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Thursday, April 20, 2006

DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT THURSDAY – JESUS, The Way Out Of Religious Confusion. #2.

A man was answering questions for a national poll. When asked for his church preference, he responded, "Red brick." - Source Unknown.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6. TNIV

Remember putting your face above a headless frame painted to represent a muscle man, a clown, or even a bathing beauty? Many of us have had our pictures taken this way, and the photos are humorous because the head doesn't fit the body. If we could picture Christ as the head of our local body of believers, would the world laugh at the misfit? Or would they stand in awe of a human body so closely related to a divine head? - Dan Bernard.

Yesterday we saw how the example of Jesus can lead us out of Religious Confusion, today, how can we be sure that we are simply Christians, members of the church we read about in the New Testament? In order to answer this, it helps to observe what the Bible tells us about...

Jesus promised to build His church… And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it. - Matt 16:18.

The Church was established through the preaching of the gospel, and on the first Pentecost after the ascension of Christ, we see by preaching the gospel, Peter “called out” those who were willing to express their faith in Jesus…

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call." - Acts 2:38-39.

The Church expanded through the preaching of the gospel. At first, the church existed only in Jerusalem, but as the gospel spread, and people responded to it, groups of these saved people in various cities met together. Each group became known as a church in a local sense (in contrast to the church universal which is made up of all those saved throughout the world). By simply teaching the gospel of Christ, a local church was formed when those who obeyed the gospel joined together in their work and worship.

When we read what the Bible says us about the Lord's church, we learn that by responding to the gospel and paying close heed to the “apostles doctrine” (cf. Ac 2:42), people in the first century were able to be Christians only, without all the confusion prevalent today. Is it possible for us to do this today? Yes! Here is the way out of religious confusion...

Remember, Christ calls us into His ekklesia (church) through the gospel, therefore, we can begin by obeying the same instructions that Peter gave on the Day of Pentecost...

Repenting of our sins, and getting baptised in water as a public declaration of your commitment, then we then receive the same blessings as did the 3000 on that day: Salvation! By being saved in this manner, we know that the Lord truly adds us to His church just as He added them on the day of Pentecost! What do we do next?

The early Christians continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine...
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. - Acts 2:42.

They joined no other religious organisation, and neither should we! In Christ, we are automatically united with all others who are in Him! And as members of the Lord's church, we should study carefully the New Testament description of the church that continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine.

This description is found in the Book of Acts, and in the Epistles which follow it.It is here that we will find instruction from the Lord's apostles on how…
1) To worship the Lord acceptably.
2) To be scripturally organized as local congregations.
3) To live and work together as Christians, spreading the gospel of Christ through word and example.

Since the apostles were directed by the Holy Spirit, we may be sure that their instructions were exactly what Jesus wanted them to be! If we duplicate the early churches by following the apostles' instructions, we will simply be “Christians,” and then we can be certain the Lord is pleased with us! As Jesus said to His apostles about those who would receive or reject their instructions...

"Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me." - Luke 10:16.

Simply being a Christian, and duplicating a New Testament congregation is not as difficult as one might think, there are literally thousands of such congregations throughout the world, and by
following the example and teachings of Jesus, as revealed by His apostles, we can be led out of the religious confusion that dominates the religious world today!

The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members. - William Temple.

If you have not yet responded to the commands of the gospel as put forth by Peter in Acts 2:38, why not let the reaction of those who did on the Day of Pentecost describe your actions today.

Loving Father, help me by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be a Christian a follower of Jesus, and one who obeys His teachings. That I may not be deceived and fall into religious confusion. In the wonderful name of Jesus I pray! Amen!

Be Encouraged!

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