Welcome to our Online Bible Study. It is the premise of this section that the bible is indeed the Word of God, and through His Word, reveals the amazing story of Jesus Christ, the author of eternal salvation.
Our goal in providing this section is to make available the Truth of God’s Word to as many people as possible. Designed to teach a person what they need to know to become a Christian, the study introduces the very foundation of Christianity, the Gospel message, and living a faithful Christian life.
The word church is used well over one hundred times in the New Testament. It is obviously a very important word but what, exactly, does it mean? Is the church merely a place for worship? Is it the sum of all the religious denominations? Or, is it something more personal and spiritual? And furthermore, how important is the church? And, does Jesus have a church to which we must belong in order to be saved?
If we took a poll in the community, asking, "What is the church?" we would get diverse and conflicting answers.
In this series of two articles, we let the Bible answer this question, so we can be the church God wants us to be.
God is the originator of the church, according to His eternal purpose in Christ (Eph. 3:11-12). He foretold of the church in the Old Testament, indicating that He'd establish it during the reign of Rome (Mi. 4:1-3; Dan. 2:31-45).
During the reign of Rome, the church began on Pentecost, a few days after Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:6-8; 2:1-4).
The word "church" is translated from the Greek work ekklesia, denoting a called out body of people.
God calls us out of the world of sin through the gospel (2 Th. 1:14). The church is composed of people who respond to God's call.
The word church is used in two ways. "Church" can be used in reference to all Christians, or a specific congregation. Jesus uses "church" both ways:
There are several names in the Bible that identify the church.
Since we are commanded to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus," congregations of the Lord's church must use an authorized name.
I doubt that anyone would think it a compliment to be considered a simple person. But the fact is that everyone is a simple person - especially compared to God.
There are two types of simple people. The first type is one who rejects God (Pr. 1:22). This person delights in scorning and hates knowledge - he is a fool. The second type of simple person is the one who is wise and therefore obeys God (Ps. 19:7; 116:6; 119:130).
Naaman exemplifies a simple man, scornful of the word of God, who came to accept God's simple command (2 Kings 5:1-14). Remember that Naaman expected Elisha to come out to him and do some fantastic thing whereby he would be healed. But Elisha just sent a messenger out to him instructing him to dip seven times in a dirty river. God's command did not meet Naaman's expectation of glorious fanfare so he scorned the message. Finally, Naaman's servants convinced him of his foolishness after which he obeyed God's simple command and was healed.
Today, many people are like Naaman. They are scornful toward God and His word. They would obey God if He had commanded something difficult, but they reject God because He has commanded something simple.
Paul reveals God's mind concerning the simplistic nature of salvation and the church writing: "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (1 Cor. 1 :21).
You see, God loves everyone and is not willing that any should perish (1 Pet. 3:9). So, salvation is a very simple thing. Just like Naaman, those who believe the Lord (although His commands may seem ridiculous) will be saved.
There will always be people who reject God since salvation and the church are "simple." Of this Paul says: "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
Finally, notice that Paul warns the Corinthians of being deceived and departing from the simplicity that is in Christ. He says: "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it" (2 Cor. 11:3-4).
So, we must be on guard. We must be content with the simplicity that is in Christ. We must never allow Satan to deceive us into believing a different Jesus or gospel. We must simply believe the word of God, be content with the simplicity in Christ, and never "think beyond what is written" (1 Cor. 4:6).
"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Pet. 2:11- 12).
A sojourner is someone who has taken up temporary residence in a place. Today, some one may go to a foreign country to live for a couple of years with the intent of returning home. This person is a sojourner. But, if the person does not intend to return home and becomes a citizen of the foreign country, he is not sojourning.
God's people have always considered mortal life a sojourning and pilgrimage (Gen. 47:9; Ps. 119:54; Heb. 11:13-16). If you are a child of God, you too must be a sojourner since this world is not your home.
There are four aspects of a Christian's sojourning. First, most details of our homeland have not been revealed. We are pilgrims upon the earth journeying to our eternal home in faith. None of us has seen heaven. We only have vague glimpses of the home we long to obtain at the end of this journey. By faith we remain on our journey and are not deterred by uncertainty (Heb. 11:8).
Second, we do not always understand everything that happens along our journey. Put yourself in Noah's shoes. It had never rained upon the earth and God commanded Noah to build an ark because He was going to cause it to rain and destroy the earth. How perplexing this must have been. Noah may have wondered: What is rain? What does rain look like and feel like? How will it destroy the earth?
Also consider Daniel. He was a great prophet of God. God gave him an end time prophesy to record for future generations. Although he spoke and recorded the words, he did not understand the meaning. He says: "Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, 'My Lord, what shall be the end of these things?' And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end'" (Dan. 12:8-9). So, we do not always understand the things that happen along our journey. Like Daniel, we trust in the Lord, obey His word, and remain confident that we will receive the promise.
Third, our pilgrimage requires sacrifice. As an athlete must sacrifice to condition his body, we must also sacrifice to discipline our body and bring it into subjection. Using this metaphor, Paul says: "Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:26-27). Jesus said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul" (Matt. 16:24-26)?
Fourth, faith keeps us on our journey to heaven. Having presented Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah as faithful pilgrims, Paul says: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland" (Heb. 11:13-14).
Think about yourself: Are you a child of God living in faith? Have you embraced the promises of God? Do you confess that you are a stranger and pilgrim on the earth? Are you declaring that you seek a homeland?
Most religious denominations teach that a person must believe, repent, and confess Jesus to be the Son of God in order to be saved. But they do not teach that someone must be baptized before he is saved. The Bible clearly teaches that a person is not saved until after he is baptized into Christ. In addition to the inspired writings in the Bible, it is interesting to read the uninspired writings of Christians from the second and third centuries since they taught that one was not saved until after being baptized. In fact, the doctrine of salvation without baptism into Christ began with the Gnostics.
Today, some people teach pouring and sprinkling as a type of baptism, but their teachings contradict the Bible. Some teach that baptism is not necessary while others teach and practice a baptism into something other than Christ. The English word baptism is a transliteration of the Greek word baptisma and is defined as immerse - not sprinkle or pour. Vines Expository Dictionary defines baptism as "consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence." Therefore, in order for one to be baptized in water, it is necessary to be submerged under the water and then to emerge from the water. Immersion cannot be obtained through sprinkling or pouring. Furthermore, history bares out that immersion in water was exclusively practiced by First Century Christians. Erroneous doctrines of sprinkling and pouring did not come into existence for many years after the apostolic age.