30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

July 16, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford


Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking you for tuning in this morning to WAVG radio to listen to another truth of God's word. Before we get to our lesson of the hour entitled"Christ," I want to let you know about our Vacation Bible School that begins tomorrow, July 17th, at the Clarksville church of Christ, This year's Bible School will run through the 21st and will begin at 7:30 P.M. each night. For those of you that are planning on attending this year's Vacation Bible School, but have not yet enrolled your children, you need to do so by tomorrow. This year's theme for the children's classes will be "How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts?" The adult class will be having a study on the "divided kingdom" which will be taught by Gary Fisher from New Salisbury, Indiana. You can enroll your children in one of two ways. If you have access to the Internet you can enroll your children on-line at www.ClarksvillechurchofChrist.org and follow the directions to register your children. Or you may call 246-1332 and someone will be available to take your enrollment information. We look forward to seeing you and your children at VBS this year! Now at this time I want to encourage you to get your Bible, pen, and paper handy so that you can take notes on today's lesson. I want to encourage you to be the kind of person that wants to search the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact the truth of God's word (Acts 17;11). It is only the truth of God's word that can make us free (John 8:32). Every sincere, religious person will want to learn the truth in order to make sure that his call and election is sure (2 Pet 1:10). Again, thank you for listening to this morning's broadcast and now let's study together the lesson of the hour simply entitled "Christ."

It is indeed fitting that as we introduce this radio program to men and women, we introduce and meditate for a moment upon Him who made all such programs possible and who died for us, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. For without Jesus Christ, we would have no hope of an eternal life. May we always keep Jesus in our thoughts, thinking of Him and thanking Him for His great sacrifice on our behalf.

Thomas W. Phillips has said: "The greatest minds of the world are engaged in discussing the life of Christ. He lives in the finest written prose of the best writers for 2000 years. The purest ideas of those who deny His teaching is borrowed or taken from this humble man of Galilee. There was nothing which was good or pure or holy that He did not teach, and standing midway in earth's history, His character is the only perfect one known to man."

He is counterpart of the realm and commands the respect of all of the thinking men of past and present time. Nearly two thousand years have passed since His death; and the world has been advancing toward His life and has not yet reached its perfection. If two thousand more years roll away, man will no doubt, look up to Him with increasing admiration. The mission of His life was love as He came to seek and to save those who are lost. While He was poor and alone, He traveled on foot without place to rest his head, and yet promised rest to the weary, saying, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30). His name is relied on in death. He brought immortality to life. All was dark and still in the tomb and had been so for ages. No voice of comfort had ever been issued from the grave. His was the first heard from its deepest gloom. Since He died on Calvary, the night of death has showed like the noon day sun in a world more beautiful than earth has ever known, and is seen through its glory-crowned shadows. In every region under heaven where His name is spoken the wail of a mourner is less sad, and hope is breathed for the dying and the dead. His influence is deepening and widening. His cause is winning new fame and glory. The story of Jesus was first new when told in Jerusalem on Pentecost and will be just as new in the Saturday evening of time. With infinite paths man will call forth tears until man shall cease to weep and the graves give back their dead, and death is swallowed up in victory. Jesus revolutionized the empire of death in three days for with mangled feet he trod the wine press of sorrow alone, and with pierced hands he unbarred the gates of death and conquered him who had so long held his wide dominion. With the prints of nails in His hands and with the mark of the spear in His side, He arose from the grave more mighty than Sampson when he carried away the gates of Gaza. With the broken figures of death beneath his feet, living in the greatness of his time, mighty to save, He proclaimed liberty to a captive world, saying, "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death" (Rev 1:18). All of these things can be said of Christ, the Savior of mankind. Thousands of hours are spent each year singing His praises and in thousands of sermons His work is praised--in all this the Christian can rejoice and yet there is a note of sadness when we realize that this same Savior who came to earth, to suffer and bleed and die upon the cross, gave his blood for an institution that men know little of today, the church of the Living God.

In the 20th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles and in the 28th verse, Paul declared that Christ gave His own blood for the Church. Speaking at Miletus near the end of his third missionary journey to elders of the church of Ephesus, his words are, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). In the 16th chapter of Matthew, Christ had declared on the coast of Caesarea Phillippi, concerning the establishment of the Church, that not even the gates of Hell or Hades should prevail against it. He said: "...on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

We need, therefore, in the light of its cost and in the light of the determined power exercised by Christ in placing this great institution among men to re-examine the ground upon which we stand, to see if we know and understand those things that the Bible plainly declares concerning the blood-bought, heaven-sent, spirit-filled, church of Christ. The entire book of Ephesians is one great essay upon the subject of the church. In the book of Ephesians, Paul, the Apostle and master preacher, sets forth what you and I should know concerning this, the greatest of all institutions. The plain and emphatic Thus sayeth the Lord can be found in the epistle from the pen of Paul, the Apostle, relative to the church. This is all that any sincere Bible student should require. Paul had worked with the Ephesian brethren and his work with them built up not only a sincere concern, but a devotion for them and their future. Hence Paul says in Ephesians 1: 19-23, "and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Here we see that the greatness of God's power was not made known unto man until He raised Christ from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places. There are those among us who believe that God's message to man has always been the same throughout the centuries, but Paul declared here that the greatness of God's power had to wait for those great events and when they were concluded, then His power could be made known unto man.

Paul, the same writer, in Romans 1:16 declared, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Hence the Gospel could not be made known unto man until Christ was both dead, buried, and resurrected and received unto Heaven. The name that Christ is to wear, Paul declared is above every name, not only in this world but in the world to come. All these events precede the putting of all things under Him and making Him head over all things to the church. Hence, since Paul is correct, Christ is the head of the church of the New Testament. Verse 23 tells us, "the church, which is His body" and that it is the fullness of Him who fills all in all. If the church is the fulness of Christ, it follows as does the night the day that all Christians are in the church. If there are Christians who are not in the Body which is the church, then the church could not be the fulness of Christ. Here in the study of the church, Paul declares all of these mighty events precede the final position of Christ as head over all things to the church. The importance, therefore and the value of the church must be compatible with the all important events of His death and resurrection. Therefore, if they are important, the church is important. The second chapter of Ephesians, further emphasized the importance of the church of the Lord. Paul declares " Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22). The word "fellow citizens" denotes the citizenship that the Christian is to hold and have as a member of the Kingdom of God. The household of God is the church and hence, if we are to be fellow citizens with the Saints, we must be in the Household of God. He further declared that the church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets and that Jesus Christ himself is the Chief Cornerstone.

New Testament Apostles and Prophets intrusted and delegated by God and Christ to both prepare and give arrangement to the church, are those that made possible the salvation of man, by revealing to man the Divine will, thus permitting him to become a member of the household of God. In Ephesians 3:10 the far reaching purpose of God is expressed concerning the church when Paul declares, "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places." The church therefore, is the agency through which God's wisdom is made known. As the wisdom of God is all important, it must follow that the agency through which it is declared unto man is all important also. All who believe that the church is a mere accident or afterthought with God, or that it is simply a prelude to a more glorious earthly institution or kingdom should read the 11th verse of Ephesians 3,"according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Here the zealous Paul declares that it was God's eternal purpose to make known by the church and through the church those things which Christ was to have for man.

We pause to reflect upon the fact that the church is the most precious institution that could ever exist because for it the greatest price was paid, (Acts 20:28). The divine treasure of Heaven, the blood of Christ was shed, and every drop used to buy the purchased possession --- the church. From a standpoint of planning, the church is the most priceless institution that will exist upon the earth, for the Master Planner of all, God, placed it in his eternal purpose. From the standpoint of Mission, the church is intrusted with the greatest work that this world can ever know -- that of preaching the Gospel to a lost and dying world. The church is priceless, because of its future and destiny; for when the Son delivers up the kingdom to the Father, the church will be the ransomed of earth in that land that is fairer than day. The question may arise therefore with some, that if the church is so highly valued in the Bible, and if the New Testament speaks out time and time again upon its importance, why do men today misunderstand and speculate and de-emphasize the church? The main problem is that most do not search the scriptures to find out the truths and value of our Lord's teaching. That is why I encourage you to search your scriptures to make sure that what I am saying is accurate and that you will know how one is to conduct their life in service to God. The church of our Lord is a great institution given by God. But it will only be as strong and valuable as man treats it based upon the knowledge of God's Word, the Bible.

It should be understood by all that the church that man can read about in the New Testament and for which the Son of God died, is not a human denomination. Its name is found in the Bible, Romans 16: 16 says, "Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you." It's organization is simple and clear as it is spelled out in 1 Timothy, chapter 3 and in Titus chapter 1. Its doctrine is that of the apostles, and its only head and Founder, Jesus Christ. Its only reason for existence, the work of God, the Bible is its only Creed and Heaven its only destiny. Our plea is for the union of all believers in God, upon the Bible and the Bible alone, to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent.

God has given us a seven point unity program in the fourth chapter of Ephesians that can not be improved upon. Man will have unity if this program is fully accepted. Paul writes, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph 4:1-6). Let us consider seriously this teaching:

Step No. 1 ----- There is One God: "One God the Father of All, who is above all, through all and in you all." This point serves as the first step toward Christian unity. The God who in the beginning made the heaven and the earth should be accepted and believed in by all of His creation. To believe that there is one God carries with it more than mere mental assent, it means that we must be governed by His requirements and ever obedient to His commands. So let us all recognize the one and true God, the God of heaven, our creator.

Step No. 2 ----- There is One Lord: A very solemn declaration is this statement; One Lord. The heathen worships many Gods and has many Lords to whom he turns in time of trouble. The Christian has but one Savior, the only begotten of the Father. In Matthew the first chapter and the 21st verse the words of the prophet ring in our ears concerning Mary and Christ, "She shall bring forth a son and thou shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins." John writes: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1,14).

Step No. 3 ----- There is One Body: Clearly and emphatically Paul states that there is but one body. Hear the scripture on the one body--THE CHURCH "There is one Body," Eph. 4: 4. "You are called in one body," Col. 3:15. "There shall be one fold," John 10:16. "Reconciled both unto God in one body," Eph. 2: 16. And finally with, "But now indeed there are many members, yet one body" (1 Cor 12:20). With statements as plain as these it would seem that all right thinking people would joyfully accept this truth for their own souls as well as for the sake of Christian Unity. Yes, even for the sake of Christ.

Step No.4 ----- There is One Faith: What a solemn declaration is this "One faith" found here in Eph. 4:5. Paul preached the faith in Galatians 1:23 and then in 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, we listen as says that He preached the gospel, "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." Therefore the faith is the gospel. Jude 3 says, "...contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Hence, to have unity, all religious people must unite on gospel teaching. Creeds of men, ideas of men, and wisdom of men, must be forsaken. Upon these we can never unite.

Step No. 5 ----- There is One Baptism: To have unity, the thought of modes of Baptism must be discarded forever. Paul declares there is one baptism (Col. 2: 12). Man is baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27). and in so doing he puts on Christ. Thus the writer could consistently say by "one spirit you are all baptized into one body." We say at times that men are known by the company they keep and it is true with principles as well. Just as one God is essential, just as one Lord is an absolute prerequisite to Christian Unity, the one baptism of Eph. 4 is essential also. If it was not, then why was it recorded for us?

Step No. 6 ----- There is One Spirit: Time will not permit a detailed discussion on the one Spirit at this time. However I believe it is sufficient to say that just as there is One God, and One Lord, there is but One Spirit, The Holy Spirit is not a mysterious element, or is He an infinite substance. But He is the third person of the Godhead, masculine in Gender, and One with the Father. "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one," (1 John 5: 7).

Step No. 7 ----- There is One Hope: How sweet it is to think of the one hope, both sure and steadfast. It serves as the anchor to the soul and permits man to roll back in part the curtain of the unknown and catch a glimpse by faith of the -great beyond. I look forward to heaven and I hope that you do to. But in order to have our hope of heaven realized, we must practice and obey the teaching of Jesus in our life.

In the midst of the confusion of all the conflicting voices of denominationalism, one thing is clear, Christ did build a church. He did give a law. The place to find the true Church is in the true law, the New Testament.

That is where its history is recorded. The place to find the law of Christ is in the New Testament That is where it is revealed. Any man can, and every man should go to the New Testament, learn and obey the law, and God will add him to the church that He built, just as He did when the vast throng 'cried out "What must we do?'' in Acts 2:38. He gave the answer for you and for me,"Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins."Have you done that? If not, then you do not have a hope of reaching heaven. May we all strive to put into practice all the teachings of Jesus as told to us in the pages of the New Testament. May God bless each and everyone of you this morning as you strive to seek and learn the truth of God's word.

This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"