Aug 11

IS THERE A PLAN OF SALVATION? (1)

The title of this article may seem unnecessary and a question that is even strange, to most of us. However, it is a question that is getting a lot of attention these days. The first thing that needs attention, as one addresses the question: “What is meant by the words in the question.” When one understands the meaning of the words, a giant step has been taken in being able to answer the question. Therefore, this we shall do!
The first word to be studied is the last word in the question: “salvation.” Here are a few questions: 1) Is this salvation from past sins? 2) Is this salvation once and for all, as in “once saved always saved”? and 3) Is the salvation in the question a first step in a larger salvation? Now, let us look at each of these three questions.
First,” Is it salvation from past sins?” That a person who is lost, because of personal sins committed, needs forgiven; thus, salvation from past sins committed. This presupposes that such a one has committed sin. From out of the Old Testament comes this answer: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezel. 18:20). There are some who teach, “inherited sin,” but Ezekiel removes such teaching and would call such, false! However, he also makes it crystal clear, that the person who does sin shall die, as in spiritual separation from God! Paul pointed out: “For the wages of sin is death. ,,,” (Rom. 6:23). A separation from God! Paul would also tell us: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Here the apostle is using the word “all” in referring to both the Jew and the Gentile in the language of the day, he has summed up all people. Therefore, the person who has reached a time in life, that he understands the difference between right and wrong, at some point he will commit sin. It is necessary to know what sin is; therefore, John will answer: “All unrighteousness is sin: …” (1 John 5:17). Thus, we need to know what is “righteousness?” Once more the Old Testament will answer: “… for all thy (God, frw) commandments are righteousness” (119:172). Then, Paul would inform us when writing of the gospel of Christ, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed …” (Rom. 1:16-17). Sin is a transgression of the commandments of God; therefore, the person who has transgressed the commandment of God, has sinned and needs forgiveness, he needs salvation from sins commented! There is such a thing as “salvation” from past sins!
Second, is this salvation once and for all, as in once saved always saved?” Here recalling the words of the prophet, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” When one is forgiven, saved from past sins, does this put him in an eternal state of “salvation?” Let John answer: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Albert Barnes has well stated the case: “… the apostle affirms that it is a great elementary truth, which on no pretense is to be denied, that we are all sinners (That we have sinned, even after being forgiven of past sins. Understanding that there is a difference between the being “sinners,” ones who practiced sin and one having committed sin! FRW). We are at all times, and in all circumstances, to admit the painful and humiliating truth that we are transgressors of the law of God, and that we need, even in our best services, the cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ.” The New Testament does not teach, “Once saved always saved!” Therefore, even after having obeyed the gospel, having been forgiven of past sins, we need forgiveness of the sins that we commit from time to time! Please note that John did not write, “If we say that we had not sinned”, but he wrote: “have no sin!” As in present tense.
Third, “Is the salvation in the question a first step in a larger salvation?” Yes! Here is where some fail in their understanding. Being saved from past sins, which takes place at the end of: 1) having heard the gospel of Christ, 2 believing the gospel of Christ, 3) repenting of our sins, having a change of mind about a life of sin, 4) in confessing that Jesus is Lord, we are making a vow to live a life where Jesus is our Lord, and 5) we arise and get ourselves baptized, with a view of to having our sins forgiven. In so doing we have: “… wash (washed, frw) away our sins, calling on the name of the Lord!” (Acts 22;16).
Having covered sin both past and present, though briefly, we are able to see that the word “salvation” is used while referring to the forgiveness of past sins! But, having also learned, that we may commit sin after having been saved from past sins, there is a second view to salvation. Therefore, the plan of salvation is larger than the forgiveness of past sins!

Frank R. Williams

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Aug 04

THE WORKINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (7)

After thinking about the subject of the last six articles, number six was to be the last one, it has been determined that there is a need for the one more article. Therefore, the seventh article is here given. This article will address the power of the kingdom of Christ in her workings! We have here turned the wording of the subject backward. Starting with the King of the kingdom, “the King of kings and the Lord of lords,” is sitting on his throne in the castle. With him are his knights, the “ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20), who are the apostles of Christ! The castle is the seat of authority and the constitution of the kingdom is the “law of Christ,” (Gal. 6:2 and 1 Cor. 9:21) or “the teaching of Christ” (2 John 9).
The ruling preamble to the kingdom of Christ is stated by Jesus when he was asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?” (Mark 12:28). There is no place in the kingdom of Christ, for any who do not start with Jesus’ answer: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). No one can be a member of the kingdom of Christ, unless he has put God first in his love, but this is also a lifetime commandment. There is no place where it stops; for if one stops loving “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind, and with all thy strength,” he is at the “door” of continual sin. As John wrote about “abiding in the teaching of Christ,” “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 9). This is the first “step,” if you will, in preparing to enter the kingdom of Christ! The first commandment, if you will listen and hear, is the mark of the kingdom of Christ, it is the character, the nature, of the kingdom of Christ! There has not been enough emphasis on this subject, in our teaching/preaching for many years! The reason for this neglect may be stated, “That it requires too much on the one we are trying to convert, to teach such! The “wisdom of men,” keeps telling us, that it takes too much time to try to teach a person whom we perceive as a “good” prospect that he must “love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength!” It is simply too taxing to the mind/heart of the person we are trying to convert! Nevertheless, Jesus said it is the first commandment!
Let us go back and look at the kingdom of Christ! We have the castle area, wherein abides Christ, the king, and his “knights” the apostles of Christ. It is from the castle that all authority flows out to the “villages” (the congregations). What power there is, when each “village” is filled with a mind/hearts that have been taught from the beginning, that they must love God first. You see, this being the nature of the kingdom, as Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and John wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). There is no commandment given to the villages, to each member of a village, that is “grievous!” The Greek word used by John is, “barus,” and it means: “heavy in weight;” then, “metaphorically 2a) burdensome 2b) severe, stern 2c) weighty.” There is no room for crying out, the commandments of Christ, set forth in his teaching are just too hard, to be taught to one who might otherwise be a “good” convert! Just how can we teach this “good” perceived that he/she must love God first? If we do so, he/she will never obey the gospel! Here is a thought question: “How can one obey the gospel who does not love God?” For those who do obey the gospel but find themselves sinning, God has a plan for those times when we come up short, when we miss the mark: “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). What a kingdom is the kingdom of Christ!!
The nature, the character, of the kingdom of Christ is so important to our having a correct understanding of it! If we fail here, nothing else can be right! How can an honest person, read these words, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8); and fail to love God? Is it possible to believe these words, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6); and not believe that our first act in having faith, is that God will reward us, without loving God, “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength?” NO!
Oh, the beauty of the kingdom of Christ! Is there a place within it, that beauty does not exist? NO! Not when each “village” has started and continues to love God, to love God first, to love God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength!” Is this the kingdom you are working in? Is this the kingdom that you our adding the beauty of your life to? Are you really adding beauty to the kingdom of Christ?

Frank R. Williams

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Jul 28

THE WORKINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (6)

It would be so wrong to conclude this six-part series of articles without looking at “The workings of the kingdom of Christ” and the overview of the kingdom of Christ. Meaning that it is one! No matter the number of the “villages,” great or small, there is to be fellowship among them. There is power in fellowship, that cannot be found otherwise.
Understanding that each “village” is still autonomous, meaning that under the authority of Christ it has revealed this order in the New Testament, as the record of the churches is laid out before us in “The Acts of the Apostles” and the letters to the churches. There is not one hint that the overseers of one “village” was ever over another. Today, in some places we are in danger of violating this truth! Power is a great temptation in that sometimes “small” men desire more power! Then, in some “villages” there are men appointed to serve as overseers who are too little for the job! Their knowledge of “the teaching of Christ” is so small that it would fit in a “kids” boot. However, the kingdom of Christ works, as designed by God, as smoothly as a water wheel works, as the water is running over it. Thus, the kingdom works in each “village,” small or large so long as godly men, men with piety toward God, feed upon the all sufficient word of God, as Paul expounded: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Not only is the one kingdom of Christ, completely, or “thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” as a whole; so is each “village,” and each individual Christian when obeying “the teaching of Christ!”
Just a few words about the two words, “thoroughly furnished,” which is in the Greek text one word. It is the Greek “exartizo” and Thayer says: “1) to complete, finish 1a) to furnish perfectly.” The idea being that there is nothing lacking, as the “All scripture,” was “given by inspiration of God;” it has God as the author, the one who “breathed in” (as in breathing into the minds of those who spoke and wrote) (or breathed out as in God breath out the words) as in that the Holy Spirit put the words into the mind, then, the tongue and pen, of the speakers and writers! It might be said, that God looked upon the completed word of revelation and said: “It was very good!” Though men scheme, as they look for ways they think would improve the kingdom. They have forgotten that the anointed Lord sits upon the one throne, his throne of his kingdom! It must be understood that the kingdom of Christ is not worldly, and it cannot out “worldly the world!” The mechanical instruments of music cannot improve upon what God has authorized, no matter how sweet it may sound to the worldly minded! Games and sports will never replace the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ!
In this great fellowship, which flows through the spiritual nature of the kingdom into each “village,” must be guarded at all cost! Thus, the army of Christ is “thoroughly furnished,” from head to foot (Eph. 6:13-18). Not only are the “villages” fully armed with the spiritual armaments to defeat the enemy from outside the kingdom of Christ, but also from within! Those who are marching to a different drummer, who are tired of efforts to grow the “villages” by the teaching of the gospel of Christ, which is God’s power unto salvation, would like to use (Rom. 1:16). Mind you, no matter what men may put forth, it has no power to save anyone! There are some who no longer even give the invitation at the end of a sermon, even though they do not have the power to know the mind and the need of those seated before him; these so-called preachers think it is old fashioned, just a “tradition” and out of touch with modern man. But Jesus would have all to know: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). The invitation should be so clearly stated that any one, no matter his spiritual state, would feel free to come forward and answer the gospel call. Let the “villages” grow as the spiritually dead, show their willingness to humble themselves as they approach the throne of the “King of kings and the Lord of lords,” with an attitude of, “Here am I Lord, unworthy to look upon thy face.”
The kingdom of Christ is the “highway” seen by the prophet Isaiah, when he saw: “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35:8-10). There we have a most beautiful view of the kingdom of Christ! It is a “highway,” it is “The way of holiness,” and the “unclean shall not pass over it,” as only those who have obeyed the gospel may walk upon the highway! It is only for “the wayfaring men, though fools,” in that only those who are willing to say, as did Jeremiah: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
Friends, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, please dust the “worldliness” off your feet, and walk with “the redeemed,” “and the ransomed of the LORD” and “come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy” upon your head! In the words of Paul, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10).

Frank R. Williams

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Jul 21

THE WORKINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (5)

It is the nature of any kingdom to work! The individual members of the kingdom have personal responsibilities of their own; like taking care of their families and keeping an eye on their neighbors to see that they are not suffering. Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” is one of the best, if not the best, teaching on helping those that they come across in their daily lives.
It is good that we read this parable and not just refer to it; therefore, the parable: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:30-36). Jesus’ heart wrenching question at the end of the parable still carries the same weight today as when it was first asked: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” To the Jews, as they detested the Samaritans, and here Jesus hit their heart with a spiritual sword! As it was the despised Samaritan who rendered compassion to the “wounded” man. Not only did he aid the man who had been left “half dead” by a priest who passed by on the other side;” then, “likewise a Levite,” “passed by on the other side;” but it was the despised Samaritan who “had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” How this must have reached the heart of the questioner. Who said: “willing to justify himself, questioned Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). But, now notice what the Samaritan did to the “half dead” man; this man, the “Good Samaritan,” “set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee” (Luke 10:34-35). Here, in the heart of the detested Samaritan, we have found what must be the nature of each “village” of the kingdom of Christ!
You see, somethings are always true and here is one such! The question: “who is my neighbour?” Should never be asked again! The apostle Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). This applies to both the individual and the “village.” As each individual member of the “village” is able to handle the need, let it be so; however, if the need is larger than the individual can take care of, it should be brought to the attention of the “overseers.” Let God receive the glory in both responses! Notice if you will, Paul’s words: “especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Which is tempered with this truth: “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” (2 Thess. 3:12). Each member of the “village” has responsibilities, as they have abilities! The King never puts responsibilities upon any member, that the member is unable to do, but the King does hold each member with the responsibility(ies) that the member has; great or small! Every member can do something!
It does not have to be like the “Good Smartian” but something so simple as to send a card to those who are sick, one who is downhearted, or those who are shut-in! Just think, how uplifting and inspiring, it would be for a non-member to open their mailbox and to find a card from you! There is tucked away in Paul’s words to Timothy, as he wrote how to handle the widows and the widows indeed, these simple words: “let not the church be charged” (1 Tim. 5:16). The point being that family members must take care of their own and not look to the church. Finally, more of Paul’s words: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). The first look for help is not to the “village” but the family members!
Yes, there is personal, family, and “village” responsibilities toward those in need! As I have reached the conclusion to the next to last short series of articles on, “The working of the kingdom of Christ,” I trust that you can see, as it might have been in the first century, a physical kingdom, with a king, who is sitting upon his throne, and out before him he can see the villages that make up his kingdom. Transfer this now to the spiritual kingdom of Christ and see her at work through the actions of each “village!” Each “village” having been charged by the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” with her fulness of her own work.

Frank R. Williams

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Jul 14

THE WORKINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (4)

Having studied in article number three in this series, that the kingdom of Christ does work, and that worship is the first act that one who has been saved should do; we now move on to a study of just how a kingdom, without any early headquarters, which nevertheless has work to do, can do them! It is here admitted that more needs to be written about authorized worship, we shall return to this subject as we move though the articles.
It is important, as a matter of fact, it is imperative, that we have some conception of how the kingdom of Christ works! While keeping in mind that the King of the kingdom is in heaven at the right hand of God. As all authority rest in him, but it is in written form, the New Testament sealed in his own blood! If we can view the kingdom as a series of small villages, which are found round the globe, and each one being autonomous, meaning each is under local leadership, who are called “elders,” “pastors,” “bishops” and “overseers.” It is necessary that we know a little about each of these words. First, the term “elders” which refers to age and wisdom; second, the word “bishops” is an incorrect translation, as it should be translated “overseers.” It is the Greek word, “episkopos” and means: “1) an overseer 1a) a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent” (Thayer). Third, the word “pastors” should have been translated “shepherds,” being the Greek “poimen;” as Thayer gives this: “1) a herdsman, especially a shepherd.” The word does not refer to preachers as it is so often used today! These “shepherds” watch out for the “sheep,” so the “eternal purpose” of God may be done; as Paul wrote: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11). First, just here, may it be noted that Paul, by inspiration, uses the singular “church!” It is not the responsibility of one local church, “village,” to fulfil this text! It is the responsibility of the whole kingdom of Christ to fulfil the requirements of this text! Second, it must be noted that the words: elders, shepherds, and overseers, are used in the plural, meaning that no “village” (local church) is ever overseen by one elder, shepherd, or overseer but in each “village” there are plural, overseers!
With this before us, we are prepared to take up the workings of the kingdom of Christ, which shall be done in the upcoming articles, starting with this one. However, allow me to ask: When you think of the kingdom of Christ, just what is her first work? The first work of the “village” is to worship her God! Throughout the history of human kind, there is a requirement to worship God! In the New Testament, the authority of Christ, God must be worshipped “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). This sounds good to most people but just what is included in such worship? First, let us address the word “spirit.” Keeping in mind that the kingdom is within us, not some building, no matter how eloquent it may be, no matter if it is located on the highest hill or the deepest valley. Therefore, all worship must come from within us! Our “spirit” must be humble, contrite, as in bowing before the great “I Am!” Attention is here called to a word used by Paul as he addresses the Lord’s Supper, he wrote: “not discerning.” Every act of worship must be done “in spirit” discerning each act, the purpose of it. Most of us have our favorite songs, such as: “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be?” How could one sing the words of this song and not be discerning heaven? If it is done without “discerning,” then it is vain!
Second, Jesus’ words “in truth.” Just what is “truth” as it relates to worship? Is it somehow not the truth of which Jesus spoke: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Or is there another truth? Is there something not within “the teaching of Christ” that may be called truth? How about the words of Paul to Timothy: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:1-12). Is there a truth not in “the word” of which Paul writes? If so, just where is it located? Do we find any of the churches in “The Act of the Apostles” or in any of the epistles doing it? Keep in mind, that the word of inspiration, as in breath by God, has everything: “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17). Therefore, if it is not in “the word,” it is simply not authorized and is outside “the teaching of Christ!” If outside “the teaching of Christ,” the person doing it has no fellowship with God or Christ! (2 John 9). Can you think of anything worse? “God forbid!”
The only things we find “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) doing in the assemble of worship are: 1st, singing (Col. 3:16); 2nd, giving “as God hath prospered him,” while remembering: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7); 3rd, the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:21-29); 4th, praying, as Paul wrote: “… giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17); and 5th, teaching that all may be edified, once more as Paul wrote: “Let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Cor. 14:26). Finally, these words must be remembered: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:4).
Here we need to visualize each “village” in the kingdom of Christ all worshipping, “upon the first day of the week” (Acts 2:42 and Acts 20:7). Each one doing the same thing, as nothing else is found in the authority of “the King of kings and Lord of lords!”

Frank R. Williams

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Jul 07

THE WORKINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (3)

The workings of the kingdom of Christ are central to understanding the kingdom of Christ. Understooding that the kingdom is spiritual and not physical, and having briefly looked at the nature of, the authority and the organization of the kingdom of Christ, it is time to examine how this great kingdom works, as it is found around the earth!
A few questions might be helpful; with one king who is in heaven; how can a spiritual kingdom possibly work? How can this spiritual kingdom work without any worldly organization as in no hierarchy to direct it? Here is another question to help our thoughts: “Where is the headquarters for the kingdom of Christ?” It is freely admitted that most all denominational churches have state and national organizations, and a national headquarters, and this is how they work. The kingdom of Christ, has but one headquarters and it is in heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. However, just what are the works and how do they work in this spiritual kingdom of which we write? If you should have time, you might try and answer each of the questions in written form! Just write down the questions and answer them; then, move on to the next one!
Take just a moment to answer this question: What is the first “work” of the kingdom of Christ? It is somewhat hard to think of it as a “work” but we are hard pressed to find another word; therefore, we will use the word “work!” As you enter the kingdom of Christ, having trusted the word of God, and having obeyed the gospel of Christ; thus, you were added, translated into the kingdom; other than rejoicing over being saved; just what was upon your mind? Did it ever occur to you that God should be worshipped, as your first act as a child of God; as you express your gladness in being saved? If not, you have missed a primary joy, which can only be expressed in worship of God! Some may be asking, “Why is this so natural?”
It is understood that you may not have given much, if any, thought to this question, but now you are called upon to think! What is the most natural thing for a saved person to do? It will help our study, if we approach our question with what Paul wrote: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). We have read and heard these words many, many times before, but did we get the fulness of the words? I think it very important that we look more closely at some of the words in this text, which are somewhat over looked by some. First, the word “for,” noticing that the verse starts with this word; as it stands before the words “by grace.” This little Greek word is very powerful. It is the Greek “gar” which is: “A primary particle; properly assigning a reason (used in argument, explanation or intensification” (Strong). Well, just what is the reason, that explains, which intensifies, what Paul wrote, “by grace are ye saved through faith?” The answer is found in verse seven: “That in the ages to come he (God, frw) might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. The reason being, by grace are ye saved through faith; …” Did you get that? The reason for God’s salvation “by grace through faith” is that he is showing “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” When we are saved “by grace through faith,” we are experiencing God’s “grace in his kindness to us through Christ Jesus.” It is necessary that we keep in mind and in our thoughts, it is “to us through Christ Jesus!”
But, this is not all that we need to notice in Paul’s words. In the King James Version, we have “through faith.” The Greek Majority text has, “through the faith,” and this changes the general view of this text. The general view of this verse is that we have two parts related to our being saved: 1) God’s part, “grace” and 2) our part, our personal faith. However, if we use the diffiant article “the” before the word “faith,” it makes the words “and that not of yourselves” even more meaningful to us! As neither “grace” nor “the faith” is of man but of God! Therefore, being saved, “it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast!” Our salvation is not of ourselves! We had nothing to do with it; that is the means of our salvation! This does not negate, that man is responsible for “obeying the gospel” for all who do not “obey the gospel” are going to suffer what is beyond our comprehension! When Paul wrote of the coming of the Lord, he wrote: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). The person who would tell you, that there is nothing that you must do to be saved is misleading themselves and you! Before leaving this text, it is also necessary that we notice another little word, this time, is the Greek word “ou” which is also a very powerful word. Strong says it is: “A primary word; the absolutely negative adverb.” A little more from Strong about this word: “objectively negates a statement,” “ruling it out as fact.” Just what is Paul “ruling out as fact” as an “objective negative,” in his use of the Greek word “ou”? Paul wrote: “Not, absolutely not of works, objectively not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:9). Wherein is man able to “boast” in his salvation, when it is “by grace and the faith,” which are both of God and not of man? Not one man had anything to do with it! All boasting is out!!
Does anyone think that he has really done some great thing of his own, when he obeys the gospel? Or should he immediately worship God? He should fall upon his face before the great “I am!” And this is the first act that a saved person should do! Did you or do you understand that part of our worship is expressing our gratitude for our salvation which came by God through Christ?

Frank R. Williams

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Jun 30

THE WORKINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (2)

What is the nature of the kingdom of Christ? Without a moment’s thought, it can be said that the nature of the kingdom of Christ is spiritual and not worldly. Jesus made this very clear, when speaking to Pilate: “My kingdom is not (The Greek, ou, the absolutely negative, frw) of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). The kingdom of Christ, as Paul wrote: “For we wrestle not (The Greek, ou, the absolutely negative, frw) against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). With these two negative statements, the subject of the nature of the kingdom of Christ is settled; as in established! It is spiritual!
So, what does this have to do with our subject? It has everything to do with the nature of the kingdom of Christ, in how it must be examined; how it is to be looked at! You see, the kingdom is within you: the faithful child of God. Jesus said: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). If the kingdom is within us, and it is, just where is it in us? Is it in our foot, the hand; no, it is in the heart! By way of it’s nature, the kingdom of Christ, could not be anywhere else! Jeremiah wrote, which is quoted in the letter to the Hebrew Christians: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8: 10-12). Notice, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts!” Thus, with the law so goes the kingdom of Christ! To help with our understanding of this matter, looking at America, is it a land or a people? As the nature of America, it is both; but with the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom must be within the heart/mind of each of us!
Nevertheless, it will help us to view the kingdom of Christ in a physical manner, only to see it in her spiritual nature. The apostle Paul did this very thing: “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Cor. 12:14-18). Therefore, it is within the bonds of inspiration to us physical things to better understand the spiritual. With this in mind, we shall go about understanding the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ through physical things.
It is important that we have some conception of how the kingdom of Christ works! If we can view the kingdom as a series of small villages, which are autonomous, meaning each is under local leadership, who are called “elders,” “pastors,” “bishops” and “overseers;” the term “elders” referring to age and wisdom; the word “bishops” is an incorrect translation, as it should be translated “overseers.” It is the Greek word, “episkopos” and means: “1) an overseer 1a) a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent” (Thayer). Also, the word “pastors” should have been translated “shepherds,” being the Greek “poimen” as Thayer gives this: “1) a herdsman, especially a shepherd.” The word does not refer to preachers as it so often is used today! These “shepherds” watch out for the “sheep,” as the “eternal purpose” of God is being done; as Paul wrote: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11). It must be noted that the words: elders, shepherds, and overseers, are used in the plural, meaning that no “village” is every overseen by one man!
These leaders are not without qualifications. Most of these qualifications are found in 1 Timothy, as Paul wrote: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (1 Tim. 3:1), then, he continues with the qualities of the men who are to serve. Space will not allow a study of each qualification here.
With this before us, we are prepared to take up the workings of the kingdom of Christ, which will be done in the upcoming articles. However, allow me to ask: When you think of the kingdom of Christ, just what is her first work? This question shall be answered in the next article.

Frank R. Williams

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Jun 23

THE WORKINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (1)

After thinking about the subject, “The Kingdom of Christ,” it was determined that more articles should be written on a somewhat different view of the “the kingdom of Christ. Therefore, a few articles will be written with the view of showing how the kingdom works. Seeing the parts, is necessary, but the overall view is also necessary! With this, we shall start.
The first part is the kingship of Jesus Christ, “God’s dear Son!” Paul made it clear that “God’s dear Son” had a kingdom; therefore, he is also king of his kingdom: God “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). It is also truth that if we are in the kingdom of Christ, we have been “translated” into the kingdom of Christ and out of the domain of Satan. The Greek here used by Paul, is “methistemi/methistano,” which means: “1) to transpose, transfer, remove from one place to another” (Thayer). If a person has not been “removed from one place: “the power of darkness,” into another place: “the kingdom of God’s dear Son;” then, this person has no relationship with Christ and continues to be lost! The only people who will be taken up into heaven, at the return of “God’s dear Son,” are those who are in “the kingdom of God’s dear Son!” As Paul wrote: “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 power” (1 Cor. 1:24). This means, to be saved is to be a citizen of “the kingdom of God’s dear Son” and he who has not surrendered to the will of God through Christ is not saved!
The first view of “the kingdom of Christ” starts in heaven, at “the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3); as this is where the “King of kings and the Lord of lords” is seated upon his throne! From here he looks upon all his kingdom; it is from here that, he not only serves as King but also high priest over his kingdom. It is with great joy that we look upon the high priest: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” The “high priest” acts in behalf of his citizens: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16). No earthy kingdom ever had such a King who was also the high priest of his kingdom!
Second, as King Jesus, the anointed, has absolute authority; as he said to the eleven just before he departed this earth: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). Notice that his power is “in heaven and in earth!” His actions are according the law of the kingdom, as they were revealed by his “ambassadors,” (2 Cor. 5:20) the apostles of Christ! His law is unlike any other law, as it has within it, “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5), “the spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9), and “the love of Christ” (Rom. 8:35). It also has within it: as Jesus said while introducing the Lord’s Supper, “this is my blood of the New Testament” (Matt. 26:28), “the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16), “the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), and “the teaching (doctrine) of Christ” (2 John 9). The law is complete and final, Jude wrote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). It was once for all time delivered, therefore, it has no additions and no takeaways! It was perfect then, and now!
There are warnings about changing the word of God! The Pharisees did it by adding, and even making their traditions above the word of God. Here is Jesus addressing the subject. He was asked: “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread” (Matt. 15:2). It does not even take must study to see the problem with these words; it is only five words: “the tradition of the elders!” What was Jesus’ response? He said: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (verse 3). Clearly, their “tradition” transgressed the commandment of God! The Greek word use here is “parabaino” and means: “to go contrary to, that is, violate a command” (Strong). Thayer says: “1) to go by the side of 2) to go past or pass over without touching a thing.” The “traditions” of men neither touch any part of the commandments of God, top, bottom, or either side! Interesting that this is the same Greek word used by the apostle John, when he wrote: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). To step beyond “the teaching of Christ” is to never touch it. This is much like Paul’s words to the Galatins: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-7). With Jesus, John, and Paul, we should understand, that anything not the word of God, call it what you might, it does not touch “the teaching of Christ!” And it has no, I repeat, it has no salvation in it!
Finally, just here, there are some today, who appear to think that they have the right to add to “the teaching of Christ.” They think, the historical record of Luke has no authority in it. Therefore, they are not bound by the account of action of the approved record of the apostles in the early church.

Frank R. Williams

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Jun 16

Attitudes in the Stands That Should Be in the Pews

It’s football season again—high school, college, and professional football teams all over the nation are [continuing] their yearly quest for a championship. This football season, millions of fans will cheer for their teams. Those who fill the stands possess certain attitudes that are needed in the hearts of those who fill the pews.
Knowing the Facts: Fans buy magazines, go online, and do the research to get all the info on their team and opponents. They know their team’s stats, what years they won championships, what numbers are on the jerseys of their favorite players, what their team is ranked in the polls—all kinds of information! Why? Because they love the sport!
If we love the Lord, there are many things we should know. Just as a football fan can tell you all about his favorite players, we should be able to tell people about the men and women of the Bible. We should know all about Job, Esther, Paul, Peter, Matthew, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel, and many more—but especially Jesus.
Just as a football fan knows the rules of the game, we should know the rules of Christ-ianity. We should be able to give the plan of salvation (1 Pet. 3:15). We should be able to tell someone how to worship in spirit and in truth. We should be able to tell someone how to live faithfully and we should know the penalties for breaking the rules (Ro. 6:23; 1 Jn. 3:4).
Instead of watching sports most of the day on a Saturday, how many chapters of the Bible could have been read during the duration of just one football game? The average college football game lasts “about 3 hours” (Answers.com), and the average adult reads between 200 and 300 words per minute (wpm). Those who enjoy reading typically read above 400 wpm. Many folks read at speeds above 800 wpm with excellent comprehension.
Therefore, during the time it would have taken to watch one football game, at an aver-age rate of 250 words per minute, the sports fan could have read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st Thessalonians, 2nd Thessalonians, 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1st Peter, 2nd Peter, 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, and Jude, and still have over 35 minutes remaining! (based on the number of words per book; biblebelievers.com). That would be 76 chapters of God’s Word, and he would still have time to include 1st Corinthians, for a total of 92 chapters in three hours! That’s 19 out of the 27 books in the New Testament! Granted, one may read more slowly and want to spend more time in each book for deeper study, but the point is clear—people have time to study God’s Word! Paul wrote, “…give attendance to reading…to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13).
Talking It Up: I know a lot of people who love to talk about football. A lot of joking goes on about which team is better and who will win, and the conversation can go on for a really long time. Why do they talk about it? Because they love the sport! If we love the Lord, we should be talking about Christianity to others. Perhaps we do not like to discuss it, because we have not studied it as we should. If that is the case, what should we do? Study (2 Tim. 2:15), because “talking about Christianity” is commanded by God (Matt 28:18-20; 2 Tim 2:2).
Willing to Part With Money: At a college or professional football game, the tickets are overpriced, the food and drinks there are overpriced, the souvenirs are overpriced – everything is overpriced! That money goes toward the stadium, paying the coaches, and all kinds of expenses. The die-hard fans are willing to shell out the money because they love it.
We need to be willing to part with our money if we love the Lord. That money is used to carry out God’s will. It is used to spread the Gospel and help others in need, which is much more important than any game (1 Cor. 9:14; 16:2; 2 Cor. 8:1-9; 9:6-7; Gal. 6:10; Jms. 1:27).
Willing to Spend Time to Be There: When I was growing up, we would sometimes get up at 2 A.M. on Saturday mornings to go to college football games! People will go to great lengths in preparation for “tailgating,” but what about worshiping God? How many will not even get up early enough to drive five or ten minutes and assemble with the church at 10 A.M.? Again, the average football game lasts about three hours. 80,000 people or more will sit there for three hours on a hard metal seat in the heat, rain, or snow without complaining. What about the nice padded pews in an air conditioned building? Is it too much to ask for someone to sit in a pew for an hour or two? Most churches only meet four hours out of every week. There are 168 hours in a week, so faithfully assembling would only take up about 2% of our week! How can we say we are 100% dedicated and “bearing our cross daily,” when we will not even give God 2% of our time? “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is…” (Heb. 10:25; cf. v23-31; Luke 9:23; 14:33).
Not Upset About Overtime: When a football game goes into overtime, that is a great thing! Why do fans see it as a great thing? Because they love the sport! If we love the Lord and His Word, then a worship assembly that goes into overtime will not be something to get upset about. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).
Loyal, Even When Surrounded By the Other Team: At football games it is usually more difficult to stand up and cheer for your team when you are surrounded by fans of the opposite team. The same concept applies to Christianity. When in the church building, it’s much easier to be a Christian, but what about when we are outnumbered? Do we still stand up for Christ, or do we compromise? (Dan. 3:10-18; Esther 2:2; Mark 8:38; Matthew 10:32-33; 1 Pet. 4:1-4, 12-16).
Excited About Victory: Some of the greatest memories I have of going to football games are when I think about the end of the games that we won. I remember my dad and my uncles jumping up and down giving everybody around them high fives and yelling. I’ll never forget that feeling of victory, but the feeling of victory one gets from winning a football game (or even the national championship or Super Bowl) is nothing compared to the feeling of victory faithful Christians will experience when the Lord returns in the clouds! (1 Thess. 4:16-17; 2 Tim. 4:8). That is something to get excited about! Don’t lose sight of the excitement of Christianity, and remember, whether your team won the championship will be the least of your concerns on the Day of Judgment. (1 Cor. 15:57-58).
Jason Hilburn, preacher for the Baker church of Christ, in Baker, FL.

(Editor’s note: For nearly fifteen years I have written an article for the Barnes bulletin, but this week I simply am physically and mentally unable to write. These are sad words to me, but it does mean that I have written about 780 articles.)

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Jun 09

THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST (4)

The fourth article, which is written under the title, “The Kingdom of Christ,” will address: “A Mass of Land.” Of course, these words are from a physical kingdom point of view and we are addressing a spiritual kingdom. Therefore, the question comes before us; what equals “a mass of land” in the spiritual kingdom? Jesus said in answer to Pilate’s question: “Art thou the King of the Jews?” Do you remember Jesus’ answer? Jesus said: “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” (John 18:33-34). Pilate clearly understood Jesus’ answer, therefore, Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (verse 36). Therefore, the kingdom of which Jesus serves as King is not physical but spiritual.
This brings us to the question, now that we know that Jesus’ kingdom is not physical but spiritual, just what is “the mass of his kingdom?” There is a thought that runs through the Bible and it is: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Pro. 4:23). Whatever we may be, it is first in the heart/mind, then, it produces the outward actions. Here is a good place to look at one of the “Beautiful Attitudes;” where Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Now, just what do these words mean? A “pure” heart is a single “heart,” a heart that is singularly devoted. The idea being singularly devoted to the will of God! Jesus expressed this type of heart in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” Mark 14:32) and then Jesus “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Within the words of Jesus’ prayer we find a heart that is singular; devoted to one will, the will of God, the Father! Where else would we go to find a “pure,” singularly devoted heart than to Jesus?
Now that we know, it is the heart, the singularly devoted heart, that is the “mass of land” which the kingdom of Christ is made of; it is time to see how this works. On that great day of Pentecost, Peter preached and there the question was put forth by some of those who heard: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The word, “pricked” is the Greek, “katanusso” and Strong says this: “to pierce thoroughly, that is, (figuratively) to agitate violently.” The “pricked” heart was a violently agitated heart; and it produced the question: “what shall we do?” They knew their heart was wrong, separated from God and that a change was necessary. They knew they had been wrong, and they were ready to make the necessary change of heart!
Paul addressed our subject, when he wrote: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Paul used a most interesting word, “transformed” which is the Greek, “metamorphoo” and means: “to change into another form.” But this does not reveal the complete action of the change. This word may best be seen in the change, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, which radically transforms its body, into a beautiful butterfly! It may be noted just here, if you look at the butterfly, you would have no knowledge that it was once a caterpillar! This is what Paul is saying, when he wrote: “by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This change, the metamorphosis, cannot be done without the gospel of Christ, an honest heart, willing to obey the gospel. Notice Paul’s words, as he gives one reason for “renewing your mind:” “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Without the “metamorphosis,” we would have little to no interest in proving “what is that good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
It is the heart, which is the same as the mind, that must be “pricked,” agitated violently; to cry out for salvation, the forgiveness of sins! Remember Paul’s words: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). Therefore, the “mass of land,” figuratively speaking, is the hearts, that have been agitated violently, brought to repentance, and obedience to the gospel. There is the kingdom of Christ!

Frank R. Williams

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