30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

July 23, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"The New Testament Church"

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 a message of God. Once again I want to encourage you to get your Bible, pen, and piece of paper out and be ready to write the scriptures down and turn to them as the truth of God's word is presented this morning. How many times has it been that you have heard something discussed in matters of religion and wished that you had a pencil handy to write down that passage of scripture or that particular thought? I want to give you a chance right now to get your pencil and paper ready so that you can be prepared to write these verses down so that you can do some serious study at a later date. Jesus said: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Many false teachers are out there trying to deceive innocent people into believing a lie. I want to make sure that I am only presenting the truth of God's Word and I want you to test my words to make sure that I am not putting forth a doctrine that is false but rather is true. My wife used to work at a bank as a teller and one of the first things that she was taught was how to tell what a real dollar bill looked like. Once she knew what the real dollar bill looked like, then she knew that anything else that did not look like the real thing, was a counterfeit. So it is with religion. All we need to do is learn what the truth is, and then we will know that any other doctrine put forth is not the truth. I want to encourage you this day to learn the truth. Jesus said plainly in John 8:32: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." 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).

Last week we talked about Christ and the importance of His blood bought church. Now, let us emphasize one important fact, the church for which Christ died, the church that man can read about in the Bible, the church that we are studying this morning is purely a New Testament organization. This is necessary because man today has lost sight of the all important principle of rightly dividing the word of God. Man can not find the beginning of the blood-bought church of Christ in the Old Testament, man can not find her existence there, and needless to say, man can not and should not expect to find her doctrine or pattern of worship there.

The church that God recognizes today had her beginning in the New Testament. It is here that her history is found and especially here that her doctrine is taught. In prophesy and in prophesy only, is the church mentioned in the Old Testament scriptures. Paul wrote to young Timothy, his son in the gospel, on this subject as found in 2 Timothy 2: 15, "study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." There are, therefore, my friends very definite divisions of the word of God. If we are to be workmen unashamed we will have to handle aright, or rightly divide the covenants or dispensations of God Almighty. The modern evangelist turns to the Book of Exodus and reads as though Moses' law now possesses equal authority with the sermon on the mount. This must be denied. The Ten Commandments are not binding on man today. The covenant that God gave on Mount Sinai is no longer in existence. Listen to the scriptures as found in Hebrews 1:1-2, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds." Here Paul declares that God has not only changed his manner of speaking, but his spokesman. No longer does he speak through the prophets, but through his Son. Jesus Christ is now the spokesman of God and not Moses.

Man would need no more powerful sermon than that taught to Peter, James, and John by Christ himself on the Mount of Transfiguration. Matthew records it for generations yet unborn in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew. After Moses and Elijah had appeared and talked with Christ about his passion, Peter, always quick to speak, made this statement, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (Matt 17:4). There the clear voice of God settled the issue for time to come, "While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Matt 17:5). No longer is Moses to be heard; no longer is Elijah in authority, but now all men everywhere are to hear Christ.

It is small wonder then when the time came for Christ to give the great commission in Matthew 28, verses 18 and 19, we find this record, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "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." or in Ephesians 1:22 where Paul declares, "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."

The very term "New Testament" implies the making of other scriptures old. The word "New Testament" is used in the Bible in the same sense as the term "New Covenant" and hence the New Testament and New Covenant mean fundamentally one and the same thing. The Old Testament scriptures prophesied their own end. Paul in Hebrews chapter 8, verses 8-10, quotes from the thirty-first chapter of Jeremiah, "Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--"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 did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." The entire Book of Hebrews is devoted to just this cause; to show that God has changed His covenant and that the new and not the old, is now in force. The conclusion is that we are now under a better covenant founded on better promises. The purpose of the old law is stated by Paul in Galatians 3:23-25,"But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." When Christ came, therefore, the law which is the tutor, had served its purpose and was no longer in authority. If man could recognize this simple fact, much of the confusion and misunderstanding over the teaching of the Bible would disappear as the mist before the morning sun. God does not contradict himself. Man needs .to find the covenant that applies to him and to exclaim with the men of old, "Speak, Lord, thy servant heareth."

Furthermore, the end of the law is clearly stated by Paul in Colossians 2:14 when he said, "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." The previous covenants of God died, as it were, with Christ on the cross. No man alive today, therefore, has the authority in matters of faith and practice other than that taught by Christ and His apostles. Man has no authority to bind Old Testament covenants on the church, or answer the question, "What must I do to be saved?"from the law, or the prophets, or the psalms. The universal church of Christ should have no creed other than the New Testament and recognize no authority in matters of faith and practice other than that taught by Christ and His Apostles. The oldest argument against man-made creeds is just as good today as it was years ago. If a religious creed is any longer than the word of God, it is too long; if it is any shorter, it is too short; if it differs with the Holy Scriptures, it is grievously in error; and if it is exactly the same as the word of God, it is wholly unnecessary. Man needs to respect the authority of Christ in all matters concerning the church.

Not only is the faith and practices of the church of God found in the New Testament, but the beginning of the church as well. Just as the New Testament is the only creed of the church, it is also her only inspired history. In the beginning of our race God made one perfect pair physically, mentally, and spiritually; for God made them in his own image, and when they were made he looked upon them and said they were "very good." But in the process of time our first parents fell from their high estate, and ever since then it has been the aim of every right minded man to struggle back to the innocence and purity of Eden. In like manner, when the fullness of time had come, God made a perfect church, or one as near perfect as could be made out of fallen human beings. The church also fell; and ever since it has been the aim of all who have rightly understood the revelation which God has given us, to get back to the characteristics of the Jerusalem church. The time has been when few could or would deny this all-important principle.

We need to reemphasize it time and time again. I present to you this thought; men will never find the correct answer to the confusion of organized religion, or achieve the unity that all know to be so desired, until they are willing to turn their faces away from their own creeds and go back to the Bible and there find the model church and strive to restore her, in organization, faith, and practice. The divine pattern there awaits them in the pages of the New Testament of God's truth. In Matthew the sixteenth chapter Peter answered the important question of Jesus "Who do men say that I the Son of man am?" by declaring that "Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God."Jesus then answered and said, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:17-18). Here Christ declared that the church is to built in the future. It is not already in existence, future time is used. Incidentally, let us notice the nineteenth verse. Here we find the words "church" and "kingdom" used in speaking of the same thing--the body of Christ. Peter uses the keys of the kingdom to open the doors of the church in the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles. If, therefore, the church and kingdom are not one and the same thing, Peter was guilty of a misdemeanor in that he took the keys of one institution to open the doors of another - the church. Christ could have 'transposed the words and just as correctly said, "Upon this rock I will build my kingdom, and unto thee will I give the keys of the Church." In determining the establishment or beginning, the writers always speak of the church as in the future. Mark declares in Mark 1:14-15, "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Again in Mark 9:1 it is recorded, "And He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power." Notice here the fact that the kingdom was to come with power and keep this thought in mind for just a moment. Matt. 16: 18 says, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." In Mark 15:43 he says, "Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus."

Now, starting with the last verse of Revelation and studying the use of the words "church" and "kingdom," it will be found that they are always spoken of as existent or established--past tense. Notice in Revelation 2:3 John writes to the seven churches in Asia Minor. In Revelation 1:9, John is in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. Let us pause here to observe that to the many who believe the kingdom is yet future, the apostle John was in the kingdom when he penned Revelation over 1800 years ago. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, "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." In Acts chapter 13 the church at Antioch sends out missionaries. In Acts the 8th chapter, there is a great persecution of the church in Jerusalem. In Acts chapter 5, as the result of the death of Ananias and Sapphira, great fear comes upon an the church and in Acts the second chapter, verse 47, the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Where these two lines meet, the church must have its beginning. The church of the Bible did not start around conference tables in Philadelphia or in the councils of ancient Europe, but upon the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem when Peter used the keys of the kingdom to preach the gospel and say,"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ."

The disciples asked Christ just before his ascension, as told in the first chapter of Acts and in the sixth verse, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" His answer to them was,"It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." The conclusion was that the kingdom was to come with power--they were to have power when the Holy Spirit came upon them; and when the Holy Spirit was to come upon them they were to bare witness and preach the gospel. This is exactly what happened in Acts 2 on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Listen to what is said, "Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4). The power came, the Holy Spirit descended, the apostles preached, the multitude cried out, and three thousand were baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of their sins. Then the Lord added them to the church. How simple a study, how correct a conclusion, how powerful a beginning.

The Old Testament prophets had spoken time and time again upon the beginning of the church. In Joel chapter 2, verses 28-29, Joel had declared that it should be that God would pour out his spirit on all flesh. In Isaiah chapter 2 and verse 3, Isaiah declared that the church of the Bible would have its beginning in the city of Jerusalem. In Daniel 2, verse 44, Daniel had spoken out in determining the time for the establishment of the church as in the days of the kings of the fourth empire of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Joel two told us how--when God poured out his spirit. Isaiah 2 told us where--in the city of Jerusalem. And Daniel 2 told us when in the days of the kings of the iron empire. Hence Daniel 2, Joel 2, and Isaiah 2, are fulfilled in Acts 2 when the blood-bought church of Christ made its beginning upon this earth. God poured out his spirit, in Jerusalem, in the days of the Roman kings.

Men today deny that baptism is connected with forgiveness of sin, but notice here that three thousand of the devout men of the ancient Jews, "devout men from every nation," students of the law of the psalms and of the prophets, willingly and eagerly were baptized for the remission of their sins, or that their sins might be remitted, The same gospel that made Christians then will make Christians now. And that long awaited answer of Peter to the all-important question of,"What must I do to be saved?" is your answer. Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and God will add you to the church for which Christ died, just as he added the three thousand that day; that you may be a member of the church of Christ, the household of God.

In conclusion then, should it not be the purpose of all men to cry out against organizations which have an admitted beginning later than the day of Pentecost? Should it not be the purpose of all men to cry out against organizations that do not recognize and accept the New Testament as her only creed? May we all strive earnestly to follow the commandments of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. After all, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).

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?"