Tag Archives: Victor M. Eskew

“You Believe You’re The Only Ones Going To Heaven!” — Victor M. Eskew

This statement is made often by people who hear members of the church advocate for the divinely authorized existence of only one church. It is a statement designed to be extremely controversial. Those who put it in question form usually want a “yes” or “no” answer. They want us to say: “Yes.” If we do, they will turn away in anger, or, they will continue to argue and fight, or, they will seek to shame and embarrass the individual. They want to convince us that we are excluding others. In reality, we are trying to include them in a very special group of people, those who have been redeemed, that is, purchased by the blood of Christ (cf. Acts 20:28).

One question I like to ask individuals when discussing the church is: “Did a church exist in the first century?” Some do not comprehend the importance of the first century, so I ask: “Did a church exist when the apostles lived on the earth?” Most have never contemplated the question. When asked, they do not really know how to respond. They might say: “I guess,” or, “I suppose.” This is not something that is very important to most denominations. They do not teach about the first century church. If they are a little surprised by the question, show them one or two Scriptures that mention the church: “…And the Lord added to the church daily church as should be saved” (Acts 2:47), or, “…And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem…” (Acts 8:1). There is no doubt that church existed. You might inform them that the word “church” is used 80 times in the New Testament. Again, a church existed some two thousand years ago.

This leads to a second question: “What church existed two thousand years ago?” Again, this question often stuns the one to whom it is directed. Why? Because he has never considered it. A church existed in the first century. Which church was it? It was not one denomination that is here today because not one denomination existed until much later. However, during His earthly ministry, Jesus said: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Jesus promised to build His church. Acts 20:28 reveals that it was purchased with His blood: “…to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Jesus built it. Jesus purchased it. It is His church. It belongs to the Christ. When it was established on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:47), it was the only church that existed. In order to be saved from sin, death, and condemnation, a person had to be a member of that church. If not, why not?

The next consideration involves a choice between true or false. Question: “All denominations that exist today are man-made organizations.” The correct answer to this question is true. They did not exist in the first century. They were founded by men during what is known as the Reformation Movement. Therefore, they cannot be the church of the first century.

Does the church that existed in the first century exist today?  Remember Jesus’ words: “…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Nothing, absolutely nothing, could have destroyed the Lords church. The prophets of old declared that “it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44). It must exist today. Where is it? How does one find it? First, he examines the church about which we read in the Bible, the first century church. He looks at its name. He learns about it organization. He comes to understand it doctrine. He studies its worship. He comprehends what a person had to do to become a member of that church. These are what some refer to as “identification marks.” Once these marks are understood, a person then searches all the churches until he finds the true church. It is definitely here. “It shall stand forever.”

Is the church of Christ that church? Those who are members of it believe that it is. We believe that we meet the identification marks of that church about which we read in the Bible. Since the church is the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33), we wear only His name. In Romans 16:16, Paul wrote: “…The churches of Christ salute you.” In order to enter this church, we exhort men and women to do only what those on the day of Pentecost did. They heard Peter’s words (Acts 2:22). They were pricked in their hearts, “and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer is the same one we give men today. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Some of those that heard Peter that day, obeyed (Acts 2:41). Having obeyed, they were saved (Mark 16:16). Those saved individuals were added by the Lord to His church (Acts 2:47). He still does the same thing for the saved today. These are just two of the identification marks of the church. We could discuss others as well.

When Paul wrote to the church as Ephesus, he set forth in one section of that epistle what some refer to as “the seven ones” (Eph. 4:4-6). He opened those “seven ones” with these words: “There is one body…” In Ephesians 1:22-23, he had already revealed what that one body is. It is the church. Thus, there is one church. That is the plain teaching of the New Testament of Jesus Christ. My friends, members of that body are going to Heaven.

Those who deny the teaching and the significance of the one church need to consider some Bible history. In the days of Noah, there was only one ark in which one could be saved. Would they have asked Noah: “So you believe only those on the ark are going to be saved from the flood?” In the days of Moses, only those who were in houses with the two side posts and upper door post covered with blood were going to be saved from the angel of death. Would they have asked Moses: “So you think the Israelites are the only ones who will have their firstborn spared from the tenth plague?” In the days of Joshua, the city of Jericho was destroyed. One house, the house of Rahab was spared. It was spared because it was the only one with a scarlet line in the window (Josh. 2:18-19). Would they have asked Joshua: “So you believe only those in Rahab’s house will be saved?” The answer to these questions would have all been: “Yes.” If a yes answer was given then, why is a yes answer so unusual today? God has always designed a place of salvation for man. Today that place of safety is the church of Christ.

Victor is a graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching, University of Memphis, and Ambridge University. He is married to Kathleen, and they have three children and six grandchildren. He preaches for the Oceanside congregation in Atlantic Beach, FL.

“Is Christ Divided?” — Victor M. Eskew

Is Christ divided? Those who know their Bibles would answer in the negative. They will boldly affirm: “No, Christ is not divided.” However, the actual practice of some proves they do not really believe this answer. Their practice affirms that they believe Christ is divided. Those who embrace the concept of denominationalism want us to believe that the Christ is divided. He is divided in many sectarian groups: Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Amish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Assemblies of God, Mormons, Mennonites, Nazarenes, Lutherans, Independent Christian Churches, Disciples of Christ, Church of God, and a host of other religious groups. All of these groups, we are told, belong to Christ. All of them are separate from one another in name, doctrine, worship and works. Thus, Christ is divided according to those who hold to denominationalism.

The question that entitles our article is found in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. The apostle Paul was addressing a group of Christians who were divided under one roof. He writes: “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ” (1 Cor. 1:11-12). Immediately after addressing this divided church, Paul asks: “Is Christ divided?” The question is rhetorical. It answers itself. Is Christ divided? The answer is a simple and bold: “No.” If Christ is not divided, then why were the Corinthians dividing themselves by the names of various men? It was a stern rebuke to the division that existed in this first century church. Paul would ask those in what is referred to as Christendom the same question. “Is Christ divided?” The answer is: “No.” Then why are all those who claim to be disciples of Christ so divided?

Some try to rationalize that we are not divided. “We all believe in the same Jesus Christ,” they say. “We are all going to the same place,” we are told. “We have unity in diversity,” they proclaim. Dear reader, our doctrines are different. The manner in which we worship is different. The practice of our Christianity is different. Our “interpretations” of God’s Word are radically different. This is not unity. In 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul writes: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Five times Paul calls for unity in this one verse. Notice the words that he uses: “speak the same thing,” “no divisions among you,” “perfectly joined together,” “the same mind,” and “the same judgment.” God never intended for there to be different religious groups on every corner, calling themselves by different names, teaching different doctrines, and engaging in different religious practices. Christ is not divided!

Sadly, some within the precious church of Christ have not learned this lesson. We are divided in many different groups today: conservative vs liberal, young vs old, traditional vs contemporary, black vs white vs Spanish, one school vs another school, institutional vs non-institutional, and on the list could go. Again, this is not what our Lord intended among His people. In His high priestly prayer in John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed for oneness among believers. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou has loved me.” The word “one” is extremely powerful. Jesus likened it unto the oneness that exists between Him and the Father. Would you say that is a perfect oneness? That is what He desires for His disciples. “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee…”

On a more personal level, divisions often happen within single congregations. Sometimes it is one family versus another family. Sometimes it is one portion of the eldership against another portion of the eldership. It may be that a segment of the church locks horns with the entire eldership creating a riff in the church. The division can be between the preacher and the elders. Churches have been divided between the young and the old. One church can be split between those who are conservative and those who are liberal. Various ethnic groups can be divided under one roof. The church can be divided over mission works, various preachers, different Christian publications, and various works in which the church is involved. This is not the way Paul taught the first century church of Philippi to be. To them he wrote: “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).

My friends, the religious world has a long way to go with regard to unity. Our brotherhood has a long way to go as well. In addition, some churches have a lot to work out in the area of oneness. As churches address this issue, they need to constantly ask themselves the question: “Is Christ divided?” The answer will ring clearly in their minds: “No, Christ is not divided!” Let us close with the words of Paul to the church at Ephesus: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:1-6, emp. mine).

Victor preaches for the Oceanside congregation in Atlantic Beach, FL.

Preaching From The Old Testament — Victor M. Eskew

When individuals hear that the churches of Christ teach that the Old Testament has been “done away” (2 Cor. 3:11), they often believe that the churches of Christ do not believe in the Old Testament. Such is not true. Too, there are some members of the church who despise any preaching from the Law of Moses since the law has been abolished (Eph. 2:14-15). Again, this is not true. It is true that the Old Covenant has been taken away. Paul wrote: “Blotting out the handwritings of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col. 2:14). But, this same apostle also wrote: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The Old Testament is not the law that governs man today. The law that now governs man is the New Testament, or, the Law of Christ. The Old Testament, however, is extremely valuable to a person’s studies. There is a wealth of information that can be obtained from it. In this article, we want to examine this topic: “Preaching from An Old Testament Perspective.”

There are so many ways that a preacher can use the Old Testament in his preaching. Let’s list several of them. First, the Old Testament has so much to teach us about God. The opening verse of the Old Testament states: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). So much can be learned about God from this one verse alone. Hundreds of others verses also give us insights into the Almighty God (Gen. 17:1). We learn about His attributes, His promises, His faithfulness, His generosity, His longsuffering, His anger, and His wrath from verses of the Old Testament narrative.

Second, Christ is also found in the Old Testament. He Himself affirmed this to the Jews during His earthly ministry. “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah reveal Him unto us. We also seem a glimpse of Him in a figure referred to as “the angel of the Lord” (Gen. 16:7; Exo. 3:2; Judg. 2:4). Several Old Testament characters are types of Jesus: Melchizedek, Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon to name a few. Yes, the Son of God is manifest from Genesis to Malachi.

Third, we can study the narratives of the Old Testament and glean the bountiful harvest of lessons that are found therein. Every text taken from the Old Testament has some lesson that can be learned. In Genesis 2, we learn about marriage. In Genesis 3, we learn about temptation, sin, accountability, and punishment. In Genesis 4, we see the difference in the practice God-ordained worship and man-made worship. We could continue from chapter to chapter to chapter noting the storehouses of lessons the Old Law provides for us.

Fourth, the Old Covenant helps us to understand vital principles that are also taught in the New Testament. We often sing the song Trust and Obey. As Christians, we must practice both of these things to be right with God (Eph. 1:13; Rev. 22:14). These principles, however, are not new. They have been around since the dawn of time. A man who trusted God and obeyed Him was Noah. “By faith Noah…” (Heb. 11:7). Noah heard God’s words about the flood and the ark. He trusted everything that God told him…but he also obeyed. “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22). It was his faith that moved him to obey. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark the saving of his house…” (Heb. 11:7). Today, God has not warned us of a flood, nor has He commanded us to build an ark. He has given us other facts, promises, and commands that must be trusted and that must be obeyed. Noah encourages us to do these things. He did and was saved from the waters of the flood. If we will trust and obey, we can be saved from the wrath of God at the last day.

Fifth, preachers can take the Old Testament and preach about books, chapters, and verses found therein. There are thirty-nine unique books in the law. Each book has a theme. This theme can be tied to the overall theme of the Bible, “The Salvation of Fallen Man through Jesus Christ the Son of God.” When Christians come to have an overall view of a book, the internal matters of that book make so much more sense. There are many special chapters that preachers can focus upon such as: The Creation (Gen. 1), The Fall of Man (Gen. 3), The Call of Moses (Ex. 3), Blessings and Curses (Deut. 28), The Contrast of the Godly and the Ungodly (Ps. 1), The Shepherd Psalm (Ps. 23), and The Suffering Servant (Is. 53) just to name of the few well-known chapters. There are also individual verses that stand alone. Joshua 24:15 is one of them: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Another familiar text is found in the little book of Ruth. “And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Many others could also be singled out.

These are just a few of many ways that the Old Testament can be profitably used by ministers of the gospel today. If we ever begin to think that we have run out of preaching material, all we have to do is start reading the book of Genesis. We will find enough sermons in the Old Testament to keep us busy for a lifetime. Many of the New Testament writers did not hesitate to use the Old Testament in their preaching. When we read Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 10, and Hebrews 11 we see this to be true. Dear preacher, “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). This includes preaching the wonderful messages of the Old Testament.

Victor is a graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching, University of Memphis, and Ambridge University. He is married to Kathleen, and they have three children and six grandchildren. He preaches for the Oceanside congregation in Atlantic Beach, FL.

Do False Teachers Exist? — Victor M. Eskew

Another way to word the title of this article is: “Does Satan Exist?” If Satan exists, then false teachers exist because he is the master of all false teachers. Jesus described him as “the father of lies” (John 8:44). We see his deceptive teachings influencing God’s creation from the very beginning. God had told Adam nad Eve that in the day that they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan boldly contradicted the words of the Creator. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:6). Sadly, the woman believed Satan rather than the Lord. The consequences were devastating, not only for Adam and Eve, but for all mankind.

Since that day, Satan has enlisted individuals into his service to lead men away from the truth of God’s Word. In the Old Testament, we read about the existence of false prophets. In 1 Kings 5:19-40, a man of God named Elijah stands in opposition to the false prophets of Baal and the false prophets of the grove. In the New Testament, Paul comes into contact with a false prophet by the name of Bar-Jesus (Elymas) in the isle of Paphos (Acts 13:6-11). False teachers of Judaism sought to lead many of the churches astray in the first century. Paul said that they taught “another” gospel, that is, another of a different kind (Gal. 1:6-9). Peter warned of false teachers who would enter privily into a congregation of the Lord’s people (2 Pet. 2:1-22). Jude wrote to this church again once the presence of the false teachers was made known and exhorted them to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1-25).

Many warnings are found in the New Testament about false teachers. Jesus warned about them in His sermon on the mount. He declared: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). In Philippians 3:2, Paul writes: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” In Colossians 2:8, he warned the church with these words: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Paul warned Timothy that seducing spirits and doctrines of devils would cause some to depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-4). Titus was told by the beloved Paul to reject all heretics after the first and second admonitions (Tit. 3:10). The writer of the Hebrew epistle exhorted his readers, saying: “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines…” (Heb. 13:9). Peter gave a very powerful warning against false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” John also warned about false teachers in his first epistle: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Do false teachers exist? Yes! Both history and the warnings of God’s inspired Word tell us that they do. In fact, in the words of John, “…many false prophets are gone out into the world.” The lies of false teachers are as numerous as the sand of the sea. Here is a brief list of some of the lies we hear today:

  • God does not exist.
  • Man is a product of humanistic evolution.
  • Man is his own god and his own savior.
  • Jesus is not the Son of God.
  • The Bible is not the Word of God.
  • Mankind cannot understand the Bible.
  • Baptism does not save.
  • Man cannot fall from grace.
  • Man can worship God as he pleases.
  • Immorality is acceptable to God (abortion, homosexuality, adultery, etc.)
  • All religions are accepted by God.
  • Jesus will not return.
  • Jesus will return to establish an earthly kingdom.
  • There is no judgment.
  • There is no heaven or hell.

This is just a short list of some of the false doctrines that are proclaimed today. It is impossible to list every false doctrine being taught. It would literally take hundreds of thousands of volumes to list every false doctrine that false teachers have proclaimed.

As we near the end of this article, let’s keep three things in mind. First, many will heed the words of false teachers. Peter affirmed this in 2 Peter 2:2: “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall evil be spoken of.”

Secondly, God has given us His precious truth which we can study (2 Tim. 2:15) and understand (Eph. 3:3-4) in order to protect us from false ways. The psalmist wrote, “Moreover by them is thy servant warned…” (Ps. 19:11), and, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104).

Thirdly, false teachers do not parade themselves as false teachers. In fact, they can disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). When they are found out, we must mark them and avoid them at all costs. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17-18).

Victor is a graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching, University of Memphis, and Ambridge University. He is married to Kathleen, and they have three children and six grandchildren. He preaches for the Oceanside congregation in Atlantic Beach, FL.