifold wisdom of God, and not modern denominational-ism. It is in the one church that God’s glory and wisdom is manifested throughout all ages: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).
The One Body—The One Spirit In chapter four, Paul speaks of the unity of the church under the phrase, “the unity of the Spirit.” The unity of the church is outlined under seven units. Paul says, “…There is one body….” (Ephesians 4:3-6). We notice in these verses that there is just one body, and we have already learned that the one body is the church. Therefore, God does not have but one church or one body. It would be just as reasonable to say that there are many Gods or many Lords as to say there are many churches or bodies.
Christ is the Savior of the Body In chapter five, Paul says that Christ “is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23.) The singular nouns body and church are used instead of the plural. This teaches, as in every other place that Christ has but one church or body, and he is the savior of that body as well as being its head and ruler.
Shelby G. Floyd Heartland Church of Christ 1693 West Main Street Greenwood, Indiana 46142
This evening I am reading to you one verse from Psalms 133 which will serve as a basis of our remarks. David said,
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalms 133:1 NKJV)
Now notice from that statement that there is something good and there is something pleasant about unity among God’s people.
SOME THINGS ARE GOOD, BUT NOT PLEASANT
But, in a lot of other ways, some things that are good are not pleasant, and some things that are pleasant are not good. You might go to the doctor and he would say, “Now you have a terrible sickness and I can give you some medicine that will cure you.” He might give you a prescription and you would go to the drugstore and have it filled and come home and read the label, “Take two tablespoons twice a day.” And then you would open up the bottle and pour out a big tablespoon of that medicine and take it and it would taste awful. It would not be very pleasant, would it? But you would continue to do that for two or three weeks and the first thing that you would know, the sickness that you had contracted would be over, you would be cured, and you could truthfully say, “That medicine was unpleasant, but oh my, it was good because it cured the sickness that I had.”
SOME THINGS ARE PLEASANT, BUT NOT GOOD
On the other hand, it might be that there are some things that are pleasant but that are not good. For instance, the writer of Hebrews says that there is pleasure in sin:
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
So we might indulge ourselves in all kinds of sinful activities and it might be pleasant. We might derive pleasure and satisfaction from it, but who is their among God’s people that would stand up and affirm that such is good?
But, you know, there is something about unity that is both good and pleasant. And I love that remark of David’s when he said, “behold.” The word “behold” means, stop! Take a look! Give your attention. Focus your mind upon this thing. So he is saying, “Stop, look, listen, behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
This evening we will be talking about unity under five or six points, all of which will start with P. and I hope that will help you to remember the remarks that I prepared for our study tonight.
PRAY FOR UNITY
The first thing that I want to point out is that Jesus Christ prayed for unity. And if we are going to have unity today in the religious world and the church, I believe we ought to pray for unity. Last Sunday evening I talked to you about the importance of prayer and what I said then will apply to our subject tonight.
You know, Jesus Christ was the divine Son of God, but he prayed for the unity of his people. In John 17 we have what we call the intercessory prayer of Jesus Christ just before he was taken and crucified upon the cross. Near the end of that prayer Jesus said,
John 17:20-21 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. KJV
Now notice here that Jesus was praying for unity, not union. He was praying for unity throughout the entire world on the part of those who would believe on ham. Therefore, the scope reaches out to all who would believe on Christ through the apostle’s word. He was praying for unity, not union; that is, oneness of mind and purpose, in attitude, thought and action.
And we notice in the next place, that he was praying for the kind of unity that exists between him and his Father. As the Father was in him and he was in the Father, which is the kind of unity he wants his followers to have. He and his Father is not one person, but they were united in their work and their purpose.
In the next place, we notice the reason he prayed for this unity—in order that they might believe that God had sent him. Someone has said that the price that has been paid for a divided church is an unbelieving world. We know that the division in the religious world today contributes to more religious division. So Jesus is praying for the unity of all who might believe on him.
And I ask you tonight, how long has it been since you prayed for religious unity? How long has it been since you prayed for the unity of this church of which you are a member? You know, we need to get down on our knees and with tears pour out our hearts in prayer that God might help us to be united in service to him and in the congregation of which we are members. Therefore, we ought to pray for unity like Jesus Christ did.
But it is not enough to only pray for unity. In the second place, we ought to practice unity. And, you know, to pray for something and then not try to practice it is the very definition of hypocrisy. Jesus would not want us to pray for something and then not seek to practice it. The early church both prayed for and practiced religious unity. On the birthday of the church in Acts 2, we find that 3000 people received the word of God gladly and were baptized, and they were added unto the apostles and, therefore, formed the nucleus of the New Testament church (Acts 2:36-47). But shortly after that, the Bible says, they “continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42). There was unity being practiced. Not only that, but they were of one heart and one soul. Neither did any of them say that the things that they had were their own, but on this occasion they even sold their property and their possessions and laid the price at the apostles feet that distribution might be made among all who were in need. Was not that a wonderful spirit of unity in Jerusalem church? They practiced religious unity. They practiced what they preached and what they prayed for! And so must we.
PROBLEM OF RELIGIOUS DIVISION
But it is not enough just to pray for unity and practice unity, but we must deal with the problem of division. There is religious division today and there was religious division then! In Matthew 12, Jesus had just cast out some evil spirits and they had charged that he was casting these evil spirits out by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Then Jesus replied with a fourfold argumentation in answer to their charge.
He pointed out in the first place, that every house divided cannot stand. Every kingdom divided cannot stand. And he said, “If Satan is casting out Satan, then his kingdom is divided and therefore his kingdom will fall.” Well, of course, the kingdom of Satan is going to fall. It will not stand forever. But it is not true that Satan is casting out Satan. Satan would never work against himself. Everything Satan does is in harmony with his purpose and his goal to destroy the soul of man and thwart the purpose of Almighty God in the kingdom of God. And so, it was erroneous, to even think that Satan would be working against himself.
But sometimes God’s people do that and I think Jesus was right when he said that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the sons of light. Sometimes the people of the world use more wisdom and practical commonsense than the children of light in their generation. But, we know there is religious division in the world and we need to do something about it. It will not go away unless we fight against it. It is not enough to preach and to pray for religious unity, but we have got to fight against the religious division that is in the world. There are over 300 religious denominations today. They preach different doctrines, they wear different religious names, and they worship in many diverse manners. And who is willing to stand up and say that all these religious divisions are pleasing to Almighty God? Who is willing to rise up and affirm that all these denominations equal the New Testament church? They are not. There is no way that anybody on the face of God’s green earth can prove that they are. And I will stand behind that statement. So there is the problem of religious division.
In Acts 20:28-31 Paul met with the Ephesian elders and said,
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31 KJV).
And so there was the danger of religious division even in the church of Christ at Ephesus. And shortly thereafter Paul had to instruct young Timothy to stop by Ephesus and shut up the mouths of the gainsayers. False teachers had already crept into the church and were tearing the churches apart when Paul wrote his letters to young Timothy. So there is religious division in the world today and we must recognize it, we must analyze it, find out what its causes are, and then look in the Bible for the solutions that God has given.
Why is their religious division? In the first place, we have religious division because mankind loves the doctrines of men more than they do the doctrine of Christ. In Matthew 15: 9, Jesus had to meet head on the Pharisees who were teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and Jesus said that their worship was vain. A little later they were offended in what he said and the disciples tried to get him to soften what he had said to them and he said, “Leave them alone.” “If the blind lead the blind,” he said, “they’ll both fall in the ditch.” So it is true today that men still love the doctrines and the philosophies and theologies of men more than they do the word of God.
But my Bible says that the solution to that is that we must abide in the doctrine of Christ. The apostle John in one of his short letters said,
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11NKJV).
When we give greeting to, when we lend endorsement to, when we condone, when we tolerate anybody who would create religious division or promote division in the body of Christ, then we have fellowship with these people and we are partakers with them of their evil deeds. And since they do not have God, those who go along with them do not have God. That is, they are out of fellowship with God. So if we expect to be in fellowship with God and his people, we must be out of fellowship with all who promote religious division by going beyond the doctrine of Christ. So that is the problem of religious division and the answer to that is the word of God versus the dogmas of man.
PLEA FOR RELIGIOUS UNITY
We have talked about prayer for unity. We have mentioned the fact that we must practice unity. We have also mentioned the problem of religious division. Now I want to point out that we have got to make a plea for religious unity.
Paul poured out his heart and prayed for the New Testament church at Corinth to be united. His words were very strong:
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. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 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.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13 NKJV).
The word plead is a strong word. It means, almost in our language, “I beg of you.” Paul was down on his knees—so to speak, begging those brethren to be united in the name of Jesus Christ. His rhetorical questions were, “is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” Of course, the answer is within the question. No, they were not baptized into Paul’s name; therefore, they cannot wear Paul’s name. No, Paul did not die for them upon a cross in order that their sins should be forgiven; and, therefore, they should not wear Paul’s name. No, Christ is not to be divided up into little pieces. So the answer is “No, Christ is not divided.”
Someone said one time, “I had rather be the soldier that took the spear and pierced the side of Jesus on the cross, than the person who would divide the spiritual body of Christ—the church!” When the soldiers who crucified Christ drove the nails through his hands and pierced his side, there came forth water and blood. But what about those who open up the side of the spiritual body of Christ? The precious blood of Christ is running through the veins of the spiritual body of Christ? Of course, I am using that figuratively. The blood of Christ is still flowing from Calvary. And those who would openly tear apart the spiritual body of Christ, I believe, are as guilty as the man who cast the spear into his side. Therefore, Paul was pleading for these brethren to overcome their dissensions, contentions, and be united even in their judgments and in their mind.
So that shows us how much God wants us to be united together and working together, so that our plea will always be the same plea that Paul made. Therefore, let us stand united; fulfilling the purpose of the work that Christ gave us here on the earth.
PLATFORM FOR UNITY
But in the next place, I want to give you a platform for unity. You know, about this time of the year, every four years, the political conventions, regardless of how much division they have had, all close ranks, join hands, and present a solid front, a united front when the election rolls around. Again, the children of this world manifest more wisdom than the children of light in their generations. If this is true in the worldly and political realm, how much more should it be true in the spiritual and religious world? God’s people ought to overcome their differences and join ranks, close in, and stand united against the enemy. That is the only way we can win the great battle for the minds of man.
So in Ephesians 4 we have Paul’s platform for unity! It is not a political platform; it is a spiritual platform:
Ephesians 4:3-6 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. NKJV
Unity of Organization
First, there is unity of organization. Paul said there is one body. What is this one body? Our answer is found in the same book of Ephesians:
Ephesians 1:22-23 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. KJV
Here the apostle is talking about the power that God worked when he raised the Christ from the dead and seated him at his own right hand, far above all principality and power. And then he said that the one body is the church. Christ is the head of the church—the body. Any true religious unity must be based upon the fact that there is just one body or one church recognized by Christ.
Now, in view of the fact that there is one body and the body is the church, therefore there is just one church. And how can people say today that “one church is as good as another” or “join the church of your choice” or “it doesn’t make any difference what church you are a member of—because we all are going to heaven”? I cannot reconcile that with the statement—the emphatic statement of the apostle Paul. The divine platform for unity is that every person that obeys the gospel is a member of the one church and the one body. In all of my reading of the New Testament I have never read of more than one church or one body. When Paul said that there is one body or one church he was talking about the unity of organization.
Unity of Spirit
Paul said there is one body and one Spirit. So in the second place, there is unity of Spirit. Your body has a spirit and when your spirit leaves your body, your body is dead. The Holy Spirit dwells in the spiritual body—the church. To the Corinthian church Paul wrote about those who were destroying the church under the figure of the temple. And he said that those who destroy the temple of God—God will destroy them:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. NKJV
Now, if God’s Spirit dwells in his temple which is the church, or if you look at it from the figure of a body or a human organism to which the church is compared, the Holy Spirit in the church is like our spirit in our body. Now, some people have quenched the Spirit by quenching the word until they have got a church without the Spirit in it. A church without the Holy Spirit, he is a dead church. The Holy Spirit operates in the spiritual body of Christ through the word of God, which is his instrument. And this is how there can be unity of Spirit.
Unity of Hope
The apostle says that there is one body and one Spirit even as we are called in one hope of our calling. Next we look at the unity of aspiration or hope. Hope stands for the Christian faith and the Christian system. In other words, there is one hope that stands above all of our hopes and that stands for the Christian system. What is that hope? To Titus, Paul explained what is that one hope of our calling:
Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; KJV
What is the hope that is above all hopes? It is the hope of eternal life. And so the fact that all of us have within our breasts that aspiration, that desire, that expectation, that longing for eternal life, it should draw us together in the spirit of our lives together in the service of God. Unity of aspiration! One body, one spirit, one hope! Unity of organization! Unity of spirit! Unity of aspiration!
Unity of Authority
But there are four more planks in this divine platform of unity. There is one body and one Spirit even as we are called in the one hope of our calling. There is also one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Therefore, we look at the unity of authority.
The word “Lord” comes from a word which means ruler, King, lawmaker. So Christ is our Lord. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. And that means that he is our Monarch. In order to have true unity, every member of the body of Christ must submit to the authority of the King. Sometimes the spirit of a labor union creeps into the church of our Lord. That spirit is this: if I don’t get my way I will give an ultimatum and then strike against the leaders of the church. That spirit is wrong and sinful. That is not the spirit that should characterize the body of Christ.
We live in a democratic society. But strictly speaking, America is not a democracy—we are a republic. A democracy is where the majority rules, but a republic is where the people are governed not by the majority, but by elected representatives. So in America we do not have a democracy strictly speaking. Only do we have a democracy in the sense that the majority elects the representatives of the republic. That is the basic difference between a republic and a democracy. The church is not governed by majority rule. Some have the idea that whatever the majority wants, the majority ought to have. But the majority is not always right. The majority wanted to crucify Jesus Christ. Throughout Old Testament history many times the majority wanted to do the wrong thing, and that is the reason Moses said, “You shall not follow a multitude to do the evil.” Christ is the head of the church and he also reigns as Monarch over his kingdom. He is the supreme ruler and head over this organism called the church. And there will only be unity when one submits to his ultimate authority.
Unity of Teaching
There is one faith. One faith means that there must be unity of teaching. I have no authority to expound my opinions or to give you my judgments. But I am authorized to preach the gospel. I am also authorized to contend for the faith that has been once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). And that means that we must contend for the unity of teaching or doctrine. The one faith comprehends and incorporates everything that has been legislated in this divine creed book—the New Testament.
Unity of Salvation
There is one baptism. I read in the New Testament of several baptisms. I read about the baptism of suffering. This is a metaphor. Jesus said to some apostles, “Are you able to be baptized with the baptism with which I shall be baptized? Are you able to drink the cup that I shall drink?” Of course, he was figuratively saying, “are you able to be overwhelmed in the suffering that I am going to endure?” Baptism as used here is in the tropical or figurative sense. I read in the Bible where John’s baptism is mentioned. John did preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). I also read in my Bible of Holy Spirit baptism (Mark 1: 6-8). We also read that some were baptized for the dead (1 Corinthians 15: 29). But most of time when we read about baptism it is a reference to water baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 8:36-38; Acts 10:47-48). Now, out of the five or six baptisms, about which we read in the New Testament, which one was Paul talking about when he said, “There is one baptism?” When Paul wrote the book of the Ephesians he said, “There is one baptism.” What was the one baptism?
Obviously, Paul was talking about the unity of salvation in the church. He was talking about water baptism, because it is by one Spirit that we were all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). Therefore the one baptism is the baptism of the great commission where Jesus gave instructions to the apostles to preach the message of salvation to the whole world:
Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” NKJV
Therefore, water baptism is the one baptism by which we enter into this one body, where we find the one hope, and where we recognize and submit to the one Lord, and where we follow and obey and learn the one faith. And so, they all go together, just like a glove on the fingers of the hand. You can’t take one away without destroying the others.
Unity of Worship
Finally, Paul says that there is “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” This is unity of worship. Paul did not say that God is one person, but that there is one God and Father. The word God is here used specifically rather than comprehensively. The word God is used here to designate the first person of the godhead which is the Father. And he even explains it to us in that way: “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6). There must be unity in worship. Who are we to worship? We worship God. And those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4: 24). + *
*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon Sunday evening, August 1, 1976, at Indianapolis, Indiana. At that time I was 39 years old. I still believe what I proclaimed then. And now I am 83 years old. God is good!
Shelby G. Floyd Heartland Church of Christ 1693 West Main Street Greenwood, Indiana 46142
The Lord’s Supper is a very important part of Christian worship, but teaching regarding it has been generally neglected. Therefore, in many places the church is falling into many errors regarding the proper observance of this wonderful memorial to our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul had to deal with the perversions of the Lord’s Supper in the church at Corinth, and therefore, his teaching to them is the same teaching which the church needs today to properly observe the Lord’s Supper. When God’s people come together in a solemn assembly it should be to worship the Lord, and to learn his will, and to be drawn closer to God. But this is not always the case, and many times when people come together, it is not for the better, but for the worse.
When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he could not praise them concerning the Lord’s Supper, because when they came together, it was not for the better, but for the worse:
“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
The phrase, “coming together” refers to their solemn assemblies on the first day of each week to worship the God of heaven in spirit and in truth. However, what they were doing in these assemblies was for the worse, and not for the better
It is sad that people can come together and not be made any better for their having come together, but are actually made worse. We should do some serious and sober thinking, lest our coming together will make us worse instead of better. The phrase, “come together” is used five times in our context concerning the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11: 17, 18, 20, 33, 34). If one will take the time to examine these occurrences of the phrase, “come together,” one will notice several reasons why the Corinthian’s were coming together, not for the better, but for the worse.
Let us come together, not for the worse, but for the better.
A statement in the book of James suggests our topic under consideration:
James 1:9-11 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. NKJV
The first chapter of James deals with the various kinds of trials that Christians will go through. You may wonder what the words of our text are doing in the midst of that chapter about trials. You will see the reason as we develop this lesson about the rich man and the poor man. Continue reading “POOR MAN–RICH MAN”→
With so much news recently about sexual misbehavior in politics, business, news corporations and regular homes, it is timely that we share what the creator has to say about honoring your marriage bed. Both the Jewish and Christian writings in the Bible are replete with high principles of marriage fidelity. Continue reading “HONOR YOUR MARRIAGE”→