Aug 24

IS THERE A PLAN OF SALVATION? (3)

In the first two articles in this series it was established that there is a plan of salvation! This is the case, unless God deals with people differently, who stand in the same spiritual state of being lost and in need of being saved from their sins. Therefore, let us answer the question: “Does God deal with people, who stand in the same spiritual state of being lost,” differently?”
Perhaps a better question might be: “Is God unequal in his dealing with people who are in the same spiritual state of being lost?” First notice: “For there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom. 2:11). Here the word “respect” is the Greek: “prosōpolēpsia” and means: “favoritism” (Strong) and Thayer says: “partiality.” Thayer gives us more: “respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities.” Before God, all sinners stand as equal; no favoritism or partiality!
Then, we have the case of the Jew and the Gentile, as Peter came to understand: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). Here Peter, by the Holy Spirit, used a form of the same Greek word as in Roman 2:11. The Greek word for “respecter” is “prosōpolēptēs” and it means: “accepter of a face” and “exhibiting partiality.” Did you notice that the Holy Spirit used the same Greek word in Romans 2;11 and Acts 10:34; save the ending of the word? When God looks at our faces, he is not an “accepter” of one face over another; neither does God exhibit partiality! However, Peter went on to say, as he gives the answer to those whom God does respect: “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35). This goes hand in hand with the statement in Hebrews: “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). Those who fear God, who stand in awe of God and work righteousness are the same people who believe that God is “a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” God must be sought by those who are “in awe of” God, and those who are “engaged in righteousness” believing that God will reward them in their “investigation” of him! Keep in mind, that God is only found in righteousness! The idea that God may be found on top of the highest mountain, or in the deepest part of the ocean is false, totally false! At the same time, those who are seeking forgiveness, those who are seeking to be saved from their past sins, must seek it through righteousness!
Therefore, in addressing the plan of salvation, it must be understood that God is “no respecter of persons!” Let us here recall Paul’s words: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). Now, get this please, God’s power unto salvation, and yes, Paul did use the word “salvation,” is “the gospel of Christ!” Why is this true? Paul answers: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Paul’s first words are: “For there in,” looking back to verse sixteen, are the words, “the gospel of Christ!” In other words, God’s “righteousness” is in “the gospel of Christ” and “the gospel of Christ” is “God’s power unto salvation!” May I say unto you, “the gospel of Christ” is God’s plan unto salvation! Through “the gospel of Christ,” the sinner can find forgiveness of past sins, the “remission of sins!”
Here is an interesting question: “Did Peter and the other apostles on the day of Pentecost preach the gospel of Christ?” Or, were they authorized to preach something else? “God forbid!” On that Pentecost day, “the gospel of Christ” was first heard by human ears, taken into the minds of some 3,000 souls; and Luke says of them: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls: (Acts 2:41). Did these folks obey a “plan of salvation?” It is more than likely that the apostles on this great day, did not hold up five figures, and introduce “the plan of salvation;” but holding up five figures is a great way to teach the things that a lost person must do to be saved from past sins!
The “five figures” is a method of teaching and only that! It is a technique and no more and no less! Yet, it has been laughed at, made fun of, and dismissed altogether by some! But why would any lover of truth, the gospel of Christ, make fun of a method of teaching God’s plan of salvation, so long as it true to “the gospel of Christ?” Could it be that they have some other “plan,” or no “plan” at all? Nevertheless, let us not forget that we are only looking at the first part of God’s plan for salvation in this article!

Frank R. Williams

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Aug 18

IS THERE A PLAN OF SALVATION? (2)

The plan of salvation is larger than the forgiveness of past sins! So many just think of the “plan of salvation” as it relates to passed sins, meaning, sins committed before being baptized “unto,” with a few to having those sins forgiven! The plan of salvation is larger and a lot more is required than, what we call the “five steps of salvation!”
There is a real need to make an effort to understand what is meant by the words, “the plan of salvation;” therefore, let us take a look at it. First, the word “plan.” Just looking at the dictionary, here is what is given: 1) “a method for achieving an end,” 2) “an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective” and 3) “a detailed program (as for payment or the provision of some service.” (Merriam-Webster), If a person desires to be saved from past sins, he goes in search of an answer! Of course, as we are writing about the forgivenness of our own sins or being saved from “the wages” of sins committed. Therefore, it is logical to reach, to look, for “a method for achieving this end,” it is reasonable to look in the New Testament for “an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design in “the teaching of Christ” (2 John 9) to locate such, and it is right to look in God’s inspired word for the “detailed program,” by which salvation is reached. This is a brief look at the meaning of the word “plan” as used in our study.
Second, the word “salvation” and its meaning! Once more Merriam-Webster will help us here; 1) “deliverance from the power and effects of sin,” and 2) “deliverance from danger.” The two meanings serve us well here! Sin is the subject and how to be freed from the power and the effects of it and second, how can we be delivered from the danger of our past sins?
With the above understanding of the subject of a plan of salvation, it is reasonable to “search the ancient order of things” and see what is revealed in the New Testament for the answer to “the plan of salvation!” When those who heard the gospel of Christ preached for the first time, having been convicted of their past sins, they cried out: “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). These sinners were at the right place in their search for the answer to their question: “what shall we do?” It might be stated this way, “What is the plan for our salvation from past sins?” When Peter answered, “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 Spirit;” was he giving “the plan of salvation?” or not? A second question, “Was this the plan once and for all time?
Here we must bring to our understanding, that lost people, may not always be in the same place when desiring the answer to their lost state! However, “the plan of salvation,” may be understood by looking at the answers given to the same question, though it may not be stated as clearly as Acts two, verse thirty-seven, in other places in the New Testament. For instance, no question is forth coming before Peter said: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). A short study of Peter’s words will reveal this: 1) in both texts “repent” is given, however, the second thing given in both texts are different: 1) “be baptized” and “be converted.” That these two points are the same is simple to understand, in that they are in the same place, each one following “repent;” therefore, they must mean the same thing. Remember, two things that equal the same thing are equal to each other. The two terms, “be baptized,” and “be converted,” are equal to each other; also “for the remissions of sin” is equal to “that your sins may be blotted out” is equal to each other. The third point is: “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” and: “when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” are also equal to each other! Therefore, they are equal to the same thing.
Therefore, to this point in our study, we have learned, that believing people are to: 1) “repent and be baptized” or “repent … and be converted;” “for remission of sins,” or “that your sins may be blotted out.” Does this constitute a plan? The answer is yes! It is a means to the same end: the forgiven of past sins!

Frank R. Williams

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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

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/the-workings-of-the-kingdom-of-christ-2/

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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