Posted by Chris on August 12, 2015 under Articles, Bulletin Articles, Front Page Posts, Resources
West-Ark Church of Christ
Elders’ Covenant of Conduct
- Shepherding and Spiritual Leadership
- The primary responsibility of the West-Ark elders is the spiritual shepherding of the flock.
- We are dedicated to the ministry of the word and prayer. (Acts 6; Hebrews 13:7; Titus 1:7)
- We are committed to being shepherds, mentors, and equippers (1 Pet. 5:1-7; Titus 2:11-15; Eph. 4:11-13)
- Our priority is to the spiritual health of the church family. This includes, but is not limited to: 1) consoling those in suffering, 2) teaching the faith, 3) promoting unity and facilitating reconciliation, 4) equipping the saints for ministry.
- To help all members grow as disciples we encourage the congregation as a whole to:
- Daily focus on Jesus and the cross.
- Nurture spiritual growth in order to transform all into God’s holiness.
- Increase in love and godly behavior.
- Recognize our spiritual gifts and use them to glorify God.
- Proclaim a biblical worldview that is obedient to Christ.
- In order to concentrate on shepherding, the elders will use task groups and staff (deacons, ministers, specially qualified members) to do all that is possible involving administration, church management, and leadership of specific ministries.
- With all assigned tasks goes the authority needed to accomplish the responsibility.
- We will work to establish trust in the assigned groups to make good decisions.
- Working Together as an Eldership
- We consider that every elder, regardless of how long he may have served, is of equal status as a shepherd of this church. There are no junior or senior elders.
- From the first day one serves as an elder, he has full co-responsibility with the other elders for the oversight of this church.
- We believe each elder is under the spiritual care and oversight of the other elders.
- When making a decision as a group we follow these principles:
- Everyone’s viewpoint will be heard.
- At least one more than half of the elders currently serving are required to be present in order to have a quorum for making decisions for the group.
- A majority vote of those present is considered to have approved or disapproved a motion.
- Anyone not present at a meeting is considered to have voted with the majority on any motion.
- A chairman is selected by rotation from among the administrative group of elders and serves a three month term.
- All elders agree to support the decision of the group as if the vote had been unanimous.
- We will not talk to anyone outside the meeting about how individuals voted on any issue.
- We will not communicate with others in any manner so as to represent our personal point of view as being that of the West-Ark elders. Exceptions are:
- When directed by the elders to communicate a message on their behalf.
- When repeating a decision of the elders which has previously been made public.
- Should a matter be decided by the group that an individual elder, for conscience’s sake, cannot support, he has three alternatives:
- He can ask for the matter to be reconsidered, providing him with more time to make his point clearer.
- He can request assistance from the elders via prayer, study, coaching, or even counseling in order to manage his own anxiety appropriately.
- He can resign from his role as an elder if the above does not remedy the situation and the majority decision is sustained.
- At all times confidentiality must be respected.
- This means there will be many things considered by the elders (and often ministers included) which are not to be discussed with others, including: our wives, family members, or closest friends.
III. Communication, Conflict, and Reconciliation
- We pledge to listen to any member who wishes to express his or her opinions about the life and ministry of the congregation.
- We encourage open dialogue among members, and in matters of conflict or disagreement we hold to the principles taught by Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20
- We will always encourage members to share their opinions directly with other elders, ministers, deacons, ministry leaders and other members. This is especially the case when the opinion/concern involves another elder, minister, deacon, ministry leader, or member.
- When members of the congregation express an opinion to an elder, the elder shall ask, “What would you like me to do with this information?”
- If the member desires to have a meeting with the elders, the time and date will arranged through the chairman of the elders for the month.
- If the member does not wish to appear in person, the elder shall ask the member for permission to use their name in reporting. If permission is not given, the elder shall say, “I’m sorry but I will not be able to repeat this to the eldership since we do not deal with anonymous letters or comments.”
- If permission is given, the elder shall report the information / opinion to the eldership and use the member’s name.
- Opinions may be shared in writing with the elders and shall be handled in the manner mentioned above only if the letter or statement is signed.
- Anonymous letters will not be read or discussed.
Posted by Chris on April 1, 2014 under Articles, Bulletin Articles, Events, Front Page Announcements, News
After worship we will dismiss to discussion groups. We will have lunch together and discuss the topics below. Here’s how it works:
1. You will choose which topics interest you.
2. There will be three 30-minute discussion sessions at approximately 12:00, 12:30, and 1:00 PM.
3. Each topic below will be the focus for a group in two locations [listed below]. Each of the six topics will take place at the same time in the two locations. Each will be open for all three sessions.
4. Thus, you should plan on participating in three conversations that interest you the most and going to one of the two rooms listed for that topic during the three 30-minute sessions.
Creating a Seat at the Table [Room 106 & Room 215]
West-Ark has an established core of members who have been a part of the church family for 16 years or more. West-Ark is also blessed with active members who have been here for less than 16 years. What are the strengths and challenges that come with such a remarkable statistic? How can we open opportunities for new members to participate in mission and ministry? How can we be intentional about creating a “seat at the table” for everyone?
Friendship and Membership [Room 212 & Library]
We strive to be a church that is more than just members who attend a weekly meeting. We believe that Christ has called us to be His friends and friends with one another. How can we increase friendships within the West-Ark Church family? How can we create bridges to our friends who are not part of the West-Ark church? How can we cultivate the spirit of friendship?
A Cord of Three Strands: Finding Spiritual Support [Annex & Room 210]
A majority of members expressed an interest in forming support groups and fellowship groups. We want to be creative about forming opportunities to build up one another. How can we promote resources that will help individuals and families manage stress and grow spiritually? What has helped you and what have you experienced?
Communities within the Church: Mentoring and Groups [Room 225 & Annex Conference Room]
Over the years, West-Ark has developed multiple approaches to small group fellowship. At this moment in time, what are the best opportunities and approaches for study groups, fellowship groups, and encouragement groups? In addition to groups, mentoring is a time-honored and biblical means for spiritual growth and making disciples. How can we help people find mentors and how can we motivate more members to be mentors?
One Spirit, Many Gifts [Room 203 & Room 222]
West-Ark is blessed with a healthy participation rate that is above the expected norm. Our vision is greater than simply having enough volunteers to handle the work. We want all members to use the spiritual gifts that God has invested in them. How can we assist our membership in discovering their spiritual gifts? How can we empower people to use their gifts?
Keeping the Conversations and Communication Open [Room 100 & Room 211]
Communication is a vital component of our congregation. We strive to use a variety of methods and technologies to communicate. Whether it is an “old-school” method or a “cutting edge” technology, our primary goal is communication and conversation. We welcome your help. What talents do you have that will help us communicate more effectively? What creative ideas do you have to share? How would you be willing to assist in promoting opportunities for communication? Would you have an interest in helping people learn about new technologies and methods?
Posted by Chris on July 7, 2012 under Articles, Resources
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27)
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
Seed of a Woman
Prophecy: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
Fulfillment: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. (Galatians 4:4)
Descendant of Abraham
Prophecy: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
Fulfillment: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, (Matthew 1:1)
Descendant of Isaac
Prophecy: Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
Fulfillment: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers, (Matthew 1:2)
Descendant of Jacob
Prophecy: “I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but He is not near. When a King shall arise from the house of Jacob, and the Messiah be anointed from the house of Israel; He shall slay the princes of Moab, and rule over all the children of men.” (Numbers 24:17)
Fulfillment: the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, (Luke 3:34)
From the Tribe of Judah
Prophecy: The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:10.)
Fulfillment: the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, (Luke 3:33)
Heir to the Throne of David
Prophecy: Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7)
Fulfillment: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” (Luke 1:32)
Prophecy: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions. (Psalms 45:6-7)
Fulfillment: “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)
Prophecy: Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. (Psalms 102:25-27)
Fulfillment: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” (Hebrews 1:10-12)
Time of His Birth
Prophecy: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.” (Daniel 9:25)
Fulfillment: And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. (Luke 2:1-3)
To Be Born of a Virgin
Prophecy: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Fulfillment: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18)
Born in Bethlehem
Prophecy: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
Fulfillment: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem. (Matthew 2:1)
Prophecy: Thus says the LORD: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
Fulfillment: Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16)
Prophecy: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” (Hosea 11:1)
Fulfillment: When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Matthew 2:14-15)
His Way Prepared
Prophecy: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)
Fulfillment: “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
Preceded by a Herald
Prophecy: “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
Fulfillment: “This is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:27-28)
Preceded by Elijah
Prophecy: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. (Malachi 4:5)
Fulfillment: “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” (Matthew 11:13-14)
The Son of God
Prophecy: “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” (Psalms 2:7)
Fulfillment: 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!” (Matthew 17:5)
Ministry in Galilee
Prophecy: Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. (Isaiah 9:1-2)
Fulfillment: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
Speaking in Parables
Prophecy: I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old. (Psalms 78:2)
Fulfillment: All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them. (Matthew 13:34)
Prophecy: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)
Fulfillment: “and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. ‘And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'” (Acts 3:20-23)
Healer of the Brokenhearted
Prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” (Isaiah 61:1)
Fulfillment: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;” (Luke 4:18)
Rejected by Men
Prophecy: He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)
Fulfillment: He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. (John 1:11)
Prophecy: The LORD has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalms 110:4)
Fulfillment: So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:5-6)
Prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
Fulfillment: They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the Prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:7-11)
Adored by Children
Prophecy: Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. (Psalms 8:2)
Fulfillment: But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant. (Matthew 21:15)
Prophecy: Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? (Isaiah 53:1)
Fulfillment: But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him. (John 12:37)
Betrayed by Friend
Prophecy: Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. (Psalms 41:9)
Fulfillment: And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48)
Betrayed for 30 Silver Coins
Prophecy: Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12)
Fulfillment: Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:14-15)
Prophecy: Fierce witnesses rise up; they ask me things that I do not know. (Psalms 35:11)
Fulfillment: Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.'” (Mark 14:57-58)
Silent Before Accusers
Prophecy: He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
Fulfillment: Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. Mark 15:4-5)
Spat Upon and Struck
Prophecy: I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6)
Fulfillment: Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands. (Matthew 26:67)
Hated Without a Cause
Prophecy: Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; Nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause. (Psalms 35:19)
Fulfillment: “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.” (John 15:24)
Sacrifice for Others
Prophecy: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Fulfillment: For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
Death by Crucifixion
Prophecy: “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)
Fulfillment: Jesus Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
Executed with Sinners
Prophecy: Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
Fulfillment: With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” (Mark 15:27-28)
Hands and Feet Pierced
Prophecy: For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet. (Psalms 22:16)
Fulfillment: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39)
Sneered and Mocked
Prophecy: All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” (Psalms 22:7-8)
Fulfillment: Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (Matthew 27:41-43)
Prophecy: Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. (Psalms 69:9)
Fulfillment: For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” (Romans 15:3)
Prayed for His Enemies
Prophecy: In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer. (Psalms 109:4)
Fulfillment: Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (Luke 23:34)
Gambling for Clothes
Prophecy: They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. (Psalms 22:18)
Fulfillment: Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” (Matthew 27:35)
Forsaken by God
Prophecy: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? (Psalms 22:1)
Fulfillment: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
No Broken Bones
Prophecy: He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. (Psalms 34:20)
Fulfillment: But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. (John 19:33)
His Side Pierced
Prophecy: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)
Fulfillment: But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. (John 19:34)
Buried with Rich
Prophecy: And they made His grave with the wicked; but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. (Isaiah 53:9)
Fulfillment: Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. (Matthew 27:57-60)
Resurrected from Death
Prophecy: For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psalms 16:10)
Fulfillment: “Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead.” (Acts 13:29-30)
Prophecy: Surely even now my witness is in heaven, and my evidence is on high. My friends scorn me; my eyes pour out tears to God. Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor! (Job 16:19-21)
Fulfillment: My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
Ascended to God
Prophecy: You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, even from the rebellious, that the LORD God might dwell there. (Psalms 68:18)
Fulfillment: So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)
Posted by Chris on under Articles, Resources
- in Genesis: The Seed of The Woman
- in Exodus: The Passover Lamb
- in Leviticus: The High Priest
- in Numbers: The Cloud and The Fire
- in Deuteronomy: The Prophet Like Moses
- in Joshua: The Captain of Our Salvation
- in Judges: The Judge And Lawgiver
- in Ruth: The Kinsman Redeemer
- in 1 & 2 Samuel: The Prophet of The Lord
- in 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles: The Reigning King
- in Ezra: The Faithful Scribe
- in Nehemiah: The Rebuilder of The Broken Down Walls
- in Esther: Mordecai
- in Job: The Dayspring From on High
- in Psalms: The Lord Who Is Our Shepherd
- in Proverbs & Ecclesiastes: Wisdom
- in The Song of Solomon: The Lover & Bridegroom
- in Isaiah: The Prince of Peace
- in Jeremiah & Lamentations: The Weeping Prophet
- in Ezekiel: The Wheel Turning
- in Daniel: The 4th Man in The Fiery Furnace
- in Hosea: The Bridegroom Married to The Backslidden Woman
- in Joel: Baptized With The Holy Spirit And Fire
- in Amos: The Burden Bearer
- in Obadiah: The Mighty Savior
- in Jonah: The Forgiving God
- in Micah: The Messenger With Beautiful Feet
- in Nahum: The Avenger of God’s Elect
- in Habakkuk: The Great Evangelist, Crying For Revival
- in Zephaniah: The Restorer of God’s Lost Heritage
- in Haggai: The Cleansing Fountain
- in Zechariah: The Merciful Father
- in Malachi: The Son of Righteousness, Rising with Healing in His Wings
- in Matthew: The Messiah
- in Mark: The Wonder Worker
- in Luke: The Son of Man
- in John: The Son of God
- in Acts: The Ascended Lord
- in Romans: The Justifier
- in 1 & 2 Corinthians: The Gifts of The Spirit
- in Galatians: The One Who Sets Us Free
- in Ephesians: The Christ of Riches
- in Philippians: The God Who Meets Our Every Need
- in Colossians: The Fullness of The Godhead
- in 1 & 2 Thessalonians: The Soon Coming King
- in 1 & 2 Timothy: The Mediator Between God And Man
- in Titus: The Faithful Pastor
- in Philemon: The Friend That Sticks Closer Than a Brother
- in Hebrews: The Blood That Washes Away My Sins
- in James: The Great Physician
- in 1 & 2 Peter: The Chief Shepherd
- in 1 & 2 & 3 John: Everlasting Love
- in Jude: The Lord Who Came Down with 10,000 Saints
- in Revelation: The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!
Posted by West-Ark on April 12, 2012 under Articles, Bulletin Articles, Bulletins, Front Page Posts
A Story From the Hope Chest
By Sharon Faries
Have you ever had a stranger share their joy with you? Or two strangers? When the Hope Chest reopened last Tuesday, April 3 after being closed for two weeks, that is what happened. Quite often we get excited when a man will find a suit, shirt, and tie and tell us that he has just found his new Sunday clothes; or a lady finds a new Sunday church dress, but this day was different.
Two ladies were standing in line waiting to be checked out. They could hardly wait to get to the head of the line to tell us their story of joy. They told us that they were now best friends because of God and the Hope Chest. We wondered, “How does the Hope Chest get credit for that?” They shared that they were strangers to one another last fall when they happened to visit the Hope Chest at the same hour one day. They met there and they left realizing that they had found a new best friend. The ladies spoke of sharing fun and hardships with one another over the following days. They mentioned that they often prayed for one another and would frequently pray over the phone for one another. We were overjoyed as these new best friends stood there smiling and hugging each other and saying thank you to us for providing more than new clothing and shoes. They were given a friendship full of God’s joy.
I shared with them a saying that we say to one another almost every Sunday morning: “God is good … all the time; and all the time … God is good.” These ladies loved that and they walked out repeating the words.
I wonder what these ladies are doing today? My guess is that they are sharing their blessings from God and praying with one another for us.
Posted by Michael on January 1, 2010 under Articles
A “denomination” signifies a division or a segment.
“Denominationalism” means devotion to denominational principles or interests.
All the religious denominations of our day were established by men, hundreds of years after Jesus Christ established His church in Jerusalem on Pentecost, about 33 A.D. (Acts 2).
We claim that the modern-day “church of Christ” is NOT a denomination.
Please consider with us why this claim is made.
DENOMINATIONALISM IS WRONG
Christ established but ONE church (Matt. 16:18, Acts 20:28, Col. 1:24, Eph. 4:4).
Christ is not divided. The apostle Paul said that religious division is wrong (I Cor. 1:10-13).
Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers (John 17:20-21). Our Lord did not work against His own prayer for unity by establishing conflicting and contradictory denominations.
Denominationalism retards the salvation of lost souls (John 17:21). Denominationalism breeds skepticism and doubt. Different doctrines cause many to lose respect for the Scriptures.
IN APOSTOLIC TIMES CHRISTIANS BELONGED TO NO DENOMINATION
Christians were members of the universal church for which Christ died.
When one accepts Christ, there is no need to accept anything else (Col. 2:9-10). When you accept Christ only, you become a “Christian,” a disciple of Christ. Others in any place who do the same thing will be, like us, Christians only.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE UNDENOMINATIONAL CHURCH
1. It has no denominational founder.
“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,” said Jesus (Matt. 16:18).
2. It has no denominational head.
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).
Christ is the Sovereign Head of the church.
The undenominational church does not recognize any human head or headquarters.
3. It has no denominational creed.
We have no creed but Christ. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” is our confession of faith (Matt. 16:16, Acts 8:37).
We have no book of discipline or rule of faith. We practice only the Scriptures. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16).
God’s Word is sufficient to cover every problem of congregational organization and activity.
THEREFORE, HUMAN CREEDS ARE UNNECESSARY.
“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (II Peter 1:3).
4. It has no denominational name.
The church of the New Testament was known as:
"The church" (Eph. 3:10, Col. 1:24)
"The church of God" (I Cor. 1:2, I Tim. 3:15)
"The body of Christ" (I Cor. 12:27, Eph. 4:12)
"The church of the Lord" (Acts 20:28)
"The church of Christ" (Matt. 16:18, Rom. 16:16)
The individual members of the church were known as:
"Disciples" (Acts 11:26)
"Christians" (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, I Pet. 4:16)
"Saints" (Rom. 1:7, Phil. 1:1, Col. 1:2)
"Brethren" (Col. 1:2, James 1:2)
"Children of God" (Gal. 3:26, I John 3:1)
"Priests" (I Pet. 2:5, Rev. 1:6)
5. It has no denominational organization.
There is no ecclesiastical organization, no popes, no cardinals, no archbishops, no church councils or conventions.
Each congregation of the Church of Christ is independent, under the authority of Christ as revealed in the New Testament. We have a plurality of qualified elders (Acts 14:23), just as was found in the first century church.
6. It has no denominational worship.
We have no denominational rites or ceremonies. We seek to worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24), following the pattern of the first century church.
Each Lord’s day worship consists of:
Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7)
Contribution (I Cor. 16:2)
A cappella Singing (Eph. 5:19)
Praying (Luke 18:1)
Preaching (II Tim. 4:2)
7. It has no denominational requirements for membership.
We ask people to do only what men and women in the New Testament were commanded to do:
Hear and understand God's Word (Acts 8:30-31)
Believe (Acts 8:37)
Repent (Acts 17:30)
Confess (Acts 8:37)
Be baptized for remission of sins (Acts 2:38)
After obeying the gospel, TO WHAT DENOMINATION DID THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS BELONG?
Catholicism had its beginning in the 7th century.
Protestantism had its beginning in the 16th century.
New Testament Christians belonged simply to the undenominational church.
THE CURE FOR DENOMINATIONALISM
We must have an unreserved commitment to the Bible as the sole, objective standard in religion. Unity can exist only when there is allegiance to a single objective religious authority. When all men will lay down their creeds, disciplines, manuals, confessions of faith, catechisms, think-so’s, maybe’s, and subjective feelings, and with an unprejudiced and receptive heart turn to the Word of God, then, and ONLY then, will unity result. We must be committed to being nothing, calling ourselves nothing, obeying nothing, and saying nothing except that which is authorized by the Word of God.
Surely, it is possible to occupy an undenominational position. It is our plea for all to abandon the things that divide those who profess to be Christians, and occupy, with us, this undenominational ground.
If we preach ONLY the gospel, it will produce in our day the one, true New Testament church that it produced in the days of the apostles, when no denominations existed.
“YOUR CHURCH AND MINE“
|As I read the Sunday paper, I ran across this line,
“Today you go to your church, and I will go to mine.”
I’ve read the Bible over and over and never found that line:
“Today you go to your church, and I will go to mine.”
“Upon this rock, I’ll build MY Church,” The Savior said one day.
And before the dear Lord died, He humbly knelt to pray:
“May they be one, as we are one, those who believe on me.
So the world may surely know I am loved, and sent by Thee.”
Yes, you may go to “Your” church, but let me tell you this
Your worship will be void and vain unless you go to HIS!
God rewards those who obey Him.
Could Abel offer the sacrifice of his choice?
Could Noah use the wood of his choice?
Could Moses build a tabernacle of his choice?
Can we be saved by the blood of our choice?
Can we believe the gospel of our choice?
Can we attend the church of our choice?
Posted by Michael on under Articles
“You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.“ — Matthew 4:10
The following text does not constitute any kind of an authority or creed for settling questions or disputes.
Rather, look to the Bible and allow God to speak the final word. To worship anything or anyone besides the one God, our Father in Heaven, would obviously be wrong.
Please consider these two important questions:
- Is it possible to offer sincere, but unacceptable, worship to God?
- What does the Bible tell us about how to worship?
Early in the Bible we learn that men worshipped God with sacrifice. Cain brought an offering for which God had no regard or respect (Gen. 4:5). King Saul unlawfully offered a sacrifice in I Samuel 13. Later, he was told that “to obey is better than sacrifice” (I Sam. 15:22). God had given instructions about how He was to be worshipped. He was pleased only with those people who did “all” that was commanded (Josh. 1:7, I Kings 11:38, Jer. 7:23).
Jesus talked about how God did not accept the prayers of the Pharisees (Matt. 6:5, Luke 18:10-14).
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The opposite of true worship is vain worship. Any worship not ordained by God is vain worship because it originates with man.
“And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).
Our only assurance of practicing acceptable Christian worship is to disregard man-made creeds and turn to God’s Word as our only authoritative guide to worship. The early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). If we pattern our worship after the instructions given to the first century church, we can be confident that God will approve of our worship in the twenty-first century.
Men under the Law of Moses were to worship God on the Sabbath, Saturday (Ex. 20:8). In the New Testament we find that the church assembled on the first day of the week, Sunday, to worship God (Acts 20:7, I Cor. 16:2).
Christians have been instructed not to neglect assembling together because this is also an important time for fellowship and encouragement (Heb. 10:25).
In regards to the worship service, the apostle Paul said, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40).
After Christ established His church, the Bible contains no record of anyone being told to pray until after they obeyed the gospel and became Christians. Prayer is a privilege for those in the church, rather than a means of entrance into it.
Prayer is the means by which we communicate with God (Phil. 4:6). God communicates with us through His written Word (Heb. 1:1-2). Prayer is a daily essential in the personal life of every Christian (I Thes. 5:17). Prayer also plays a prominent role in worship assemblies (Acts 12:5, 12).
Christians are instructed to pray for:
- FORGIVENESS for day to day sins which are committed through ignorance, weakness, or negligence (Acts 8:18-24, I John 1:9).
- ADORATION and PRAISE of God (Matt. 6:9).
- THANKSGIVING for all God’s innumerable blessings (Eph. 5:20).
- WISDOM for better understanding (James 1:5).
- OTHERS, including Christians (Eph. 6:18), rulers (I Tim. 2:1-2), and even our enemies (Matt. 5:44).
- DELIVERANCE FROM TEMPTATION. God allows us to be tempted (Matt. 26:41), but He does not tempt us (James 1:13, I Cor. 10:13).
- UNITY of all who believe in God (John 17:20-21).
- PERSONAL NEEDS in our daily living (Matt. 6:11).
When we pray in faith and according to God’s will, He will hear us and will answer our prayers (Matt. 7:7-11, Matt. 21:22, I John 5:14).
Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5). We do not need to pray through any other person, whether saint, prophet, or priest. We pray to our Father in Heaven “in Jesus’ name,” through the One that God has appointed (Heb. 4:14-16, Col. 3:17, John 14:6, 14).
We know that Jesus and the apostles sang hymns (Matt. 26:30, Acts 16:25).
Christians are instructed to sing to one another and to the Lord. We are to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19). No Christian is excused from this command, whether a talented singer or not (Psm. 100:1-2).
Singing serves two purposes:
- Just as we are to praise God in prayer, we are also to praise Him with our singing (Psm. 66:1-2). It is a medium of expressing our cheerfulness to God (James 5:13).
- Our singing is to teach and give friendly earnest encouragement (admonishment) to fellow Christians (Col. 3:16).
A choir cannot serve as substitutes for the command that ALL Christians are to sing. Therefore, a choir serves no purpose, being merely an addition by man to God’s plan for worship. The New Testament has no references to church choirs, since they were not introduced until centuries after the days of the apostles. The music of congregational singing in the first century church was vocal only. “A cappella,” which means singing without instrumental accompaniment, comes from Latin for “at church.” Though we find musical instruments mentioned in the Old Testament, there is not a single New Testament reference to anything but vocal music in worship. Historical sources indicate that instrumental music did not appear in worship until about the sixth century.
Since mechanical instruments of music cannot speak, teach, or admonish (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16), they do not accomplish anything God wishes when we sing in worship. We should not permit the use of instrumental music as a form of worship, because this practice was not found in the early church nor has it been authorized by God. Unless we pattern our worship after the instructions given to the first century church, we can have no assurance that God approves of our worship.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Christians in the first century were commanded to contribute to the church every Sunday (I Cor. 16:2). All things belong to the Lord (Psm. 24:1). As God has prospered us, we are to return a portion of our wealth to Him for the work of the church. (I Cor. 16:1-2). God showed us how to give by the sacrifice of His Son (John 3:16).
While men were to tithe (give 10%) under the Law of Moses, the early Christians were expected to give liberally and sacrificially without any mention of a specific percentage (II Cor. 8:1-5). We are to give willingly and cheerfully (II Cor. 9:7). When we give we will be blessed by God (Luke 6:38). The money collected is to be used wisely to help the needy and to spread the gospel (Acts 2:45, Rom. 10:14-15, I Cor. 9:14).
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on the night before His crucifixion (Matt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:17-20, I Cor. 11:23-26).
The Lord’s Supper is the Christian’s memorial of what it cost God to deliver him from the slavery of sin. As Christians remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross they become conscious of their past need (they were sinners without hope), and their present responsibility (to live a life of purity and devotion to God).
To partake in a worthy manner, each participant is to examine his life in light of the terms of the New Testament (I Cor. 11:27-29). When observed in a worthy manner, the Christian leaves the Lord’s Supper with renewed spiritual strength gained by (1) his reflection on why Jesus had to die and by (2) his renewed determination to live out the terms of the New Covenant.
The Lord’s Supper is made up of two elements — the bread and the cup (I Cor. 11:26).
The unleavened bread is symbolic of Christ’s body (Luke 22:19). The bread is without leaven (yeast), even as Christ is without corruption or sin (Heb. 7:26).
The cup or the “fruit of the vine” is symbolic of Christ’s shed blood (Matt. 26:28). The word “wine” is never used in the Bible to refer to the Lord’s Supper.
Christians in the first century observed the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis (Acts 20:7).
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of the Lord’s death, and is to be observed by every Christian, only on the Lord’s day (every Sunday) — the day Jesus arose from the dead.
Public reading of scripture, preaching, and teaching were part of the worship service in the first century (I Tim. 4:13, Acts 20:7). These things were not limited to Sunday. Preaching was limited to male speakers (I Cor. 14:34).
The only kind of preaching that pleases God is preaching the things He bids us to preach (Jonah 3:2). The apostles and other first century preachers were only concerned with pleasing God, not men (Acts 4:19-20, Gal. 1:10, I Thess. 2:4).
The attitude of preachers today should be patterned from the example of New Testament preachers. They diligently studied the Word of God. (I Tim. 4:13, II Tim. 2:15) They used references from the Bible to support their preaching. (Acts 2:16, 25, 34; Acts 7; Acts 8:35; Acts 18:28). They believed the Scriptures alone were sufficient (II Tim. 3:16-17, I Cor. 4:6). They condemned the creeds and doctrines of men (Gal. 1:6-9, I Tim. 1:6-7, I Tim. 4:1-3, II Tim. 2:16-18, II Tim. 3:5-9, Titus 1:9-11).
The power of their preaching was derived from the Scriptures.
Jesus clearly condemned the use of religious titles (Matt. 23:8-12). One does not earn a high place before God by appropriating an impressive religious title. In God’s sight the greatest person is the most faithful servant, not one who has assumed an elevated position (Matt. 20:25-28).
According to the Bible, pastors (elders, bishops) are to pastor (shepherd) the flock (Acts 20:28). And preachers (evangelists) are to preach (II Tim. 4:1-2). When the evangelist is doing the pastoring, God’s divine plan is being ignored.
Faithful New Testament evangelists preached the gospel in this manner:
1. Fully (Rom. 15:19)
2. Forcefully (Acts 18:28)
3. Simply (II Cor. 11:3)
4. Urgently (I Cor. 9:16)
5. Boldly (Eph. 6:19-20)
6. In Love (Eph. 4:15)
Preachers are to labor in the word, preaching, teaching, exhorting.
Preaching strives for these results:
1. converting the lost to Christ,
2. restoring the wayward Christian,
3. keeping the saved saved.
All that men need to believe, be, know, do, or teach to please God is written in the Bible.
We know that Christians in the early church were pleasing God with their worship. If we worship God as they did, we can be sure that God is pleased. When we add to or take away things from the worship service that God ordained, we must fear that our worship is unacceptable, no matter how sincere.
“Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” — Hebrews 12:28
Posted by Michael on under Articles
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Posted by Michael on under Articles
Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church, and the
gates of hell shall not prevail against it.“ – Matthew 16:18
The church that Jesus built was HIS church. Jesus Christ is Himself its foundation (I Cor. 3:11). He is the Savior of the church (Eph. 5:23). It was purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). He is the Head of the church (Col. 1:18). The church is the bride of Christ (II Cor. 11:2). The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:23). The Bible says there is only one church (or body) (Eph. 4:4).
Since the church belongs to Jesus Christ, the New Testament is our only reliable guide to the church’s organization and the regulations for entering His church. No man-made churches are described or authorized in the Bible (Psm. 127:1).
The New Testament often refers to “the church” in a universal sense, encompassing the entire family of God throughout the world (Mark 16:15). Also, the scriptures frequently refer to “the church” in a local sense (I Cor. 1:2).
The Bible authorizes no organization for the universal church, except Jesus, who is the absolute ruler (Eph. 1:20-23) with absolute authority (Matt. 28:18). The New Testament does present Christ’s plan for the organization of the local church.
The only way to construct the true, original organization that God approves of is to look into the scriptures. Let us examine the organization of the local congregation in the first century.
The church was established in Jerusalem on Pentecost, about 33 A.D. (See Acts 2). After this, the New Testament makes no reference to anyone being saved without being in the church. God automatically adds the saved to the church (Acts 2:47). Entrance into the church (the body of Christ) occurs with baptism (Gal. 3:27, I Cor. 12:13, Acts 2:38-41).
In the first century church, members were simply called “Christians” (Acts 11:26, I Pet. 4:16). They were also referred to as “saints” (Acts 26:10, Rom. 1:7, I Cor. 1:2, Eph. 1:1). Christians were also considered to be “priests” (Rev. 1:6, I Pet. 2:9).
The New Testament is filled with instructions for Christians, including how to act, how to respond to others, and how to serve God (II Tim. 3:16-17, Titus 2:2-8).
Though men and women are equally valuable in God’s eyes, they are to fill different roles in His church. It is by God’s design that women are not permitted to assume positions of church leadership (I Cor. 14:34, I Tim. 2:12).
From among the members are chosen teachers, preachers, deacons, and elders.
All Christians are expected to be able to teach the lost (I Pet. 3:15, Matt. 28:19). All Christians were told to “teach and admonish” one another in the first century (Col. 3:16). Those qualified with considerable knowledge of the Scriptures can teach in a more formal manner. Those who do, have greater responsibility (James 3:1).
God expects teachers to present the Word accurately and fully (II Tim. 2:15, Acts 18:26, Matt. 28:20). The scriptures gravely warn Christians about false teachers (II Cor. 11:13-15, II Tim. 4:3-4, I Tim. 4:1-3, Matt. 24:24).
Men who choose the ministry as an occupation (I Cor. 9:14) are called preachers (Rom. 10:14), ministers (Col. 1:23), and evangelists (Acts 21:8). They have no duty to God different from any other Christian, just greater responsibility to work full time for the Gospel.
The apostle Paul instructed the young evangelist Timothy to “Preach the Word” (II Tim. 4:2, 5). First century preachers were primarily concerned with pleasing God (I Thess. 2:4, Gal. 1:10); therefore they preached the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
A minister is to serve (Matt. 20:26-28). The preacher can be a leader in the church (Phil. 3:17). But no where does the Bible authorize him to be a ruler.
New Testament preachers diligently studied the Word of God, using references from the Bible to support their preaching (Acts 2). They believed the Scriptures alone were sufficient and condemned those who taught otherwise (I Tim. 4).
Faithful New Testament evangelists preached the gospel fully (Rom. 15:19), forcefully (Acts 18:28), simply (II Cor. 11:3), urgently (I Cor. 9:16), boldly (Eph. 6:19-20), and in love (Eph. 4:15).
Their preaching was aimed at converting the lost to Christ, restoring the wayward Christian, and keeping the saved saved.
The word deacon comes from a Greek word meaning “servant.” We find the first deacons being chosen because of a specific need in Acts 6. The needs and circumstances of a given situation in the New Testament church determined when deacons were appointed and how many were required. The deacons had authority only as they were assigned to be over some specific business.
The Bible has clearly instructed early Christians (and us) about the qualifications for men who serve in the office of deacon (Acts 6:3, I Tim. 3:8-13):
- Good reputation
- Full of the Holy Spirit
- Full of wisdom
- Reverent (serious)
- Not double-tongued
- Not addicted to wine
- Not greedy for money
- Hold faith with pure conscience
- Found blameless
- One wife (who is reverent, temperate, faithful, and not a slanderer)
- Manages his own family well
The Bible makes no indication that deacons were permitted to rule in the early church. They were to serve under the oversight of elders (or bishops).
The local congregation in the first century had “bishops and deacons” (Phil. 1:1).
By God’s design “elders” are to rule in the local church (I Tim. 5:17). The office they hold is also referred to as “bishops” (I Tim. 3:1), “overseers” (Acts 20:28), and “shepherds” or “pastors” (I Pet. 5:2, 4; Eph. 4:11).
Each church should be governed and supervised by a plurality of such men, not by one “Bishop” or one “Pastor.” There were “elders” over the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17), and “bishops” over the church in Philippi (Phil. 1:1). Paul instructed Titus to “appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5, Acts 14:23).
As a ruler in the church, an elder is only authorized to maintain those rules already set down in the New Testament (Acts 20:30, Gal. 1:9). He is not to be domineering, but is to lead by his example (I Pet. 5:3).
All Christians have been commanded to submit to the leadership and authority of the elders of their congregation (I Pet. 5:5, Heb. 13:7, 17).
The qualifications of men who may serve as elders can be found in I Tim. 3:1-7:
- Desires the office
- One wife
- Sober-minded (sensible)
- Good behavior (dignified)
- Able to teach
- Not given to wine
- Gentle (not violent)
- Not greedy
- Not quarrelsome
- Rules his own house well
- Submissive and respectful children
- Not a recent convert
- Well thought of by outsiders… and in Titus 1:6-9:
- Believing children who are not unruly
- Steward of God
- Not self-willed (or arrogant)
- Not quick-tempered
- Lover of goodness
- Just (upright)
- Firm hold on God’s word
Elders were instructed to watch over the flock (church) as shepherds (Acts 20:28-32). They are caretakers of souls who are to perform their duties willingly and eagerly (I Pet. 5:2). Without partiality they are to teach, instruct, and direct all of the members in the way of sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).
No man is head of the church on earth, but Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God (Eph. 4:15-16). Christ is the only head of the church, His one body (Col. 1:18). Therefore, every member of the body must be in subjection to Him (I Cor. 12:12-13, Eph. 5:22-32).
This means that in matters of religion we do not have to submit to any man-made authority, but only to the divine authority of Christ as revealed in the New Testament.
Though Christ has equality with God (Phil. 2:6), their roles are different. “The head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11:3).
Jesus said, “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matt. 23:9).
Cast all your anxieties on God, for He cares about you (I Pet. 5:7).
- – CHRIST
- – ELDERS
- – MEMBERS
(including teachers, preachers, and deacons)
is the proper order of authority in the church.
We cannot expect to be rewarded by God unless we live “according to the rules” (II Tim. 2:5) we find in God’s Word. We can conclude that God will not be pleased unless we play by His rules.If we are to reconstruct the church of the first century, we must have an organization with baptized Christians, who are served by teachers, preachers, and deacons. All of these are to be governed by elders who accept Jesus Christ and His Father as the ultimate authority.
Posted by Michael on under Articles
For various reasons, many people today find the story of Noah’s Ark quite difficult to believe. I have always found it quite fascinating myself and searched for the truth for many years. Let’s examine whether this could have actually occurred or if the tale is merely a myth invented many centuries ago. The real issue is: can we trust the words of Genesis chapters 6 through 9?
Before the Great Flood the Bible tells us that mankind’s behavior degenerated to where people’s minds were thinking about “only evil continually” and “the earth was filled with violence.” Our righteous God became sorrowful for having created people who became so wicked. So, God decided to destroy all people, all land animals, and all birds. (Gen. 6:5-7, 11).
Noah was trying to live righteously in this wicked world, so God was merciful to him and his family. (Gen. 6:8-9; 7:1). Noah was given instructions about how he was to build a big boat–450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. (Gen. 6:14-16). I am told that its dimensions were similar to today’s oil tankers, making it practically impossible to overturn even in the worst storm at sea.
God told Noah, “Everything that is on the earth shall die” by a flood. (Gen. 6:17; 7:4). Noah was also told that the Ark would save his family (four married couples) and a male and female pair of every kind of “unclean” animal and 7 each (or 7 pairs) of every “clean” animal. (Gen. 6:18-19). Noah was also instructed to store food in the Ark for his family and for all the animals. (Gen. 6:21).
Noah did “all that God commanded him.” (Gen. 6:22; 7:5).
Seven days before the rain started, God ordered Noah, who was 600 years old, to come into the Ark with his family and all the animals. (Gen. 7:1-4, 6). God sealed them in the Ark. (Gen. 7:16). God caused water to both rise up from below the earth and to fall from the sky for 40 days, until the water was 22 feet deep over the highest mountain. (Gen. 7:11-12, 19-20). Everyone and everything that had lived on dry ground was drowned. Only those in the Ark survived. (Gen. 7:21-23).
After 150 days the water began to subside. The Ark came to rest on a high mountain of Ararat. Three months later the tops of the mountains could be seen. (Gen. 8:3-5). When the surface of the ground was dry enough, the Bible says that God told Noah to go out of the Ark, 365 days after he entered it. (Gen. 8:16).
Later, God made a promise that “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” The rainbow is the sign of His covenant. (Gen. 9:8-17).
From both believers in God and non-believers, there have been many objections to the credibility of the story above. Also, there have been many attempts to concoct different versions of what might have really happened. In other words, many people don’t believe God really meant what He tells us through the writings of Moses in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. I will try to address all of the objections to a Great Flood that I have heard. Please keep in mind that some of my responses are merely my own opinions.
I believe that God said what He meant to say and that He revealed to us things that we can understand. I do not believe God gave us incorrect information in the Bible, especially in passages that seem very easy to understand what He said. The writings of Moses about Noah and the Flood are too simple to misunderstand, in my opinion.
OBJECTIONS TO THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT
- The story is a myth based on other flood fables told by various ethnic groups who populated the Middle East at the time of Moses.
There are many cultures all over the world which have tales of a flood that completely covered the earth and destroyed all but a few people. I argue that the reason that there is so much similarity between the myths and the Genesis account is that this was a real event. All men and women being descendants of Noah, they passed down the story of this major episode in the life of their ancestor. The only truly accurate account is the one which God reveals to us in Genesis through the pen of Moses.
- By the days of Noah there were not enough people on the earth to require a worldwide flood.
I estimate that 12 to 15 generations had been born on the earth by the time of the flood. (Genesis chapter 5 tells us that Noah was the ninth generation from Adam.) Easily, there could have been a billion people alive on the earth by the 600th birthday of Noah.
- The flood was only a local flood and not worldwide.
I see two major problems with the local flood theories. You cannot cover the highest mountains with water for several months if the flood was only regional. (Gen. 7:20). Secondly, and even more significant is the covenant which God made after the Flood. God promised, “Never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Gen. 9:11). If the flood of Noah was merely a local flood, then God would have broken that promise hundreds of times since then. Other problems include that a population as large as one billion would not likely be contained within a single valley that would be amenable to local flooding. Besides, some people and animals could have simply gone to higher ground as happens during local flooding today. Even if the world’s human population was not widely spread, nothing would have kept the birds and all the animals confined within that local flood area. Genesis 7:21-23 says that all creatures outside the Ark who lived on the land were destroyed. I also object to the possibility of a local flood because God could have merely instructed Noah and his family, along with the animals to be saved, to migrate out of the area that would be flooded.
- There is not enough water to cover the entire earth.
There is nothing to convince us that the oceans were as deep or that the mountains were as high prior to the flood. Consider Psalm 104:5-9. “You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever, You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You did establish for them. You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they may not return to cover the earth.” From these verses we might reasonably conclude that God made the mountains higher and the valleys deeper to make adjustments for the greater quantity of water on the earth after the Flood.
- There was not enough extra water to cover the entire planet.
The Bible says, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened,” in Genesis 7:11. This is consistent with saying that volcanoes erupted and that previously stored water high in the atmosphere was released. A great quantity of water is released with a volcanic eruption. If hundreds of volcanoes erupted both above and below the surface of the oceans, then the amount of water spewing forth on the earth is unimaginable to me. Genesis 1:7 tells us that the earth originally had water above the sky. With the greater surface area at a very high altitude in the earth’s atmosphere, the thickness of water, probably in a gaseous state, would not have to be very great to store an incredible quantity of water which God could release upon the earth. This water would have been thin enough to allow adequate sunlight through. Also, the weight of this water would have caused there to be a greater barometric pressure prior to the Flood. Worldwide atmospheric barometric pressure drops and increased sunlight penetration would have created a world that was very different after the Flood. These changes provide reasonable theories about the decreasing life spans and the extinction of numerous species after the Flood.
- Noah and his family could not have traveled to all lands and caught all those animals.
Fortunately for Noah, he did not have to search the world and capture them. God caused these animals and birds to come to Noah. (Gen. 6:20).
- The animals could not have all migrated to the Ark because of natural barriers like high mountains, rivers, and seas.
We cannot be sure what the earth’s geography was like prior to the Flood. Five or six generations after Noah, we can read in Genesis 10:25 that in the days of Peleg (which means “division”) that “the earth was divided.” Many believe that this means that God divided the earth into the continents we now see (though, I have to admit, it might instead mean that God divided people by language). If the land prior to the Flood was one big continent, this would indeed have facilitated the migration of animals to Noah’s location. After the Flood it would have provided a way for the animals unique to Australia to get there.
- The Ark was not big enough to hold all those animals and carry enough food for a year.
A very real possibility was that the animals Noah put in the Ark were not full grown. It would not take as much food for young samples of each species. According to calculations in The Genesis Flood, by Whitcomb and Morris, 1961, page 69, the Ark could hold the equivalent of 522 standard two-decked railroad stock cars. To carry the no more than 35,000 estimated individual vertebrate animals, the average size being that of a sheep, would require no more than 146 such railroad cars.
- The animals would be out of control in the Ark during the rough weather.
We must remember that God did not abandon Noah in the Ark. The Lord did not say get into the Ark at the beginning of the trip, nor come out of the Ark at the end. God told Noah to join Him in the Ark. (Note “Come into the Ark” in Genesis 7:1 and “Go out of the Ark” in chapter 8:16.) There is no doubt in my mind that God could have calmed the animals during the storm, as easily as Christ calmed the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4:37-41). It is entirely possible that God even caused many of the animals to hibernate throughout much of the trip.
- The Ark could not have carried enough fresh water for a year.
This is clearly not true when we consider that the Ark’s cargo space was equivalent to 522 railroad cars, as mentioned above. Also, the Ark was surrounded by drinkable water. If we assume that the ocean’s salt content was the same as today, then the excess Flood water likely diluted it sufficiently for drinking.
- Saltwater fish could not have survived in fresh or less salty water.
Freshwater fish certainly cannot survive in saltwater. But, there are numerous examples of saltwater fish being able to survive for extended periods in fresh water. Keep in mind that the whole Flood period was a miracle of God, and I see no reason not to believe that He could keep saltwater fish alive during the event.
- There wouldn’t be enough oxygen for them at the high altitude at the peak of the flood.
Atmospheric pressure and oxygen concentration are relative to sea level. As the sea rose, so also did the air we breathe. No matter if the Flood waters were as high as Mount Everest (which isn’t likely, as I explained above based on Psalm 104:5-9), the oxygen necessary to sustain life would have been more than adequate.
- The Ark had no rudder or sails.
The Ark needed no means of propulsion or steering. There was no particular place that it needed to go. After exposing the land to the incredible Flood waters, it is unlikely that Noah’s family could have recognized any landmarks after the Flood. The Ark came to rest where God wanted it to come to rest.
- Noah and 7 other people would not be able to care for that many animals.
This might be true if they were out of control or if they were all fully grown or if they were always awake or if they had no assistance from their Creator. The God who was powerful enough to destroy the earth with a massive Flood, was unquestionably able to care for those in the Ark for a year.
- God would not have killed innocent children in the Flood.
History is filled with examples where children were destined to suffer because of the choices of their parents. If we believe these children were innocent, then we should be comforted to know that by their drowning, God removed them from a wicked society and took their souls to eternal peace and rest.
- There is not enough evidence that the whole earth was under water.
I am told that prior to the theories of Charles Darwin, most educated men explained the vast quantities of fossils as evidence of the global Flood from the days of Noah. In spite of what you may have heard elsewhere, animals and plants decay rapidly under normal circumstances, rarely leaving any trace for very long that they ever even existed on the planet. The mechanism for creating fossils requires unusual circumstances where an organism is buried before it can be eaten by other animals and bacteria. It is my opinion that the fossil record and sedimentary layers are best explained by a worldwide Flood. The Bible tells us that this Flood occurred during the life of Noah to destroy evil men who refused to walk in the righteous ways of their Creator.
I am convinced of the truthfulness of the story of Noah, because my Savior Jesus Christ believed it to be true. He said:
- “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39).
The writer of Hebrews believed it–
- “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7).
The Apostle Peter believed it–
- “Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.” (I Peter 3:20).
- “And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.” (II Peter 2:5).
|Footnote: Many Christians and non-Christians have argued that such “explanations” of the Bible should not be needed. Shouldn’t we just accept this “by faith”? Those who make that argument apparently define “faith” differently than I do. The Bible describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Though I’m now convinced of the reliability of all Scripture, I’m not one who blindly accepts everything I read. Many good people struggle with their faith, especially when they hear or read attacks on the validity of Noah and the Ark (or any of many other Bible stories). God did not leave His existence without clear and convincing proofs that can be found inside and outside the Bible. One cannot use the story of Noah’s Ark as the foundation of one’s faith. No where does the Bible suggest that God intends for believers to blindly, mindlessly follow without ever questioning. The undeniable proof of His existence and the evidence of His love and power is evident at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is this single event that is the center of human history and the pivotal moment in the Bible. Once I became one hundred percent convinced that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, all other challenges to faith are minor and inconsequential. The only conclusions that can be reached about Jesus Christ is that He was a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. Which conclusion have you reached? If you don’t yet trust the Holy Bible as a reliable witness, then please read the evidence that comes from historical extra-biblical sources available at this Web site. The evidence is overwhelming, for those willing to take time to study it. If it’s true that Jesus Christ died for our sins, then was resurrected from the dead (as I declare), then our acceptance or rejection of Him will have eternal consequences for us all.