The church at the center of God’s salvation

Last week, I wrote, “The church of God is at the center of God’s salvation in every way.” What do I mean by that? What is the relationship of the church to salvation?

The saved are added to the church

Nobody joins the church of God. You can join a denomination, but you can’t join the body of Christ (which says a lot about what a denomination is and is not). This is the work of God, just as it is his work to cleanse from sin when we are immersed in water. That first moment of the gospel makes clear what the process is: Continue reading “The church at the center of God’s salvation”

Three reasons to watch and warn

The church is precious. Oh, I’m not talking about human divisions and denominations, but the one, true church of God established by Jesus Christ. Even the denominationalists diminish the importance of their divisions, separating them (and properly so) from the process of salvation, and then schizophrenically talk them up and exalt them. But the church of God is at the center of God’s salvation in every way.

What the apostle Paul had to say to the Ephesian elders applies generally to all Christians, as far as watching against false teachers, because of the price paid for the church: Continue reading “Three reasons to watch and warn”

The household of God

Communication is wonderful as well as a bit tricky. Our understanding of what others communicate is partially shaped by our experiences and prior knowledge.

So, when Paul described the church as being the household of God what do we understand? Perhaps what comes to our minds revolves around our relationship with other Christians as brothers and sisters. Yes, we are all in this together.

Does anything else come to mind? Would someone in the first century comprehend additional nuances? Probably yes. Continue reading “The household of God”

The consequences of indecision

There is a new colony of bees in the Berglund backyard. We have dubbed it the “Republic,” referencing Ben Franklin’s warning, “If you can keep it.” 

Yes, we are keeping bees, or at least making the attempt. The honey has been minimal so far, but one our goals has been to help save the declining honeybee population. 

So when the call came in on the morning of the Fourth of July that there was a swarm of bees a few miles north of us, we moved quickly to rescue them.  Continue reading “The consequences of indecision”

A conversation with my mother before her death

By Glenda Williams — I recently found a note I had written about mother. She lived with us ten years before her death, and during that time I tried to keep records of things she said. This note pulled at my heart strings once again.

Mother woke me at 12:55 a.m. on that date. She hugged me close and asked, “Will you be all right without me?” Continue reading “A conversation with my mother before her death”

How do I choose a church?

By Johnny O. Trail — One radio station in Nashville does nothing but talk radio.  As an avid listener to talk radio, I am always interested in the questions and comments of those who call in to the radio station.  On one show in particular, the host deals with e-mails that are sent in by listeners.  Last week, one e-mail in particular caught my attention.  The lady who sent the e-mail asked the host, “How do I choose a church?”

The host then gave her some suggestions for finding a church to suit her needs.  He proceeded to tell her to look at churches as communities and that she simply needed to find one that had people who most met her needs for friendship. Continue reading “How do I choose a church?”

Critical times

“So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12:5 NASB).

Nothing focuses our attention more surely than emergencies. Whether they are global, national, local or merely personal, when we are confronted with great need or danger, we tend to give our complete efforts and energies towards meeting and overcoming whatever the challenge is that we face. Counselors term this approach “Crisis resolution.”

Crisis itself may be a little tricky to define and identify. Several years ago I was given this definition of the term. A speaker said, “You are diagnosed with serious illness; that is not a crisis. You go into depression because of the diagnosis – now that is a true crisis.” In other words, crisis says more about one’s reaction to a situation than it does about the situation. Continue reading “Critical times”

A beautiful picture of worship

Meeting together is a part of who we are as Christians. Church means assembly or meeting. Without the physical assembly of saints, we are not church.

The assembly appears everywhere in the New Testament. One commentator describes some of the elements of the church’s worship in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, in his comments on chapter 4, verses 7-18: Continue reading “A beautiful picture of worship”

Entering into Christ, living in Christ

Each person enters into Christ, by baptism, individually. People can even be immersed at the same time, as happened with three thousand souls at the beginning of the church in Acts 2, but the decision is personal. No one can decide for anyone else.

While we enter into Christ individually, we live in Christ as a community, as a family. Life in Christ does not exist outside of a vigorous participation with his people. Continue reading “Entering into Christ, living in Christ”

Wang and I — Helping one another

Wang, a Chinese woman from Nanning, was surprised when a bus seat was offered her, with smiles from everyone around her. Someone finally showed her the note taped to her back: “Please take care of this pregnant lady.”

Wang recognized the handwriting of her husband, who must have stuck it to her back before she left home.

We in Christ show the same care for one another. We seek to ease the burdens of those weighed down by their cares and struggles. Continue reading “Wang and I — Helping one another”