The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)



The apostle Peter understood that it is of utmost importance to cause God's people to understand the nature of their relationship to God. Therefore guided by the Holy Spirit he wrote, "But you are a chosen race, a royal group of priests, a holy nation, and a special people. You must tell about the wonderful things that God has done. He called you from darkness (sin) into His amazing light" (1 Peter 2:9). The word special, as used above, is from peripoiesis, meaning "purchased," hence all Christians are a purchased people ‑ a pos­session belonging to God. Paul said to the Corinthians, "You don’t belong to yourselves…For you were bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).


We often speak of making a deal, which means we pay a price for a certain possession. That which is purchased is obtained from a seller who sets his price. There must be two parties to every deal ‑ the buyer and the seller. Long ago God said to apostate Israel, "Ye have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money" (Isaiah 52:3). Sold for nothing! Isn't that a deal of doubtful value?


Satan is a cruel taskmaster and his rewards are pitifully small. When Pharaoh enslaved Israel, the Egyptians "made their lives bitter with hard bondage" (Ex. 1:14). However, that bondage was nothing compared to the bond­age of Satan, for Satan is a crueler taskmaster than Pharaoh. He robs man of all eternal values. No wonder­ Jesus asked: "What god is it, if a person gains the whole world, but wrecks his own soul? What can a person use to trade for his soul”? (Matt. 16:26).


Paul speaks of deliver­ing some from the devil’s trap, who "has captured them to do what he wants them to do" (2 Tim. 2:26). It was said of wicked Ahab that he sold himself to work wickedness (1 Kings 21:20-26), and his reward was a miserable death. Jesus said: "Every person who continues to sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34). Paul added, "Surely you know that you are slaves to whomever you offer yourselves to obey? The one you obey is your master. You could obey sin which leads to death or you could obey God. This leads to being righteous" (Rom. 6:16). Sin unto death! The pay you get for sinning is death (Rom. 6:23). Isn't that a poor reward for a whole lifetime of service?


God sent Jesus Christ to bring deliverance to the captives. He rescued us from the kingdom of Satan and moved us into the kingdom of His dear son (Col. 1:13-14). If your life and your soul are not being used in Christ's happy service, Sat­an controls you, and to him you must look for your reward. Christ will make no bargain with Satan for your soul, for Sat­an will not release his captives at any price. His hatred of God and all that is decent, pure, and holy prevents that. Christ's bargain must be made with you. You bargained with Satan first; why not now make a contract with Christ? You willingly sold yourself into the bondage of sin, and now only you and Christ can make the contract that will "set the captive free."


A price must be paid ‑ a price has been paid: "Ye were bought with a price,” and that price was the greatest ever paid in all the tran­sactions of time. The Holy Spirit said, "You know the worthless kind of life you got from your ancestors. You were not purchased from this with something that doesn’t last, like silver or gold. No, it was with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a perfect lamb; nothing is wrong with it" (1 Peter 1:18-19). Paul speaks of the church of God which Christ "bought with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).


Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb:

Redeemed through his infinite mercy,

His child forever I am.


The shedding of Christ's blood on Calvary's tree, revealed two very important facts: (1) The value of man's soul, and (2) God's love for that soul. Generally we value an article according to the price paid for it. This is the accepted measure of values. God valued your soul sufficiently that He gave the most priceless treasure in His possession ‑ His Son. This is how much you are worth to God. What a pity that man's sense of values does not equal God's. The tragedy of most lives is that men hold themselves too cheap.


A soul that can be purchased only by the blood of God's Son is too precious to be thrown into the cauldron of hell! Long ago God said, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir" (Isaiah 13:12). Now we can sing, "Redemption is finished, the price has been paid." The bloody cross of Calvary is the finger of God pointing to you and saying "You are not your own…you are bought with a price." That price was Love's tribute to you. "Look at the kind of love that the Father has given us: We are called children of God. And, we really are God’s children" (1 John 3:1). "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. That whosoever believeth on him should not per­ish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). That Love redeemed you and pur­chased you from the eternal bondage of Satan. "And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord" (Isa. 62:12).


How im­portant it is for all Christians to recognize the obligations of ownership. Too many church members live their lives as if God had absolutely no claim of any nature or degree upon them. They attend services only when they please and generally they go to the devil's playground just as often as they please. They never take God into their confidence with reference to such matters. They never stop to consider the awful price that was paid to re­deem them, and by ignoring that price they again sell themselves into the bondage of the devil. They forget that Christ said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). No cross - no crown! The golden crown of immortality is not obtained by embezzlement. You can't rob the Lord of His possessions and still expect Him to acknowledge you as His own.


God once asked, "Will a man rob God"? (Mal. 3:8), and then He accused the Jews of being thieves because they withheld from the Lord that which rightfully belonged to Him. The cross of Christ that effected your redemption ever stands as a mute witness of your obligations to God. Your time, your tal­ents, your money, yea, your all belongs to God and must be used for His honor and glory. Christ has chosen one day of the week out of seven as His own. It is the Lord's day (Rev. 1:10). Note the possessive case. It is Christ's and He expects you to go to the house of God and worship Him in grateful remembrance of a Savior’s death. The Bible says, "Do not quit meeting together, as some people are in the habit of doing. Instead, encourage one another even more, since you see the day coming closer" (Heb. 10:25).


Have you ever heard of a delinquent Christian saying to the Lord on that day, "Lord, I know that I belong to you and that this day is your day, but I wish permission to go visiting this morning, and this evening I crave an easy chair by my warm fire­side. Won't you please excuse me?" No, they don't talk thus to God. They simply rob Him of the hours of worship that are due Him without as much as "by your leave." They spend most all their money on themselves and give to the Lord a few niggardly dimes and quarters, forgetting that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (Ps. 24:1).


If you were to go to your neighbor's house in his absence and help yourself to any of his property, without his consent, what would be your crime? Dare you forget that "You are not your own. Ye are bought with a price?" Some pro­fessed Christians occasionally attend services and there they will melodiously sing, "I am thine O Lord, I have heard thy voice, and it told thy love to me; But I long to rise, in the arms of faith, and be closer drawn to thee." Then immediately they return home, taking that which belongs to God and using it in sensuous, carnal, forbid­den pleasures, forgetting they are to "glorify God in their bodies and in their spirits which are God's."


If you sell your services to a company for a good salary, are you permitted to take a vacation whenever it suits you and without consulting them, and expect your salary to continue as usual? You would probably say, "How absurd!" Of course its absurd; but how much more absurd for you to take yourself away from the place of the Lord's service, go on a vacation whenever you desire and yet expect the Lord to continue to bless you with "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17).


And again! If you sell your services to a company for a sal­ary, do you have a right to decide for yourself just how much service you will give? Do they not have the right to specify the num­ber of hours, days, and weeks you must serve to earn the salary? Yet many church members seemingly think they can render a very limited service to the Lord and still receive the same reward given to the most faithful workers. What assurance do you have that God will accept a limited service?


The church at Laodicea thought that they were rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing at the very time when their love for the Lord was neither cold nor hot. As a result, the Lord threatened to "spue them out of his mouth" (Rev. 3:15‑19). A cold heart cannot give a warm service. Christ will not accept a limited service. He said, "You must love the Lord our God from all your heart, from all your soul, from all your mind, and from all your strength" (Mark 12:30).


There was nothing lacking in the service Christ rendered to you upon the cross. His service to you was without stint or limit. Is it unjust that He should expect the same from you? Should we not love Him "because he first loved us?" (1 John 4:19). Christ was not content to re­main safe and secure in heaven while you were headed for hell. His sense of duty to His Father and His passionate love for you for­bade that. And so "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). That was a willing and a perfect sacrifice.


Jesus once said, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again" (John 10:17-18). Should not your service be as willing and as consecrated as His? Do you really think you can be stingy with God and at the same time expect Him to pour out to you the abundance of His grace? Just who are you that you think God owes you everything, while you withhold from Him even the smallest service and sacrifice?


Christ bought you and redeemed you from the degrading bondage of Satan. Does not simple honesty require that you give to Him that which is rightfully His? Why do you sing, "Jesus died for me; All to him I owe," and then deny Him the right to that which He purchased through the sweat of agony and the blood of Calvary? He asks nothing from you except that which is for your good. He is not a slave driver, lying upon you heavy burdens too cruel to bear. Re­member, he said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).


The yoke is not placed upon you to burden you and crush you down. A yoke is the emblem of service. The oxen could be of no service to their masters without a yoke that enabled them to pull the load, and the burdens of life are made infinitely easier to bear if we wear the efficient yoke of the compassionate Christ. "Loving God means obeying His commands. God’s commands are not too hard for us" (1 John 5:3). The service of love is always a joyful service, and the service He asks of you cannot be an irksome service if He has your heart. Set your affection on things above, "for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1-4).


O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine oceans depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.


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