As the Apostle Paul closed his epistle to the church in Colossae he gave instructions for sharing it (Colossians 4:16). After the church in Colossae read the letter they were to give it to the church in Laodicea so that they might also read it. Paul then told the church in Colossae to read the letter written to the Laodiceans. That is, letters from inspired writers were to be shared. The result was a reliable transmission of God’s word.
Consider the security of this process. If each church made copies of letters it received from an inspired writer then shared them with other churches, there is no way any entity could supervise the process, edit a letter, or substitute a counterfeit. Individual congregations were doing the sharing.
This refutes the Roman Catholic claim that, "It is only by the divine authority of the Catholic Church that Christians know that the scripture is the word of God, and what books certainly belong to the Bible." (The Question Box, p. 46). The Roman Catholic church would not exist for centuries after this and could not have been part of this process. Understanding this reliable transmission of the scriptures helps us esteem God’s word highly and trust that it is from Him.
Let me explain what we mean by the new, old church. The building under construction, when finished, will be the newest building in the Haymarket area. That's the "new" part. By "old" I mean that we are the church you read about in the Bible. Jesus told Peter He would build His church on the rock of Jesus being the son of God (Matthew 16:18). We are that church.
Now lots of congregations and denominations claim to be Jesus' church. But here's a quick test to see if we can live up to that claim.
- Is your church name in the Bible? I don't mean the city name. Certainly we don't find "Piedmont" or "Haymarket" in the Bible. But we do find the name "church of Christ" (Romans 16:16).
- Do you worship the way they did in New Testament times? When we look to the scriptures we see that in worship on the Lord's Day they sang and prayed (1 Corinthians 14:15), they partook of the Lord's Supper and had a lesson (Acts 20:7). They also contributed to work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). If your congregation is omitting any of these acts of worship, or adding others, by whose authority are such additions or deletions made?
- Is your congregation organized the way they were in New Testament times? Is your congregation comprised of overseers, deacons, and saints (Philippians 1:1)?
We pass this test. And we are careful in all areas to do what is authorized in the New Testament. If you agree that's how a church should operate please come and join us for Sunday worship. You'll feel right at home in our new, old church.
Christ’s resurrection is central to the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul discusses resurrection in detail. In verses 1-4 Paul gives the essence of the gospel: Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. In verses 5-11 Paul lists all those who saw the risen Christ. It’s an impressive and long list. In verses 12-19 Paul explores how lost Christians would be without resurrection. We would be completely lost without it.
In verses 20-28 Paul affirms that Jesus is, in fact, risen from the dead as the firstfruits of the dead. “Firstfruit” is an idea straight from the Mosaic Law’s sacrificial system. The first grain harvested was passed before the Lord by the priest. By dedicating the first fruit the rest of the harvest is dedicated to the Lord, also. So Christ’s resurrection implies more resurrections will follow. He is first. We are next.
In verses 29-34 Paul explains how the resurrection explains much of a Christian’s actions. Why are we baptized? Because of the resurrection. Why stand in jeopardy? Why fight? The resurrection. In verses 35-41 Paul explains how the resurrection will happen. He uses the figure of sowing and reaping to explain how we will morph into a new body.
In verses 42-49 Paul continues that analogy and explains the new body is incorruptible. In verses 50-54 Paul explains how we will all be changed from mortal to immortal in the resurrection. And, finally, in verses 55-58 Paul extolls the victory we have in Jesus and urges all Christians to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.
Marvelous consequences of the resurrection.
Whenever you wonder how much God loves you, look to the cross. The passage below (this week’s memory work) summarizes how much loves us. And the answer you know. He loved us enough to send his firstborn. His only begotten. That which is most precious to Him. God the Father loves us that much. A good way to visualize that love is to hold your hands straight out to the side, reach as far as you can left and right, and then imagine those hands nailed to a cross. God loves us that much.
The passage below is one of the most famous. Often you’ll see someone in a crowd at a sporting event with JOHN 3:16 on a sign waving it whenever the television cameras pan their way. Many think this passage is a fitting summary of the gospel.
The passage also tells us why God loved us so much. He sent his son that we might have eternal life. That we might live forever with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and all the sainted dead. Can you imagine eternal life? It’s hard for us in this realm so dominated by time to envision the timeless. Jesus described heaven as the place where there are no moths or rust to corrupt and where no thieves break through to steal. In Revelation it is described as the place of no more tears or sorrow: a place of beautiful and precious things where there is no night. Can you imagine such a place?
Thanks to God we can do more that imagine it. We can see it one day. He loves us that much.
Our weekly bulletin is entitled Words of Life. A digital copy is available in the members' area of the web site under "shared files." We have the ability to post bulletins each week if that would help any one. Please let us know what you think.