Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          August 4, 2013                                                                                                                            NO. 26



When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the church at Ephesus, he stated: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Obviously, he refers to the blessing, but he also stresses that the blessings are to be found in Christ, and only in Him.

Perhaps I should begin by defining the process of entry into Christ where the blessings are realized. The New Testament plainly tells how to get into Christ. Note Gal. 3:26,27: "For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." In another passage, Paul wrote: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?" (Rom. 6:3). The message is too plain to be misunderstood.  When the sinner, acting on his faith in Christ, is baptized according to the teaching of the Gospel, that forgiven sinner is said to be "in Christ."

If one needs to get into Christ, where all spiritual blessings are, he should let someone know his need. Otherwise, he will not have the great blessings we now are discussing in this study. These are spiritual blessings which will enrich one's life here on earth, and they are necessary if one is to go to Heaven after this life is over.

Forgiveness: -- No one has a need greater than forgiveness of one's sins. We are lost and under condemnation until we receive the forgiveness of our past sins, by the Lord. Significantly, the New Testament addresses this need of man at the very beginning of the preaching of the Gospel. On Pentecost, note what sinners were told to do to have their sins forgiven: "Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). The remission of sins and the forgiveness of sins are one and the same thing. Also, not that the very action -- baptism -- which puts one into Christ also provides forgiveness of sins.

One must realize what a blessing forgiveness is. God does not owe us forgiveness. We certainly have done nothing to place God in debt to us. Forgiveness is an act of His grace, love, and mercy; essentials for our fallen  souls. When sinners realize their sins have been forgiven, they can rest in peace! Their troubled, tormented souls realize a calmness that they could no otherwise have.

Peace: -- How do we measure the blessing of peace? However we try, we cannot find the words to adequately express the value of peace.  Consider how the apostle Paul spoke of peace: "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7). To live life and calmly rest at night  realizing that we are at peace with God is something that  passes human understanding. Why would God bless us so, especially after we have committed so many sins against Him? Our "hearts and minds" are kept in safety and assurance when we are at peace with God.

I should note, just here, that there is another factor to consider.  Another verse says: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4). We should search our hearts to determine if we are at peace with God,or if we are one of His enemies!

Joy: -- Joy is another of those blessings which we find hard to define and describe. There is no joy if we are in a state of condemnation before God. If we present ourselves to Him still guilty of unforgiven sin, He has told us He will confine us to the punishment of Hell.  Again, note Paul's statement respecting this sad fact: "...In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that  obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (2 Thes. 1:8,9). We should act decisively to prevent this fate befalling us. We are delivered from the curse of Hell when we obey the Gospel and are forgiven.

When we know we have done what  God has instructed us to do for forgiveness, our hearts rejoice! Paul said: "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). Please note that rejoicing is found in the Lord where Eph. 1:3 says we receive spiritual blessings like joy and happiness.

Hope: -- Scores of people die every day with absolutely no hope of going to Heaven! These have lived in rebellion to God, proudly parading their iniquity before God and men. They have not been saved. In fact, most have no interest in salvation at all. These die without hope!

On the other hand, the person in Christ has hope. Paul said to Titus, he was "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1;2). Paul was well aware of his sins in the past. He was also aware that  he had obeyed the Gospel and had been forgiven. He knew he was not going to Hell. He lived "in hope of eternal life," of  going to Heaven when he died. You and I can share that blessing with Paul, if we are in Christ, and living in His commands. The proper choice is obvious, is it not?

---Lewis Willis

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J.F. Rutherford, one of the founders of the Jehovah Witness faith, taught people to dismiss the belief of eternal punishment. He wrote, “For a long time men have been taught that the punishment for the wicked, those who disobey God, is everlasting torment or torture in a hell burning with unquenchable fire and brimstone…It is another doctrine of Satan, used to blind the people” (The Harp of God, p. 47). He instead taught that all souls are unconscious at death and the only ones brought back to life are the ones who believe in Jesus (p. 45). All unbelievers will have “everlasting death, with no hope of a resurrection” (p. 51). Oh, that this were so!

I’m like you in that I don’t like to think about the possibility of suffering for an eternity apart from God. Who would enjoy such a thought? However, that does not change the reality of what Jesus taught. He said we’re alert after death, both the saved and the lost (Luke 16:22-25). He persuaded men with eternal life (John 6:40, 54; 10:28) as well as warned of eternal damnation (Matt. 25:45-46; Mark 9:42-48). To accept Jesus’ teachings on heaven without accepting His teachings on hell is dishonest. If one is true based on His word, the other must be equally true. The Lord said, “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). In whose words will we entrust our eternal soul: Rutherford or Jesus? Who has proven He is qualified to speak on eternity (2 Tim. 1:10) and man’s eternal soul (Acts 17:30-31)?

Life is nothing more than a test with eternal consequences. Will we live for the world and its lusts, and suffer eternally for it (Rom. 2:5-11; Gal. 5:19-21)? Or will we be wise and choose life and faith in God, and live forever (Mark 8:35-38; John 3:15)? If the dead could return, they would beg us to love and obey God, and to be saved from sin through faith in Jesus—“And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). To obey Jesus for salvation we must have faith (Acts 18:8), repent of sin (Acts 2:38), confess faith in Him (Rom. 10:9-10), and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins (1 Pet. 3:21). From one eternal soul to another, let us be wise and choose to walk by faith in Christ.                                                             

---Mike Thomas

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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