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Bible Study 10:00 am
Worship 11:00 am
Bible Study: 7:00pm
Sermons for Sunday, April 27
A.M. THE LIFE OF CHRIST: The Birth of Christ—Matthew 1:18-21
P.M. ACTS: Paul Is Shipwrecked on Melita—Acts 27:9-10
THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
The Auditorium Sunday School Class invites you to join with us each Sunday Morning at 10 a.m. for a verse by verse study of the faith-building book of Ephesians. Ephesians is written “to the saints which are at Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1). This is one of the four prison letters the apostle Paul wrote from Rome about A.D. 62-63. The theme of Ephesians is the church of Christ is the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 1:10-11, 22-23). Our study will greatly strengthen our appreciation and understanding of the church for which Christ died (Ephesians 5:25) and allow us to realize the love of God expressed through His beloved Son and His church.
A key point from each chapter will help us always to remember what the book is about and motivate and strengthen us as faithful members of the church of Christ.
The church of Christ is the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 1:10-11, 22-23).
The church of Christ is the one place where we are reconciled to God through faith and obedience (Ephesians 2:16).
The church of Christ is the eternal plan of salvation through which God is glorified by Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:11, 21).
The church of Christ is the one place where the unity of the Spirit is respected and kept (Ephesians 4:3).
The church of Christ is to behave as the chaste bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-27).
The church of Christ is to take a strong stand arrayed in the armor of God to defend these truths (Ephesians 6:10-17).
In consideration of the place and purpose of the church of Christ, won’t you make it a point in your life to arrive at the building at 10 a.m. with your Bible in hand and engage in this spiritually profitable reading and study of this truly great book of the New Testament?
THE GREAT COMMISSION
The challenging command of Christ which closes each of the synoptic gospels is often called “the great commission.” It reads, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mt. 28:19-20). Many reasons exist for this commission to be modified with the adjective “great.” Perhaps a study of some of them will be edifying, and when appreciation for the commission of Jesus is deepened a higher level of involvement may result.
The Great God
God is described as “the great God” in Titus 2:13, and he has planned man’s salvation from eternity past through Christ and his church. The apostle to the Gentiles wrote, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11). God’s plan of redeeming man through Christ expresses “his great love wherewith he loved us” (Eph. 2:4). The Psalmist said, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psa. 145:3). So, the great commission is great because it was the great God who planned it.
The Great Prophet
The angel Gabriel prior to Christ’s birth said to his mother, Mary, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk. 1:32-33). The fact of Jesus being the Son of God was attested to by the miracles he did. The gospel of Luke records the reaction of the many people who watched as Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son to life again. Luke wrote, “And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and That God hath visited his people” (Lk. 7:16). The people correctly viewed Jesus as a great prophet.
The Great High Priest and Shepherd
The writer of the book of Hebrews saw Christ as a great high priest and a great shepherd of the sheep also. In chapter four he wrote, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (v. 14). At the close of the book the reader is admonished, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (vv. 20-21). Christ has indeed become great, and three particular areas in which he is said to be great are as prophet, high priest, and shepherd.
The Great Audience
Another reason for the commission being ascribed as great is because of its contrast with the limited commission during the earthly ministry of Christ to the Jews only. When Jesus sent out the twelve he said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 10:5-6). Whereas this charge to the twelve (Mt. 10:5) and to the seventy (Lk. 10:1) was limited in its scope, the great commission was “into all the world,” “to the whole creation” or “to every creature,” and to all the nations.
The Great Supper
The great commission is analogous to the great supper prepared by a “certain man” whom Jesus told about in Luke 14:15-24. The invitation issued was, “Come; for all things are now ready.” The great commission is God’s invitation for “all the world” to seize upon the opportunity for salvation in Christ. Excuses made for not accepting the “certain man’s” invitation to the great supper resulted in a forfeiture of the invitation. Others of less fortunate circumstances were then invited to the great supper, and they came. When room for more guests was still available, the servants were urged to compel those out on the highways to come in. Their objective was to fill the spacious house. This story teaches at least two lessons. One, men and women are quick to make excuses, even about something as consequential as their eternal destiny. Two, God’s gracious invitation of salvation occupies the focus of his attention regardless of the reaction men have to it.
The Great Wonders and Miracles
The great commission was accompanied by convincing attestation. At the end of Mark’s gospel the great commission appears followed by two statements from Mark. He wrote, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mk. 16:19-20). To confirm the word preached, inspired men with great power did wonders and miracles. Luke records, “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. . . .And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 4:33a; 6:8). The convincing nature of these “great wonders and miracles” comes boldly to the forefront as even the antagonistic religious authorities composed of Annas the high priest and Caiaphas, the other priests, rulers, elders, and scribes find that they can “say nothing against it” and “cannot deny it” (Acts 4:14, 16). Hebrews 2:3-4 proves that the various signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit served to confirm the word of Christ.
The Great Salvation
Finally, the commission is great because of the great things that accompany it. Luke recorded that “great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33b). A great sense of wonder, awe, and fear possessed the Christians (Acts 5:5, 11). Luke presents the great commission being associated with “great joy” from the first of his gospel account (Lk. 2:10) to the last of it (Lk. 24:52) and right on through to the task of carrying out the great commission as the church spreads (Acts 8:8; 15:3). Not only is “great joy” a feature of the commission of Christ but “great consolation” or comfort and encouragement is, too (Philem. 7). “Exceeding great and precious promises” come out of the commission (2 Pet. 1:4). The great commission should be of paramount interest to everyone because of the “great gain” and “great reward” it promises (Mt. 5:12; Lk. 6:23, 35; 1 Tim. 6:6; and Heb. 10:35). In summary, the great commission speaks of “so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3, ASV).
The Great Judgment
When Christ returns from heaven to judge the world (Mt. 25:31-33), he will come “in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mk. 13:26). Perhaps it will not be until then that the true greatness of the charge Jesus gave to that small band of disciples from the top of the Mount of Olives just prior to his ascension will be fully realized. Jesus said, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Mt. 13:43).—Gary McDade
THE SALVATION IN CHRIST
The subject of salvation is viewed by the voice of inspiration as something to be “obtained.” Paul wrote to the evangelist Timothy, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Tim. 2:10). The Bible discusses many features of salvation that draw the reality and meaning of the subject clearly into view.
The God of heaven is the saving Lord. Peter proclaimed, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). God is referred to as the “God of our salvation” in Psalm 68:19. “Salvation is of the Lord,” declared Jonah from the whale’s belly (Jon. 3:2; Matt. 12:40). Known all too well is the answer “no where” to the refrain of the beautiful Christian hymn “Where Could I Go but to the Lord?”
God’s planning (Eph. 3:8-11), Christ’s performing (Heb. 10:7), and the Holy Spirit’s revealing (I Cor. 2:9-10) have brought about “the salvation in Christ.” The entire human family can know about it because it stands unassailably codified in the eternal word of the living Lord (Psa. 119:89; Matt. 24:35). James wrote, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21).
The gospel message is God’s power unto salvation, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). The sinner cannot be redeemed without sufficient power exerted upon the sinful condition of the soul to save him or her from spiritual ruin and death. That saving power is the gospel of Christ. The entire gospel system presented in the New Testament stands upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:1-4).
Another feature of “the salvation in Christ” is God’s amazing grace. Saving grace is made known by “the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). In his word he said, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us . . . For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:4, 8-9). Four kinds of works are mentioned in the New Testament. One, works of self-aggrandizement, “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matt. 23:5-7). Two, works legitimate under the Mosaic system, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). Three, works of human merit, which are those works being considered in the passages initially presented from Ephesians 2:4-9. And, four, works of faith, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (Jas. 2:18-20). The recipient of “the salvation in Christ” must be “rich in good works” in order to be saved by grace (I Tim. 6:18).
“The church doesn’t save you” is a statement often made today. Usually those uttering it mean that it makes no difference concerning the church in which one has membership or the church is not crucial or vital to “the salvation in Christ.” None of the features mentioned in this study unconditionally save. Obedience to God is mandatory. The writer of Hebrews said, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). The truth is that no one is saved outside of the church of Christ because the church is “in Christ,” “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:4-5). The one body is “in Christ” and the one body is the church of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; Rom. 16:16). Paul wrote, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). All the saved are added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47). The church is an integral feature in “the salvation in Christ.”
ARE YOU “IN CHRIST”?
The vital importance of being “in Christ” is seen in the many New Testament references to it. 77 times the New Testament mentions the phrase “in Christ.” Let’s explore several of these occurrences and see what may be gleaned from the pursuit.
The Faith Is “In Christ”
“And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ” (Acts 24:24).
Redemption Is “In Christ”
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).
Life Is “In Christ”
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).
Love Of God Is “In Christ”
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).
The Truth Is “In Christ”
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 9:1).
“Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (I Tim. 2:7).
The One Body Is “In Christ”
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:5).
Sanctification Is “In Christ”
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (I Cor. 1:2).
Wisdom Is “In Christ”
“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised” (I Cor. 4:10).
Hope Is “In Christ”
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19).
Triumph Is “In Christ”
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place” (II Cor. 2:14).
Simplicity Is “In Christ”
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor. 11:3).
Liberty Is “In Christ”
“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4).
Unity Is “In Christ”
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
The Faithful Are “In Christ”
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1).
All Spiritual Blessings Are “In Christ”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
All Things Are “In Christ”
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph. 1:10).
Created “In Christ”
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
His Promise Is “In Christ”
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).
His Eternal Purpose Is “In Christ”
“According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:8).
The Saints Are “In Christ”
“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Phil. 1:1).
“Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you” (Phil. 4:21).
Consolation Is “In Christ”
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies” (Phil. 2:1).
Rejoicing Is “In Christ”
“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3).
The Prize Is “In Christ”
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Faith And Love Are “In Christ”
“And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 1:14).
Grace Is “In Christ”
“And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 1:14).
Salvation Is “In Christ”
“Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Tim. 2:10).
Are You “In Christ”?
How Do You Get Into Christ?
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3).
". . and upon this rock I will build my church . ." -- Matthew 16:18.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.