Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                           July 3, 2011                           NO. 26

 The Origins Of Churches

     The study of genealogy is examining the lineage of a given family. Through records of days past families are able to discover their roots and their pedigree. Ultimately all men are traced back to Adam and Eve who were the first man and woman created by Jehovah. Countries also share in a genealogy as our nation was found over 200 years ago. Some nations that exist today did not exist ten years ago. China is one of the oldest continual nations surviving for thousands of years. But even China had a beginning or a time when it did not exist. The study of origins is simply the story of where something came from. In the world of those who profess Christianity, how many know the genealogy of the church they belong to?
     Christianity began nearly 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ commanded the disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). He gave them further instructions (Luke 24:44-52) to go to Jerusalem and “tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Luke records this fulfillment in Acts 2. It is here we read about the beginning of the assembly of the saved under the law of Christ. “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
     The church of the Lord is mentioned throughout the writings of Acts and the epistles concluding with the great Revelation given to John. There were churches in many, many cities in the empire of Rome. The church that you can read about in the New Testament has been around since the First Century – almost 2,000 years. The Holy Spirit warned of an apostasy in 1 Timothy 4; 2 Thessalonians 2; 2 Timothy 4 and 2 Peter 2. The fulfillment of this prophecy came to fruition in the apostasy of the Catholic Church. There was a change in church organization, government, worship and practice. Whether Orthodox or Roman the apostasy has remained in full force since the sixth century.
     From the fruits of apostasy came the Reformation Movement. Churches were established by those who rejected the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and through efforts of reform organized new churches. Martin Luther was instrumental in creating the first protestant church in 1522 which became the Lutheran Church (1530). Other churches would follow: Presbyterian (1536); Episcopal (1609); Baptist (1611); Methodist (1739); Mormon (1830); Seventh-Day Adventist (1846); Salvation Army (1865); Jehovah Witness (1874); Nazarene (1895); Holiness Church (1907). Every church that describes itself as Protestant is less than 500 years old. Their origins span geography from Germany, England, Switzerland and the United States. It might be noted that before 1500 one could not be a member of any of these churches – they did not exist.
     The study of church genealogy should help us to examine our faith in light of the New Testament pattern, organization, worship and even the name we bear. Peter wrote, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). What that suggests is we need to find what we believe in the Bible and now where else. Our faith must rest upon the two-thousand year old pattern – not 500 years old or less.

---Kent Heaton
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"You Have Heard"
     In the great sermon our Lord delivered on the mountain, He addressed the issue of what was being heard from men. Six times in the fifth chapter of Matthew Jesus said, "Ye have heard," then He sets forth the truth as He says, "but I say unto you."
     There are statements we are hearing today from religious people that need to be corrected. It is the Truth that will make us free, not the things we are so often hearing (Jn. 8:32). Herein we thus call attention to some of the things we hear today that need to be corrected. Listen to Jesus as He corrects the modern talk.
You Have Heard: -- "Everybody ought to be keeping the Ten Commandments."
But The Bible Says: -- Jesus came to "fulfill" the law, (Matt. 5:17). Jesus "took it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Col. 2:14). We have a covenant that is "better" (Heb. 8:6). So we are now under "the law of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21).
You Have Heard: -- "Man is justified by faith only."
But The Bible Says: -- Justification is by faith -- Rom. 3:24; by grace -- 1 Cor. 6:11; by the blood of Christ -- Rom. 5:9; and by works -- Jas. 2:24; justification is thus by our obedience -- Rom. 2:8.
You Have Heard: -- "There are good people in all denominations." We don't deny this. The issue is who is saved and what it is we must do to be saved and where the Lord puts the saved.
But The Bible Says: -- Jesus saves those who obey Him. (Heb. 5:8,9; Matt. 7:21). Those who refuse to believe and obey are not saved. The saved are added by the Lord Himself to His body, the church, not to a denomination started and maintained by men. Read Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:13.
You Have Heard: -- "I want to be saved like the thief on the cross. Jesus didn't tell him to be baptized."
But The Bible Says: -- "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). If Jesus is the Savior, why do we want to tell Him how to save us? But, do you really want to be saved like the thief on the cross? Would you want to be a thief? Do you want to be crucified? Do you want to turn the clock of time back and live before the time of Christ's death? Why not desire to be saved like the people of Acts 2:36-38; 22:16!
You Have Heard: -- "Baptism doesn't save."
But The Bible Says: -- "Repent, and be baptized...for the remission of sins,..." Acts 2:38; "...even baptism doth now save us" 1 Pet. 3;21; "He
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved
" Mk. 16:16.
You Have Heard: -- "God is too good to send anyone to hell."
But The Bible Says: -- God spared not angels and spared not the ancient world (2 Pet;. 2:4,5). Jesus said, "...except ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (Jn. 8:24). "...except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish" (Lk. 13:3). Does it not sound like hell to you? See Psa. 9:17.
You Have Heard: -- "It makes no difference what you believe just as long as you are honest and sincere."
But The Bible Says: -- "Except ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins..." (Jn. 8:24). Now, who says it makes no difference what we believe? "He that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16).
You Have Heard: -- "It makes no matter what church you are a member of for one church is as good as another."
But The Bible Says: -- Jesus purchased (bought) the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). He is the Head of the church (Col. 1:18). It is His body (Eph. 1:22). How many bodies does Christ have? The saved are added by the Lord to His body, His church (Acts 2:47).
---Leo B. Plyler
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