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


This lesson has been written to the Glory of God who Created the World.  The Bible says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4).  The ONE GOD has revealed Himself to us in nature, for “the Heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Ps. 19:1).   But even more objectively, the ONE God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible (READ 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
God created man in His own image (Gen. 1:27).  He is the Provider of life and ALL GOOD THINGS, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  He gives us an eternal soul (Ecc. 12:7), and allows us the FREEDOM to CHOOSE.  Moses told the Jewish people, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life” (Deut. 30:19).  GOD CREATED the world and everything in it in six days (Gen. 1; Ex. 20:11), and He  "saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).  However, within this very good world sin reared its ugly head (Gen. 3).
Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. God gave them ONE COMMAND, saying that if they broke this law the penalty would be DEATH (Gen. 2:15-17).  After being tempted by Satan (the devil), Adam and Eve sinned [disobeyed the CREATOR] (Gen. 3:5-6).
Because they CHOSE to sin, they immediately died spiritually and were expelled from the presence of God (Gen. 3:23).  Their bodies began to deteriorate, leading to physical death (Gen. 5:5).  Man fell from God's GRACE when death entered the world through sin (Rom. 5:12). God's punishment did not mean He withdrew His LOVE from man.  Even before time began, and naturally before man sinned, God had plans that would allow man to inherit ETERNAL LIFE (Tit. 1:2).
By the days of Noah, "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5).
  God therefore sent a flood to destroy all men (2 Pet. 2:5), saving only Noah and his family (Heb. 11:7).
Because Abraham (by faith) obeyed God, he was chosen to become the patriarch of Israel (Heb. 11:8-10), and in his seed, JESUS, all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:2-3; Gal. 3:14-16).
Laws, including the Ten Commandments, were given to Abraham’s descendants (Deut. 5). Though laws change, the punishment for sin remains the same - DEATH (Ezek. 18:4, 20; Rom. 6:23).  The Old Testament has many lessons about men who failed to keep God's commandments.  These stories were revealed as examples for us, “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:6, 11).
Because of God's MERCY and LOVE, He repeatedly promised through the Old Testament prophets that a Savior would come from among the descendants of Abraham to provide forgiveness for man's sins and allow man to return to fellowship with God (Isa. 53; Acts 2:30).  As we continue to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), let us now speak plainly about this Savior who can SAVE man from DEATH.
The Bible says, “When the fullness of time had come (during the days of the Roman Empire) GOD SENT FORTH HIS SON,” born of a virgin (Gal. 4:4), to save those who were lost (Luke 2:11), that we might receive the adoption as children of God (1 John 3:1).
Because GOD LOVED US (John 3:16), He sent Jesus Christ, that we might LIVE through Him (1 John 4:9).  Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to be the SAVIOR of the world (John 3:17).  He came to SAVE SINNERS (1 Tim. 1:15).
Before Jesus came in the flesh, God spoke to men in many ways (Heb. 1:1-2).  Today He speaks to us ONLY THROUGH HIS SON (John 14:24).  The MESSAGE of Jesus can free us from sin and lead us back to God (2 Cor. 5:18).
Jesus claims to be: the LIGHT of the world (John 8:12), the DOOR to salvation (John 10:9), and the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE (John 14:6).  Jesus says, "The TRUTH shall make you FREE" (John 8:32).  He promises ETERNAL LIFE to those who believe in Him (John 11:25-26), love Him (John 14:15), and obey His Word (John 8:51).
Jesus tells us that the MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENTS are to LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS (Matt. 22:36-40).  However, Jesus also preached the necessity of FAITH (John 6:47); REPENTANCE (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:5); CONFESSION (Luke 12:8); BAPTISM (Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:16); and the facts that HEAVEN awaits those who SERVE Him, and HELL awaits those who FAIL to serve Him (Matt. 25:31-46).
Our sins require DEATH as punishment (Rom. 6:23; 1 Pet. 2:24).  Because of MERCY, Jesus offered His sinless life as the substitute for ours (Matt. 20:28).  God demonstrated His LOVE for us, in that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).
The shedding of blood was required for us to have forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22).  Jesus, our friend, thus became our Savior by dying on the CROSS (John 15:13).  He washes our sins away by His own BLOOD (Rev. 1:5).  His DEATH for our sins satisfied God's requirement for our punishment, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
The GOOD NEWS of the Gospel is that on the third day after His burial, Jesus Christ AROSE FROM THE DEAD (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  This was witnessed by many people (1 Cor. 15:5-8).  After 40 days, He ascended back to Heaven (Acts 1:3, 9-11).
Jesus proved to us that by His power we, too, can CONQUER DEATH.  Christ proved that He has authority over Satan who had the power of death.  Jesus offers to RELEASE those who are slaves to the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15).  Sin and death no longer have dominion over us since the Son has provided us with a way of escape from the wrath of God (Rom. 6:14).
In Acts chapter 2, when the apostle Peter preached the first sermon after the return of Jesus to Heaven, many were moved by the message and asked, "What shall we do?"   They were told, "REPENT, and let EVERY one of you be BAPTIZED in the name of Jesus Christ for the REMISSION OF SINS; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37-38).
About three thousand believed and were baptized (Acts 2:41).  At that point, these people were SAVED by the GRACE of God (Eph. 2:8; Mark 16:16), and added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47).  This church was purchased by the BLOOD of Christ (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28).  Christ, as Head of the church (Col. 1:18), has ALL authority over it (Matt. 28:18).  He has instructed us plainly about how the church is to WORSHIP God.  We are to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
That means we are to meet for worship each Sunday and remember Jesus by partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7).  In order to lay up treasures in Heaven, we are to cheerfully give of the material blessings God has given to us (Matt. 6:19-20; 1 Cor. 16:2).  We are to pray (Acts 12:5), sing (Eph. 5:19), and preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2).  The apostles preached the same thing that Jesus preached (Gal. 1:12).
As we study the many New Testament examples of conversion to Christ and salvation from sin, all found in the Book of Acts, we learn that those who obeyed the commands of Jesus, did so by hearing and believing the Word, repenting of their sins, confessing Jesus to be the Son of God, and in every case, being baptized (immersed in water) to wash their sins away by the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5).  At the point of their baptism they were saved (1 Pet. 3:21) by the grace of God (Eph. 2:8).
The same PROMISE of SALVATION is offered to us if we obey the SAME COMMANDS (Acts 2:39).  When we respond in the same way to the same message, we are SAVED from SPIRITUAL DEATH, and the Lord ADDS us to the SAME body or church of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 3:6).
When we REPENT, we die to our old sinful self (Rom. 6:1-2; Gal. 5:24).  When we are BAPTIZED, we are BURIED in water (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12), just as Christ was buried in a tomb. While with Christ in his death in that grave under the water, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (Matt. 26:28).
When we come up out of the water, we are born again into a new life (2 Tim. 2:11; 2 Cor. 5:17); FREED from the guilt of our past sins (Rom. 6:7), just as Jesus was resurrected without the sins He bore on the cross.  This is a SPIRITUAL REBIRTH (John 3:5).  After we OBEY the GOSPEL, we must continue to live under the GUIDANCE of God (John 8:31).  Only by following His word can we enjoy His FELLOWSHIP (1 John 1:5-7.)
Friends, Jesus Is Coming Again!  He has promised that HE WILL RETURN (John 14:3). At that time the WORLD will be BURNED UP (2 Pet. 3:10-13).  Then God will JUDGE every soul INDIVIDUALLY according to his or her DEEDS (Rev. 20:12-13).
Neither man's opinions, nor man’s doctrines or commandments will be what judges us in the end (Matt. 15:9; John 12:48).  ETERNAL PUNISHMENT in HELL awaits those who have not OBEYED Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:8-9).  Those who did not accept Christ as their substitute by obedience to His word, will have their SINS punished by ETERNAL DEATH (James 1:15), forever SEPARATED from God (Heb. 10:29-31).  The NEVER ENDING JOYS of HEAVEN await those who have had their SINS WASHED AWAY by the blood of Jesus and have remained FAITHFUL to the LORD'S WILL (Rev. 2:10; Matt. 24:13).
God's JUSTICE demands IF YOU SIN, YOU WILL DIE (Ezek. 18:20)!  God's LOVE allows IF YOU BELIEVE AND OBEY JESUS, YOU CAN LIVE (Heb. 5:8-9)!  God's WILL is revealed ONLY in the Bible.  He has allowed us to CHOOSE the road we will follow (Matt. 7:13-14).  He has given us clear WARNINGS about following our own will (Prov. 14:12), and wonderful PROMISES about following His will (Matt. 7:21-29).

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