Category Archives: 2014 – Nov/Dec

Editorial: Good Stewardship, Financial Report, Coming Soon Next Year (November/December, 2014) – Jon Mitchell, Editor

The Carolina Messenger has seen some changes over the past year. Several sound brothers in Christ were added to the board of directors: Michael Grooms, Steve Miller, Michael Morton, and Spencer Strickland. Terry Wheeler turned the chairmanship of the board over to Paul Kirkpatrick before leaving the Carolinas to pursue a good work in Florida, and we all wish him and his family the best. David Pharr retired as editor after many years of serving the publication in that role, and the board as well as our readership thanks him wholeheartedly for a job well done. After several months of Paul Kirkpatrick and myself serving as interim editors, the board recently asked me to serve as the publication’s new editor. It’s a privilege to take on this responsibility, one for which I am very grateful.

Under brother Pharr’s guidance as editor, the Carolina Messenger taught and edified many souls in the Carolinas and beyond due to his decision to publish articles written by sound men who taught biblical truth in a loving, balanced manner. I’m reminded of the words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:1-2, ESV).   “Stewards” comes from the Greek word oikonomos, and is defined by Thayer’s Greek Lexicon in part as “a manager, superintendent.” David Pharr’s work as editor of this paper was the epitome of good, trustworthy stewardship, and my hope and goal is to follow in his footsteps by managing this paper in such a way that it continues to lovingly proclaim sound, balanced truth that will convict, encourage, edify, and admonish as needed. I ask for your prayers that our Lord helps me to do a good job so that his name and kingdom are glorified.

The scriptural principle of good stewardship applies not only to the work of Paul and his fellow workers, nor solely to those of us who preach and teach God’s Word from the pulpit or on the printed page. Christ’s parable of the talents as recorded in Matthew 25:14-30 teaches all Christians about the need of good stewardship over the abilities and opportunities our Master has placed before us in order to be fully prepared for the day he comes again. The three servants of were each given “according to his ability” varying amounts of “talents,” extremely large sums of money. The two servants who had each received a plurality of talents “went at once and traded with them,” doubling the amount originally given to them and thereby proving themselves to be “good and faithful” stewards or managers of what had been entrusted to them. However, the third servant who had been given a single talent “went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money,” thus proving himself to be a “wicked and slothful” steward in the eyes of his master, who upon returning and hearing of his poor stewardship “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.”

Christians, our Lord and Savior has entrusted with us the responsibility of being “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). The need for us to be trustworthy stewards of this responsibility is very great.

Within the Lord’s church several deride and reject the concept of “follow(ing) the pattern of the sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13) and “have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 4), “draw(ing) away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Indeed, more and more seem to be ignorant of even the basic teachings found in the sacred writings. Even among those of us who wish to uphold sound doctrine regardless of what persecution may come, a decidedly noticeable apathy exists when it comes to being as evangelistic and spiritual as God calls us to be. This issue lists some of the problems facing the church from within along with some of the ways all of us can easily bring the saving power of the gospel to more people.

Yet in spite of these obstacles, the church of Christ still stands, and will continue to stand regardless of these problems (Matt. 16:18; 24:35). Moreover, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” continues to be found “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3-4), i.e., in his body which is his church (vs. 22-23). The Lord’s church continues to be a blessing especially for those who are a part of her, as this issue will also bring out.

The reason we as the church of Christ continue to experience these blessings from God comes from the power of his grace and providence, but also because of those of us who respond to his grace as he instructs us to do (Tit. 2:11-14). When we “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions” and “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives,” we are proving ourselves to be trustworthy stewards of the privileges and responsibilities God has entrusted to us. When we “do good to everyone,” especially by bringing them the saving power of the gospel of God (Gal. 6:10; Mark 16:15-16; Rom. 1:16), we are good managers of what God has given to us and God uses us to be a blessing to many. However, we join the ranks of those with poor, untrustworthy stewardship when we allow ignorance, apathy, and worldliness to dominate our lives and hearts.

Paul, whom we are told to imitate (1 Cor. 11:1), was a good steward of what God had given him. As 2014 ends and 2015 dawns, let us likewise work to be found trustworthy in the management of our own God-given responsibilities as Christians. — Jon

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The board of directors and the writers of the Carolina Messenger would like to thank each of you for reading this publication. We also thank all of the congregations and individual Christians who financially supported our work this year. Without your generous contributions we would not be able to use this publication to bring the saving truths of God’s Word to so many in the Carolinas, the United States, and abroad. As many of you know, this publication is given free of charge to any who subscribe, and all who write for the paper do so without cost to the publication. We depend on the generosity of you, our readers, to be able to continue to print this paper and mail it to our subscribers. As 2014 ends and many churches, families, and individuals plan their monetary budgets for 2015, we ask that each of you consider contributing toward the support of the Carolina Messenger so we can continue to produce this publication for the benefit of the kingdom.

Below is the latest financial report of the Carolina Messenger (4/8/14-10/31/14):

Church contributions

Duncan, Wildwood, Mauldin, West Walker, Concord, Corinth, Charlotte Ave, Cape Fear, Meadowbrook Road, Cornelius: $3700.00

Individual contributions: $622.00

Total contributions: $4322.00

Expenditures

Bates Printing: $7226.34

Labels: $359.88

Accuzip: $1590.00

P.O. Box: $56.00

New checks: $26.85

Total expenditures: $9259.07

The Carolina Messenger currently has a balance of $9558.43 in our checking account. As our long-time readers know, we used to be able to produce 11 issues per year, but recently have had enough funds to produce only 7 issues in 2014. Our monthly expense to produce those 7 issues is about $922.00. The board of directors and many of our readers would like to be able to return to producing 11 issues per year. In order to do so and also pay postage, labeling, and banking costs, we need your help.

Please use the enclosed envelope to contribute to the Carolina Messenger and help the gospel reach more souls throughout this land while edifying your brethren in Christ. Again, thank you so much for your support. — Jon

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COMING SOON NEXT YEAR…

The Carolina Messenger is not the only thing that has seen change in recent days. Christians have watched our society undergo numerous changes in the past year or so, not all of them for the better. The religion of Islam has gathered much attention recently from the terrible, murderous actions of ISIS overseas. In our own country, we have been saddened to see the sinful abomination of homosexuality become increasingly accepted by more in our culture, even among those who profess to follow Jesus Christ. Many among our brotherhood struggle to cope with these realities along with problems, and questions which Christians have faced for decades.

The mission of the Carolina Messenger is to teach God’s Word in love and in an understandable, balanced way that not only opposes error but also instills habits of thought which promote godly morality and Christian character. Thus, we will publish in 2015 articles that give a balanced, biblical approach to the following topics:

  • The need for evangelism
  • The religion of Islam
  • Christian apologetics
  • Works of the flesh
  • How to contribute to unity
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Godly leadership
  • Godly marriages
  • Avoiding foolishness
  • Lessons our youth need to know
  • Proper perspectives on prayer
  • How to react to persecution
  • The Christian’s involvement in politics
  • Spiritual gifts
  • And much, much more!!

We hope you continue to read and ask for your continued prayers that the Lord bless in 2015 both the Carolina Messenger, his church worldwide, and his disciples and their families. Lord willing, see you next year!! — Jon

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DON’T MISS THIS!!

The 16th Annual Carolina Men’s Fellowship

Saturday, March 14, 2015

9 AM to 3 PM

Location: Gold Hill Road Church of Christ, Fort Mill, SC

Questions? Call the Charlotte Avenue congregation at 803-327-7853 or email charlcoc@comporium.net or drpharr@msn.com

—AND—

The 71st Annual

Carolina Lectures

April 5-8, 2015

Theme:  “What The Church Needs”

Location: Duncan Church of Christ, 1234 S. Danzler Road, Duncan, SC

Questions?

Call the Duncan

congregation at 864-439-9263 or email

carolinamessenger@gmail.com

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Top Five Challenges Facing The Church – Jamie Bellar

From the moment man was created by God it seems that Satan has worked to drive a wedge between man and his Creator. Yet, even before sin entered into the world (Gen, 3:1-5; Rom. 5:12, KJV), God had purposed the plan by which man, who is separated by sin (Is. 59:1-2), could be redeemed from sin and reconciled unto God who knows no sin (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 5:17; Eph. 2:12-16; 1 Pet. 1:18-21). Just as the cross was according to God’s eternal purpose, another essential component of God’s eternal purpose is the church (Eph. 3:8-11).

According to scripture, the church is: according to purpose of God, the prophecies of inspired prophets (Is. 2:2-3; Dan. 2:44), the proclamation of John and Jesus (Matt. 3:1-10; 4:17), the promise of Jesus (Matt. 16:13-19; Mark 9:1), and it was purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:23-26). Scripture also provides a number of designations for the church such as, the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 1:19-22; Col. 1:18-20), the household of God (1 Tim. 3:14-15), the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17), and the vineyard of God (Matt. 20:1-2). Also used within Scripture, and the designation that will be used throughout this article, is the kingdom of God (Acts 8:12; John 18:36).

Concerning this designation, brother Rex A. Turner, Sr. observes, “In short, the Lord’s people have been called out of the world. Just so, the term kingdom emphasizes the government feature of the Lord’s people. Christ is their King, and His people are His subjects. Christ’s kingdom is an absolute monarchy. Christ is the King, and the will of the king is the law. Every citizen in His kingdom is under a divine obligation to obey the law. Ignorance of the law does not constitute a defense for the violation of the law, or for a failure to comply with the law.”

From the moment the eternal kingdom was established on the earth, the kingdom of God has been confronted with challenges. From without, the kingdom of God was, and continues to be challenged by persecution (Acts 8:1; Rev. 2:10, etc.), postmodernism, and pluralism. While challenges from without is expected, it is the challenges from within that are the most discouraging, divisive, and destructive. For instance, consider the internal challenges that confronted the church at Corinth as addressed in First Corinthians. Internal challenges caused by personalities (1:11-16), and pride (5:1-13; 11:17-34) were the foundation for discouragement and division at Corinth. Just as internal challenges confronted the kingdom of God in the past, so it is that internal challenges continue to confront the kingdom of God today.

Challenge #1: Ignorance. Historically, one of the things that have challenged the people of God has been ignorance. One is reminded of Judges 2:10 which declares that following the death of Joshua and the generation that outlived Joshua, “there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, not yet the works which he had done for Israel.” As it relates to ignorance, one is also reminded of words spoken by the prophet Hosea as declared about the people of God, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6).

Of great importance is understanding that knowledge is not only a matter of intellectual, but it is also a matter of intimacy. For instance, John declares, “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). God’s desire is not for His people to merely know about Him, His desire is for His people to know Him. Sadly, just as ignorance often confronted the people of God throughout the Old Testament, ignorance often confronts the kingdom of God today. Such ignorance, whether willful, or otherwise, will often lead not only to division among God’s people, but more so division among God and His people.

  1. Ignorance concerning the existence of the kingdom (Col. 1:13).
  2. Ignorance concerning the essence of the kingdom (Heb. 12:28).
  3. Ignorance concerning the entrance into the kingdom (John 3:3-5).
  4. Ignorance concerning the eternality of the kingdom (John 18:36; 1 Cor. 15:24).
  5. Ignorance concerning leadership in the kingdom (Matt. 18:1-4; 20:20-28; Luke 22:24-27). Note: Leadership in the kingdom is not a matter of position and power, but a matter of humble service.

Sadly, while the list could go on, it is imperative that we not be content in our ignorance concerning the kingdom of God, but rather we seek to understand and appreciate those things concerning the kingdom of God. Beloved, let us seek ways by which members of the kingdom of God will be better equipped to tell the lost world about the eternal King and His eternal kingdom.

Challenge #2: Indifference. Another matter that has long challenged the people of God is indifference. By definition, indifference means having a lack of interest, or having a lack of concern. While it a great enough challenge to confront those within the world who are indifferent toward the kingdom of God, an even greater challenge is confronting those within the kingdom of God who are indifferent. Among the areas where an indifferent attitude is seen are:

  1. The purpose of the kingdom of God (Eph. 3:8-11; Matt. 28:18-20).
  2. Worship in the kingdom of God (John 4:24; 1 Cor. 11:23-29; Eph. 5:19).
  3. Discipline in the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:15-19; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Cor. 2:7-9; 2 Thess. 3:6-14).
  4. Repentance in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:3, 5; 17:3ff; James 5:19-20).
  5. Reconciliation in the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 18:15-35; Gal. 6:1-2).

When members of the kingdom of God possess an attitude of indifference toward these and other matters of Scripture, it should not surprise us that the world would be indifferent toward such matters.

Challenge #3: Identity. To some extent, the first two challenges lead to the third challenge—a challenge of identity. While the religious world often seeks a denominational identity, member of the kingdom of God must not fall in step with seeking that same identity. Sadly, in a world where the overwhelming religious mottos have become “one church is as good as another,” and “attend the church of your choice,” for members of the kingdom of God to embrace such mottos is reflective of either ignorance, indifference, or a “spiritual identity crisis.”

“Identity crisis” has often been a challenge to God’s people. So often the children of Israel wanted to be identified with the world while at the same time remain in fellowship with God (1 Sam. 8:5). Sadly, the children of Israel often found themselves in captivity as a result of their failure to maintain their identity with God by walking with God. For instance, the book of Judges contains a number of instances when, because of rebellion (Judg. 2:7-11), the children of Israel would go into captivity, and as a result, God would raise up judges to deliver them. Not only were the judges raised up to deliver the children of Israel from captivity, the judges were also seeking to restore the identity of Israel through reconciliation with God.

Not only did “identity crisis” challenge the children of Israel within the Old Testament, an “identity crisis” seemed to be something that also challenged the church at Corinth as evidenced by the book of First Corinthians. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them of the identity they are to bear as a result of being sanctified in Christ Jesus (1:2). Further, he declares not only the demands of bearing such identity (1:10), but also how that identity is distorted by division that is among them (1:11-17). Throughout the book, Paul calls the Corinthians to repentance in order to be reconciled unto God, but also in order to restore an identity that is distorted by sin.

Today, just as in times past, knowing and appreciating our identity as the kingdom of God often presents a challenge to many in the kingdom of God. As result, we need to often be reminded of the need and nature of maintaining our identity as the kingdom of God.

Challenge #4: Involvement. It may very well be that the challenge of involvement is the result of ignorance concerning why one is a member of the kingdom of God. Specifically, for what purpose does one become a member of the kingdom of God? Often, the answer given to the question, “Why did you become a Christian?” is “So that I can go to heaven.” While such an answer is true and good, it does miss an essential component as to why we are Christians.

The apostle Paul declared, “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). The phrase “walk in them” denotes that the life we are to live as those created in Christ (i.e. members of the kingdom of God) is to be life of good works. This includes, but is not limited to, evangelism (Matt. 28:18-19; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:4), exhortation (Heb. 10:24-25; Heb. 3:13), and entreating the erring (Gal. 6:1-2; James 5:19-20).

Often involvement, or lack thereof, becomes a challenge to the kingdom of God because of a “That’s why we have a preacher and elders” mentality. Sadly, when such a mentality is embraced and enabled, many are robbed of the joy of being involved in the work of the Lord, but more importantly, many opportunities are neglected to have others added to the kingdom of God (Acts 2:47).

Challenge #5: Immorality. Perhaps no challenge has confronted the kingdom of God more throughout history than immorality. Such was a challenge to the people of God in the Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament. While there are many forms of immorality, the term essentially has reference to sin. Immorality presents a challenge to the kingdom of God because it not only separates the individual from God it can also result in many others being separated from God (Is. 59:1-15).

Another reason why immorality presents a challenge to the kingdom of God is because in many instances immorality goes unaddressed and undisciplined. Take for instance, the immorality addressed by Paul in First Corinthians 5. In this particular instance, not only was fornication among them, it was such that is “not so much named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife” (1 Cor. 5:1). However, along with fornication, the church at Corinth had been “puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from you” (1 Cor. 5:2). Because of immorality that had gone unaddressed and undisciplined, at stake were the perpetuity of the soul of the sinner, as well as the souls of those who approved/consent of such immorality (Rom. 1:32), and the purity of the church (1 Cor. 5:6). While there are many objections today concerning addressing and disciplining those who refuse to repent of immorality, Scripture is clear concerning the attitude and actions that the kingdom of God must have toward such (2 Thess. 3:6-14; Gal. 5:19-6:2).

Yes, there are also many challenges that exist within the kingdom of God. The aforementioned challenges are among those from within which we must address and overcome if we desire to be part of the kingdom when Christ presents it to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24). May we have the humility to do so!

jamiebeller@yahoo.com

 

Top Five Methods Of Personal Evangelism – Robert Alexander

The growth of the Lord’s church, both in the universal sense and in the local sense, is something that ought to be of utmost concern to all Christians. “How does the church ‘grow’?” is a question of fundamental and ultimately eternal importance.

Simply stated, growth is accomplished through the instrumentality of God’s drawing power the Gospel (Jn. 6:44, 45; 12:31; Rom. 1:16), which is the seed to be sown into the hearts of all men (Lk. 8:11). Evangelism is the heart and lifeblood of the work of the church. Without evangelism, the church will not grow because the seed will have not been sown. Only when the seed is sown can it produce fruit (Lk. 8:15). Without evangelism, all who are accountable unto God by way of knowing right from wrong, will remain in and die in a lost condition having never obeyed the gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:7-9).

Because of the importance of the subject at hand, the question that might be considered is this: “Who is to evangelize?” It is often argued that it is solely the job of the preacher since Paul told Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). Yes, preachers of the gospel are evangelists and must do their part in evangelizing, but they cannot do it alone. The answer is found in Christ’s words within Mark’s account of the ‘great commission’: “Go YE (emphasis mine—RA) into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 KJV).

In considering these words, it is understood that Christ was speaking to the twelve at the time. However, this command is one of a permanent nature. Never is there a moment from that time on that the people of God are not to be going and teaching. Understanding the basic nature of this command is, by way of implication, deducing that this command applies to you and me as Christians. I recognize that just as my name is implied in such passages as John 3:16 and Matthew 11:28, it is also implied in this particular passage of Scripture as well. When Christ said “Go ye,” He says “Go me (Robert Alexander).” The command of Mark 16:15 applies to ALL Christians. ALL have the responsibility to do their parts in evangelism.

Unfortunately, many are the Christians who do little to nothing in regards to personal evangelism. Excuses abound as to why so many Christians do not engage in personal evangelism:

  1. They do not have a zeal for it (and in reality, the lack of zeal manifests a lack of interest in lost souls.)
  2. They have “no time” for it.
  3. They do not know what to say (i.e., ignorance of the Word.)
  4. They are simply “afraid” (of being rejected, of forgetting what to say, etc.)

However, all these excuses can be nullified, and all Christians can be encouraged by the fact that personal evangelism can be accomplished by all. There are many effective methods by which one may engage in the work of evangelism which ought to encourage every Christian and thus instill a sense of zeal for this important work, which does not take that much time, easing the ‘dread’ or ‘fear’ one may have in regards to doing personal work. The goal of this article is to encourage every member to develop the mindset that “I can do my part in evangelism” by setting forth five effective methods that every member can or may choose to use to help spread the gospel.

Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc). As with anything else, social media can be abused. However, if used properly it can be a great tool for teaching others. From personal experience as a preacher, it has thrilled me to see members of the congregation I labor with use Facebook to set forth the gospel. It also thrills me to see members of the congregation use Facebook as an opportunity to invite others to visit with us. Is this evangelism? YES! If you have a fear of talking one on one with a person, then this method is for you. Can you set forth the plan of salvation? If so, post it to a social media site so that those who are your friends but who may not be Christians will read what they must do to be saved. Social media can be used for good discussions of God’s word or to answer questions others may have in a less pressure filled setting. Social media is a great tool that if used properly, can spread the truth of God’s word far and wide simply from one’s computer.

Good Bible Material (Tracts, publications such as Carolina Messenger, etc). The passing out of good biblical material written by faithful brethren in Christ is another effective way of spreading the gospel. Not only can you pass these out, but you can also leave such material in hospital and doctor’s office waiting rooms. When I preached in Cleveland, Alabama, we had a dear sister there who always took a handful of tracts or House to House/Heart to Heart publications with her whenever she went to the doctor or to a hospital. Her method was to leave a bunch on tables there for others to take and read. Was this effective? Yes, because due to her zeal and efforts she came to be known as the “tract lady” whenever she would show up at a hospital.

Separate and apart from the aforementioned suggestion, you might consider when paying bills to place a small tract in the envelope along with your method of payment. Will the tract be read? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the point is by sending it you are doing your part in taking the gospel into “all the world.”

Personal Conversation. Christ is the perfect example of using personal conversation to deal with spiritual matters (please read and study John 4 and His conversation with the Samaritan woman). Christ started out by talking about something both were interested in (physical water) which ultimately led to a discussion of the spiritual. You can engage in personal conversation wherever you are (grocery store, work, gas station, etc). Just strike up a conversation and you never know where it might lead. Remember, in evangelism, you do not have to come right out immediately talking about the Bible. Start out on common ground, listen to the interests of others by showing interest in them and allow the conversation to go from there. It is the personalization that makes the method of simple, personal conversation effective.

A Simple Invitation to Services. Have you ever considered that just taking the time to invite someone to visit the congregation in which you are identified with as a form of personal evangelism? Inviting someone is a form of personal evangelism because of your desire to have the prospect visit and hear God’s word proclaimed from the standpoint of hearing the word of God proclaimed publically. I know several individuals who came to obey the gospel as a direct result of just simply being invited to services. Inviting others may not sound like much to some, but as has been pointed out it is a powerful method of personal evangelism.

Spending Time with Those who are Lost. We all have friends, family and neighbors who have never obeyed the gospel (or who are in need of restoration). We need to spend time with them, and demonstrate before them a Christ like disposition of concern and compassion for their souls, for in so doing they will be influenced by our behavior to either obey the gospel or be restored back to their first love (cf. 1 Pet. 3:1 ESV). I have been told by some dear brothers and sisters in Christ that they were converted to Christ simply by the interest shown them by other Christians through their living of the gospel of Christ before them (cf. Phil. 1:27; Matt. 5:13-16). A kind word, a kind deed or just simply your presence can go a long way in influencing others to come to or return to Christ.

Personal evangelism is not just limited to preachers, it is imperative that every Christian be active in some way, shape or form. And ALL can do so, it just comes down to possessing the “I can!” mindset (cf. Phil. 4:13).

As a Christian, let me encourage you to not be intimidated by personal evangelism. There are many methods by which you can communicate the good news of salvation to others in simple and easy ways that are not intimidating. This article has considered five effective methods every Christian can use in personal evangelism. Perhaps one of these will work or is working for you or perhaps you can think of something else which may work better, that is up to you. May God bless you as you seek to do your part in carrying out the work of evangelism.

roblee79@netzero.net

 

Top Five Blessings Of Being In God’s Kingdom – Vincent J. Eagen, III

The “Kingdom of God” is often a misunderstood term, even among the religious. Historically, God’s Kingdom was known as Israel, to whom he gave the Promised Land. God symbolically dwelt among them in the tabernacle (and later, the temple), gave them victory over their oppressors, and allowed them to face trials when they failed to follow him. Ultimately, God brought forth his own Son through them, and it was known that the kingdom would pass through him. The kingdom was taken from those who failed to follow God, and opened to others (the Gentiles). Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matt. 21:43). In Jesus’ lifetime, people expected an earthly kingdom, but Jesus clearly stated that his kingdom was spiritual (John 18:33-37; Acts 1:6-8). Clearly, the kingdom is the church.

Still, there are many today who make mistakes about God’s Kingdom, thinking it is a future earthly kingdom. Those who look only for a future kingdom are missing the point, and they are missing out on the glorious blessings God has bestowed on those who are Christians (for every Christian is a member of the church, and thus every Christian is a citizen of the Kingdom of God). “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psa. 116:12)

Blessing #1—We are part of God’s family. Paul said, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the house hold of God” (Eph. 2:19). Isn’t it great to know that no matter where you go, when you find Christians there you are among family? Everyone in the kingdom is part of the same family. We have the love and encouragement of our brothers and sisters as we travel through this life. The Spirit through Paul illustrated it as a body: “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). When something bad happens to a family member, we ought to feel sympathy for that member, and if something good happens, we ought also rejoice.

Blessing #2—We have forgiveness. Not just forgiveness for the sins we committed in the past, but forgiveness for our current sins as well. John was writing to people who were already citizens of the kingdom when he said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). As long as we recognize our sin when we are convicted, and ask forgiveness from the Father, we have continual cleansing from the fountain of blessing. Under this blessing we could also include grace—that is God giving us what we do not deserve, and mercy, which is God not giving us what we do deserve.

Blessing #3—We are heirs. Seeing as we are children of God, adopted as it were into his family, we become heirs to the promise and joint-heirs with Jesus. We inherit all he has to give. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom. 8:16-17). There are several things we inherit. The Hebrews writer described us as heirs of salvation: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). He also referred to us as being heirs of the promise: “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath” (Heb. 6:17).Peter wrote that the Christian husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7).

Blessing #4—We have freedom. Paul said, “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:7). Since Jesus redeemed us, or bought us back, from sin with his blood, we are now freed from our burden of sin and the wages that come with that. According to Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death. The faithful in Smyrna were promised by the risen and glorified savior that, “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:11). In Revelation 21:8 we are told that the second death is the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, wherein all those who practice unrighteousness have a place. Because we are citizens of the kingdom, we are free from that burden.

Blessing #5—We have salvation. Because the kingdom is built on the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), and because Jesus lived his entire life without sin (Heb. 4:15), he was able to be that perfect sacrifice that could take away sin from any who would come to him. In Acts 2 we learn that God added to the church—which is the kingdom—those who were being saved. Thus, all those who are part of the kingdom have salvation.

James reminded those to whom he wrote that all good and perfect gifts come from above, from the Father (James 1:17). This suggests that everything that is truly part of the kingdom is good and perfect, and there for our help. Sometimes we get caught up in our lives here and we forget the glorious blessings we have as citizens of the Kingdom of God. When we catch ourselves slipping into that, it would behoove us to take a few minutes to remember who we are, and where our citizenship truly lies. When we take the time to focus on that with which we have been blessed, we will remember that there is no better thing than to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God!

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