YE HAVE HEARD…BUT I SAY
Jesus “went up into a mountain”, and He taught His disciples. (Matthew 5:1, 2). One of His great lessons was one of contrast. In Matthew 5:23, Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say unto his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Raca indicates one who is empty-headed or without intellect. Read verses 24-26.
The same idea of what some had said, contrasted with what Jesus said, is seen in verses 27-32; 33-37; 38-42; and 43-48. It becomes crystal clear that hearers must pay attention to what is said by anyone. Hearers should be like the Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether the things were so.” (Acts 17:10-12; Cf. John 5:39). Isaiah warned Israel, “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20). Some today, as in the past, speak blasphemous words. (Acts 6:11, 13). They “pervert the gospel of Christ” to their own condemnation, and that of their hearers falsely led. (Galatians 1:6-9). They do not abide in the doctrine of Christ. (2 John 9-11).
Notice a few first century examples of some who taught error either ignorantly or intentionally. Some listening to men said Jesus was John the Baptist, Elias (Elijah), Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. (Matthew 16:13, 14; John 1). However, Peter, relying on revelation from God, declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Verses 15-17). Acts 15 is a record of some who had to be corrected for teaching that circumcision was still binding after the cross.
Today, there are numerous examples of people saying things that are contradictory to what God has said. Please take time to “search the scriptures”, “study”, “rightly dividing” or handling aright the word of truth (John 5:39; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15), that you may know and teach what God says. A few examples of what you may have heard man say, contrasted with what Jesus says, are given for your serious consideration. Please take time to study these matters carefully. Put into practice what you find. Seek a church which teaches the gospel of Christ, rather than the doctrines and commandments of men. (Matthew 15:7-9). Write the author to correct anything you find to be false. Each of us will one day stand before God to give an account of our lives. (2 Corinthians 5:10).
You may have heard that “There is no God.” “But there is a God in heaven.” (Daniel 2:28). “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1; 54:1).
You may have heard that all things came about as a result of blind, mindless evolution, due to natural selection, survival of the fittest, and such like. However, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth…And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1, 2). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3; Cf. Hebrews 1:1-3). Design demands designer! Look around you!
You may also have heard that there is no such thing as heaven, that the idea of such a place is pie in the sky or pipe dreams for weak and insecure people. However, John 14:1-6 assures us that heaven is real. 1 Peter 1:3-5, declares that the saved, because of the resurrection of Jesus, have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven….” Matthew 25:46 says the righteous will enjoy life eternal.
You may have heard that Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished:….” (John 19:30), and that there is nothing for anyone to do. Those who teach this also call upon the lost to believe. Why? If it was
finished in the sense they suggest, universalism would be true, and all would be saved. Faith would not even be necessary. Jesus did say, “It is finished:….”, meaning that He had completed His part of the Father’s will or plan for redeeming man. He also declared on the cross, almost in the same breath, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). However, these were not forgiven until they repented and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1, 38-41). They were then added to the church, the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18), the kingdom. (Colossians 1:13; Matthew 16:18). Read Romans 10:17; Acts 17:30, 31; Romans 10:9, 10; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Hebrews 5:8, 9.
You may have heard some proclaim that salvation is by faith only. However, a reading of Ephesians 2:8-10 shows salvation to be by grace through faith WHEN one walks in the works God has ordained. Read Hebrews 11 carefully, and notice that these were saved by faith WHEN they DID what God commanded. James 2:24 says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Read verses 14-26 carefully. Devils believe (Verse 19) and confess the Deity of Jesus. (Matthew 8:29). If one is saved by faith only, the devils and demons will be saved. Who believes that?
You may have heard someone teach that one cannot work or salvation would not be of grace, but that it would be owed one. Those on Pentecost were told, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:1, 40). This they did by obeying the message of those guided by the Holy Spirit when they were baptized. (Acts 2:4, 38, 41, 47). Paul told the Philippian saints (Philippians 1:1) to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” When we have done all commanded of us, we must realize that God saves us by His grace (unmerited favor) through the blood of His only begotten Son, and that we have simply done what was our duty, what He required. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 5:8; Luke 17:10).
You may have heard that honesty and sincerity are all that is required to be saved, that one may worship God in any way he chooses and believe anything he desires. Some have even declared that they can worship God on a Sunday in a boat or on a stump while fishing or hunting. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is;….” The Corinthians church (1 Corinthians 1:1, 2) was told, “When ye come together therefore into one place,….” (11:20, 33, 17, 18). Acts 20:7 says, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,….” Cf. 2 John 9-11; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 1:6-9. What one believes is most important!
You may have heard that names are unimportant. One man said the church could be called “the Jackrabbit church, and that would be OK.” Read the New Testament to see what the church was called, and be content to call it that. Jesus built the church. (Matthew 16:13-19; Acts 2). Jesus is the husband of the wife. (Ephesians 5:21-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2). The bride should proudly wear the name of her husband. That is why Paul said to the saints at Rome (Romans 1:1-7), “The churches of Christ salute you.” Jesus is honored when one wears His name. What serious and loyal bride desires to wear the name of one other than her husband? Study the gospel of Christ, and call yourself by the names you find therein. Cf. Acts 4:12. Is the name of the church you attend in the scriptures?
You have heard by many that mechanical instruments of music are acceptable in worship to God. Some even cite the usage in Old Testament worship as proof of such. Eg. Psalm 150. However, Acts 17:30, 31 says, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at;….” W. E. Vines commented, “i.e. God bore with them without interposing by way of punishment, though the debasing tendencies of idolatry necessarily developed themselves.” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Volume III, page 152). Consider Amos 6:1-5, “Woe unto them…That chant to the sound of the vial, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David.” If instruments of music are acceptable, so are the things in verses 1-4!
You may have heard the churches of Christ called a cult. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each church is autonomous, or self-governing. Churches are not bound by synods, councils, conventions, man-made creeds, disciplines, church manuals, catechisms, or any other such thing or organization that would require them to follow the doctrines and commandments of men. Each church is overseen by two or more elders who rule in harmony with and under the chief Shepherd. (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Churches of Christ seek for unity in matters of faith (John 17:11, 20-23; 1 Corinthians 1:10), liberty in matters of opinion (1 Corinthians 8), and love in and for all. (Matthew 5:43-48; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Whatever you may have heard about churches of Christ. Following is a partial description of the church of the New Testament. Those who follow the New Testament will be faithful to teach and do as the word of God commands, teaching:
• There is a God, Lord, Jehovah, the Father. (Daniel 2:28; Psalm 83:13-18; John 17:1). Jesus is also God or Deity. (John 1:1-3; John 20:28).
• Holy Spirit is God or Deity. (Acts 5:3, 4). The Triune (Father, Son, Spirit) created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1-3). Jesus left heaven, emptying Himself, being manifested in the flesh. (Philippians 2:5-12; 1 Timothy 3:16).
• Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:16-25; Luke 2:8-20).
• He came to do His Father’s will (John 4:34), which He did in life (John 9:4; Matthew thru John) and death. (John 19:30).
• Jesus willingly poured out His precious blood (John 19:34) as of a lamb without spot for the sins of the world (1 Peter 1:19), and to purchase the church (Acts 20:28), which God purposed before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 3:10, 11).
• Jesus is the Head and Savior of His Church. (Ephesians 5:23).
• Jesus guides His church by His word (Psalm 119:105), under the oversight of elders. (Acts 20:28).
• The elders are assisted by deacons. (Acts 6:1-6; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13).
• Evangelist are a part of God’s church, preaching His word. (Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:2).
• The church, called a flock (Acts 20:28), is made up of members, who, like all others in the kingdom, are to deny sin, living righteously. (Titus 2:11, 12; Romans 6).
• The mission of the church is to save souls. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16).
• Jesus was born and called “Emmanuel…God with us.” (Matthew 1:21, 23).
• Luke 2:11 says, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
• Today, He is the Savior of all who will obey Him. (1 Timothy 1:15).
• To be saved and enter the church one must do the following: Believe in God and Jesus (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6); Repent of sin (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30, 31); Confess Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 10:32, 33; Acts 8:37); and be buried in water baptism (Acts 8:38, 39; Romans 6:1-5) to enter Christ (Galatians 3:26, 27) and the church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:41, 47), to be saved. (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).
• Faithfulness is then to be the way of life. (Mark 13:13; Revelation 2:10).
• This will be in part due to proper worship, that is, Acts 2:42, continuing stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (gospel preaching), fellowship (giving according to one’s prosperity), breaking of bread (Lord’s supper), prayers, and singing, unaccompanied by mechanical instruments of music. (Matthew 26:30; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; and James 5:13).
• One day Jesus “shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:1). “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and all power.” (1 Corinthians 15:24).
• “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster.” (Galatians 3:24, 25, 16-19; Romans 7:1-4; 2 Corinthians 3; Hebrews 8:6-13).
Read Ephesians 4:1-7, “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 all, and through all, and in you all.”
Please contact us for further comment, study, or if you have questions. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:….” (Isaiah 1:18).