LET THE BIBLE SPEAK – The Church Of Christ’s Choice

LET THE BIBLE SPEAK – The Church Of Christ’s Choice


Announcer: Today on Let
the Bible Speak – We live in an age of
seemingly limitless choices, and that’s no less
true in religion. But are we giving
Christ a choice? I’ll explain next on
“Let the Bible Speak.” From the churches of Christ From the churches of ChristLet k Let the Bible Speak with Kevin Presley ♪ Intro Music ♪ And welcome, it’s always
a joy to be with you to study the Bible. Thank you for joining me today. Democracy has spread
across the globe. Over the past century,
until now, more than half of the nations of the
world allow their citizens to choose their leaders. We like a sense of
self-determination. We like to be in control
and have choices. In America, we live in
a free market economy, and that means that economically
we have a seemingly endless number of choices when it
comes to the things we buy. We truly live in a world
of decisions and choices. Consequently, businesses
and corporations must account for that,
and they must compete for our attention, and
convince us that their product is better quality or a better
value than someone else’s. If we don’t like a
particular product, we can simply go elsewhere,
or search until we find the thing that suits our
tastes and our desires. Well, is that not the
approach we have taken to the church as well? Since the falling away, but
especially since the beginning of the Protestant
Reformation, religious bodies of one kind or another
have proliferated until there are nearly
more than we can count. For those who become
interested in Christianity and who seek to
identify with a church, well, they face a daunting task. Which one? And on what basis, why? If we’re honest with ourselves,
doesn’t it most often boil down to which
church attracts us, which church is closest
to our way of thinking, or which one is convenient
to us, but yet offers the things that
most appeal to us? Perhaps it’s a matter
of social interaction, or it’s a matter of
preference of style. But how often does someone
today take a Bible in hand and actually search for the
church contained therein? You see, faith and
conviction has been replaced in our culture by a
spirit of consumerism. And consequently,
churches work very hard to present themselves
as the most appealing, the most exciting, the most
popular, the most accommodating, the most culturally relevant,
and on the list goes. Hardly a week goes
by that I don’t see an internet advertisement
from some religious consulting firm, offering
to sell their services to any church that wants
to boost attendance, get noticed in the community,
position themselves as the most appealing
to the most people. And that’s not
altogether a new thing. For years, famous televangelists
have urged their converts at crusades and over
television and radio to now go find and join
a church of your choice. Have you heard them say that? Have you heard them
say attend the church of your choice next Sunday? Or have you ever heard
them say now, go find and become part of the
church of Christ’s choice? I don’t recall hearing that,
but that’s what I want us to think together about today. Jesus said in Matthew, the 16th
chapter and the 18th verse, upon this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against me. Won’t you open your Bible
and study with me today about the church
as Jesus built it? In the age of choice, does Jesus have a choice in the matter? “The Church of Christ’s
Choice,” in a moment. It has been so often
repeated that it has become almost cliche in the
evangelical world. Attend or join the
church of your choice. Well, that has a
nice ring to it, because we generally
like to be given choices when it comes to the things
we buy or the things we do. Stores compete for our business, and so why shouldn’t
churches do the same? Well, consequently, when
people show interest in religious things, they
survey the fragmented church community, and they’re
faced with choosing one that most appeals to them. The churches understand
this, and so they reach out, hoping to win the attendance
and membership of the seeker. Some choose a church
because they know people who are members of it,
or because it aligns with their family’s religious
heritage and tradition, or because of its preacher. Perhaps its musical offerings,
its ministry offerings, its social standing,
and on the list goes. And if they attend
and either something isn’t to their liking or
another church comes along that offers more or
appeals to them more, or some other reason,
well, then they choose that church for the time being. Does it occur to us that the
one who should have the choice in the matter is
not us, but Christ? We’re told to attend
the church of our choice as though Christ
doesn’t have a church or a choice in the matter. But to be blunt,
Christ is the only one who should have a
choice in this matter. You see, as the masses
search for the church of their choice, the one
who is interested in truth and doing the will of God
will take the Bible in hand and seek the one
of his choosing. That’s because the
church that Jesus founded is clearly revealed
in the word of God, along with its identifying
characteristics. So what is the church
of Christ’s choice? Well, first of all, the
church of Christ’s choice is the one that he alone built. The Savior said, “On this
rock I will build my church, “and the gates of Hades shall
not prevail against it.” Now, notice that Jesus said,
“I will build my church.” First of all, Jesus
would build a church, not some other man
or group of men. He would build it. And second, he would build
his church, not churches. Now, some protest that
that’s far too narrow and too exclusive,
especially in this day of ecumenicalism and this
day of a mind-boggling number and myriad of religious
organizations and denominations. But Jesus plainly said
in the very beginning, “I will build my church.” And I challenge anyone to
find a passage of Scripture where Jesus ever promised
to build any more than that. I will build my church. Now, Paul later said
in Ephesians four, beginning in verse three,
“Endeavoring to keep “the unity of the Spirit
and the bond of peace.” Listen, now there is
one body and one spirit, just as you were called in
one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith,
one baptism, one God
and Father of all who is above all and
through all and in you all. It’s perfectly clear what
Paul meant when he said, “There is one God
and Father of all.” Or one Lord, or one Spirit. Very few people would
question what the apostle says or wonder about what he meant. So shouldn’t it just
as readily be accepted that there is one
body and one faith, for Paul said that as well. Not more than one, certainly
not many, Paul said one. Now, Paul use the
metaphor body to refer to the church and the Lord. Colossians one and verse 18
says he is the head of the body of the church, who is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he may have the preeminence. Paul says the body of Christ
is the church of Christ. His body is his church. And Paul told the Ephesians
that there is but one body. That is, there is
but one church. And he declared that
there is but one faith. The word faith there
refers to the body of truth the church follows and
believes in practice. Well, isn’t that
contrary to the idea that there are many churches,
representing many faiths? But someone says, “Now,
you misunderstand. “The one body or church
is made up of all “of the many
denominations, you see. “That they’re all just
different expressions “of the same faith, and
ultimately the same church.” But is that true? Doesn’t the word
denomination imply a sect or division of the whole? Surely that’s not what
Jesus meant when he said, “I will build my church.” Surely that’s not
what Christ envisioned was a fragmented
body, splintered into
varied and conflicted denominations representing
contrary beliefs and practices, but that’s exactly what
we see around us today. I’m sure, I’m certain, that
that’s not what Jesus meant. For he later prayed in his
great high priestly prayer in John chapter 17,
beginning in verse 20, praying to the Father, “I do
not pray for these alone.” That is, his 12 disciples alone. “But also for those
who will believe in me “through their word.” That is, all who
would hear, believe, and obey the preaching
of the gospel. He said that they all may
be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that
they also may be one in us, that the world may
believe that you sent me. The church that Jesus
built is to be one, in the same way
that God the Father and Christ the Son are one. Or do the Father and
Son represent two
different theologies? Do they represent two different
approaches to worship? Two different ways of salvation? Well, of course
not, they’re one, not only in mission and a
purpose, but even in mind. Paul said in First
Corinthians one and verse 10, “Now I plead with you,
brethren, by the name “or by the authority of
our Lord Jesus Christ, “that you all speak
the same thing, “and that there be no
divisions among you, “but that you be perfectly
joined together in the same mind “and in the same judgment.” Now, I realize we’re
a long, long way away from that ideal that the
apostle expressed in that verse. The sad thing is
we’re not even trying to achieve that ideal. We’re contented
and we’re satisfied to be a religious world that
is segregated and divided into hundreds of varying
and different churches that ultimately have as
their beginning, men, and not the Lord Jesus. The church of Christ’s choice
is not only un-denominational, it is pre-denominational. It existed long before the many denominations
ever came to be. And it was never intended to
be divided into denominations. Jesus Christ built his church
on the first day of Pentecost after his resurrection
in the city of Jerusalem, and that church grew
to cover the Earth as the gospel was
preached to the nations. It was one church and no more. Then again, one may ask,
“Well, isn’t the body of Christ “made up of many members,
according to Paul “in First Corinthians
chapter 12?” But Paul wasn’t sanctioning
denominationalism or suggesting it in the least. The many members, you
see, are individual people who make up each
local congregation of ultimately the same body. You read about
members of the church. You read about
congregations of the church, such as when Paul in
Romans 16 and verse 16 spoke of the churches of Christ and other similar designations
in the New Testament. But you do not read of
different denominations or organizations
in the word of God. They didn’t exist for
hundreds of years. And they came into being
not by the word of God, but by the will and
the ways of men. Jesus established his
church, and that church is undoubtedly the
one of his choice. Not one built by someone
else at some later time. Now, we need to take the
Bible in hand therefore and be searching for
the one that he built, not merely comparing the ones
that men have since built. Number two, the church
of Christ’s choice is the one he rules. Now, since Jesus was
given the authority by God to build a church, he alone
was given the authority to rule over that
church, and that he does. Ephesians chapter one,
beginning in verse 22, Paul said, “And God put all
things under Christ’s feet “and gave him to be the head
over all things to the church “which is his body,
the fullness of him “who fills all in all.” The phrase under Christ’s
feet means it was put under his authority,
under his rule. He is the head of his
body, he rules his body, represented by the inspired
apostles and their writings according to Ephesians
chapter two and verse 20. Now, Jesus rules his church. Doesn’t that imply
that the church follows Christ’s teachings, his
will, his directives, his example, and his alone? Wouldn’t that mean that the
church acts and worships only by his authority and
not that of men today? And if that be the case,
it means that the church of Christ’s choice
is ruled and governed by Christ himself through
his inspired word. Not a convention, not some
council of men convened, but rather through
Christ and his word. The New Testament is
its only rule of faith. The church of Christ’s
choice, therefore, has no creed but
the Bible itself. No teaching, no practice,
no form of worship, no belief that is not authorized by the word of Jesus the King. The Bible is its
pattern and its guide in faith, work, and worship. And so therefore, when we’re
seeking out the church, it’s not a matter of what
we like or what we prefer. It’s a matter of a church
following the word of God alone and rejecting that
for which there is no Bible authority
or Bible sanction. Number three, the church of
Christ’s choice wears his name. And you know, along with
the phrase the church of your choice, another popular
catchphrase or cliche is, oh, there’s nothing in a name. But isn’t that how
Christ looked at his name in relation to the church? We read in Ephesians
chapter three, beginning in the 14th verse,
for this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family
in heaven and Earth is named. Now, names are profoundly
important when it comes to our physical families,
we acknowledge that. They identify us with
those to whom we belong, and with whom we are
associated by blood. A name, for example, joins
a husband and wife together and indicates the
lineage of a father down to a son, and so forth. Well, Paul said the
family of God is named of the Lord Jesus Christ. It wears his name. The church is the
bride of Christ. It’s not the bride
of Martin Luther. It’s not the bride
of some other man. It’s the bride of Jesus Christ. According to Ephesians
five, verses 30 through 32, Second Corinthians
chapter 11 and verse two, the church is Christ’s creation. It is his body, it is his bride, it is his family,
it is his kingdom. Why would it wear any other
name, that’s the question. Is there anything more
divisive and factionalizing than to wear the name
of some other person? You see, names are a way of
identifying an organization with its founder or its head
or who are what it represents. Names are important. In fact, religion is one
of the only areas of life where we minimize and
dismiss their importance. Now, I don’t want to
be identified with
some pet doctrine. I don’t want to be
identified with some action of the church that Jesus
enjoined upon the church, as important and
essential as that may be. I want to be
identified with Christ. And as belonging to
Christ and to no other. Jesus gave the church
his name to wear, and the church should
be glad to wear it, and to wear it alone. It is a worthy name,
it’s an accurate name, if the church that
wears it belongs to him. In Romans 16 and verse 16,
Paul told the believers in Rome concerning the
other congregations throughout the brotherhood, the churches of
Christ salute you. And he wasn’t attaching some
denominational designation to the church by referring
to such a phrase. He was merely aptly
describing the relationship and the church to Christ. He was describing what
those churches were and who they belonged to. And that’s what names are about. That’s simply what we mean
when we refer to the churches of Christ today, it is referred
to as the church of God, referring to God the Son,
the church of the Firstborn, again referring to Christ. Christ’s church wears his
name because it is his church, his bride, his family, and
because it is his body. Now finally, the church
of Christ’s choice is the one he adds people
to when they’re baptized for the remission of their sins. The church of Christ’s choice
is not one that people join by meeting a denominational
body’s requirements or bylaws, but Christ’s
church is the one that people are added
to by Christ himself when they obey the gospel. That’s an incredibly
important distinction, and one that we very
well need to be aware of. Because that’s the plain
teaching of the book of Acts. In fact, it’s one of
the very first things pointed out to us
about the church at the time of its establishment
on the day of Pentecost after the resurrection
and ascension of Christ, the day Jesus built his church. That day, thousands
of unbelieving Jews heard Peter preach the
gospel of the risen and exalted Christ, and
they came to believe that he was indeed the Christ,
the Savior, the Anointed One, and they now wanted to
submit unto him as Lord. And so in the guilt of
their sins, they cried out in verse 37 to Peter
and the other apostles, “Men and brethren,
what shall we do?” Notice how Peter
answered that question. Then Peter said to
them, “Repent, and
let every one of you “be baptized in the
name of Jesus Christ “for the remission of
sins, and you shall receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Now, that’s your
Bible, my friend. Verse 41 then says, then those
who gladly received his word were baptized, and that day,
notice there was no delay, but that day, about 3,000
souls were added to them. Verse 47, praising
God and having favor with all the people, and the
Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Now, no mourner’s
benches, no prayer altars, no calls for people
to stop where they are and bow their head and invite
Jesus into their heart. They now believe that
Jesus was the Christ. They were told to turn from
their sins in repentance and be baptized by the
authority of Christ for the remission of their sins. They were saved. And the Lord at that point
added them to the church. Is there anything there that
even in the slightest way indicates that those
people were ever told to go and join a
church of their choice? No, rather the Lord
added them to the church. For one thing, there
was no other church. And in the eyes of God, there
still is no other church. The Lord added
them to his church when they were baptized for
the remission of their sins, when they were saved
from their sins. Paul later said in First
Corinthians 12 and verse 13, “For by one spirit that
is led by the teaching “of the same spirit, we are
all baptized into one body.” The church is whose choice? Jesus built one. He is the head of it. It wears his precious name. It follows his word
in faith and practice. It’s made up of those
who live in faith, repenting of their sins,
confess their faith in him, and are baptized by his
authority for the remission or the forgiveness of
their sins, at which point, not before, not one minute
after, but at which point he, the Lord, adds
them to that church. Friend, the church of Christ’s
choice, not your choice or my choice, the
church of his choice. Are you a member of that church? Are you sure you’re a
member of that church? Have you truly sought
the church of his choice? Is it the one revealed
in the New Testament? Because it does matter. Is the church you’re a member
of his choice or yours? Investigate the Scriptures,
look at what it reveals about the church, strive
for a return to the church that Jesus built 2,000 years
ago, before the churches and denominations established
by men ever came to be. I’ll be back in just a moment. – [Announcer] Subscribe
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(pleasant gospel music) Our time together is
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for “Let the Bible Speak.” I hope you have a
great week ahead, and won’t you make your
plans to join me back here for another study straight
from the word of God next time, if the Lord wills. Until then, God bless you. – [Voiceover] If you
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