From himself and everything outside of himself, man can ascertain that “God is” (Hebrews 11:6). It has been this way “since the creation of the world”; from which point, the “invisible things of [God] are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity.” Consequently, those who pass through life not knowing God are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Through “the generations,” God has “left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 17:15-17).
For man, it all starts “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). For God, there is no beginning; He is eternal. He does not need to be “served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything” (Acts 17:25); He is self-existent. He “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (v. 25); He is the cause of all, but himself. Nothing exists outside of God; it is “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (v. 28); He is infinite.
The self-existent, eternal, infinite God has endowed his creature, man, with the prime directive to “seek God…feel after him, and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (v. 27). It is, though, only from Scripture that we can learn about the “Godhead” (v. 29): the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is “God the Father” (Jude 1:1). There is “the Son of God, Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:19), who is the eternal “Word,” who at the beginning was both “with” and “was God” (John 1:1), and “through” whom “all things were made” (v. 3). There is the “Holy Spirit,” who is also “God” (Acts 5:3,4); who was there “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1,2) brining order and system to the newly created Earth.
It is the Godhead Three, as the old hymn says, who “foreordained before the worlds…the things that God prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:7-13), “eternal redemption” through the blood of Jesus, the Christ (Hebrews 9:12).
Bible Teaching About the Bible —
Bible is from the Greek word, biblion; it means “book.” No question about it, the Bible is a book: words, sentences, paragraphs, grammar; all the stuff that makes a book a book. Like all books, it can be read, and thoughts and ideas can be derived from contents. It is comprised of sixty-six books; and without too much effort, one can conclude that altogether at least forty different writers were involved, and that the composition of the Bible was spread out over fifteen hundred years.
So, the Bible is a book; and Solomon wrote, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). The Bible, though, as to its origin, parts company with all other books. Hundreds of times, a Bible reader will find statements like, “thus saith the Lord,” and variations of the same. The Bible claims, as to the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, that “men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). It claims, as to the origin of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, it came “not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
For Christians in general, and those who make up the Main Street church of Christ in particular, the basis of faith and practice is simple:
Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17)
Bible Teaching About Jesus —
The Bible teaches that Jesus of Nazareth was, is, the “Christ, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). He is the eternal “word,” and “in the beginning,” He was “with God,” and “was God.” He is the Creator by whom “all things were made” (John 1:1, 3). It was by “the power of the Most High” (Luke 1:35), that He was miraculously conceived in “a virgin” (Isaiah 7:14), and thus “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). In this way, He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14); and so, Scripture declares, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). He is “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him” (Acts 2:22). He was “born under the law” (Galatians 4:4); and, though “tempted like as we are,” He was “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He was “delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, [and…] lawless men did crucify and slay [Him]” (Acts 2:23). Thus, He vicariously “died for us” (Romans 5:8). He not only is “Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:6), but He is also “the man whom [God] hath ordained” to judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). God has “given assurance unto all men” of this great truth, “in that he hath raised him from the dead” (ibid). “According to the scriptures,” said the apostle Paul, Jesus, “died for our sins,” “was buried,” and “raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3). These three salient facts undergird the gospel, the good news, which all must hear and obey (Mark 16:15, 16). In the meantime, Jesus, “having made purification of sins, [has] sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). From there, “He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). To “all them that obey him,” He is “the author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). Conversely, as He Himself has said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my saying, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). So then, as regards “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” — “neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Bible Teaching About Salvation —
“Salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9) is God’s grand purpose, and Scripture’s grand theme. Concerning this “salvation,” the “prophets sought and searched diligently [and] prophesied of the grace that should come unto [us]” (v. 10).
Salvation has been made possible by the grace of God. The “grace of God hath appeared” (Titus 2:11). The “grace of God is “instructing us.” It is “to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us” (Ephesians 1:6), that “we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (vv. 6,7).
We are “saved by grace through faith” (2:8). Saving faith impels us to accept the facts of the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3,4); and to obey the commands of the gospel: repentance (cf. Acts 2:38), confession (cf. Romans 10:9,10), and baptism (cf. Acts 22:16). Faith in Jesus continues to impel us to live so that we may realize the “end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).
Bible Teaching About the Church —
Church is used to translate the Greek word, ekkleisia, which means “the called out.” In ancient Greece, in a given municipality, citizens would be “called out” to convene into an assembly. Such an assembly, whether actual or conceptual, was called an ekkleisia.
Jesus, the Christ, appropriated this word and made the unique promise: “Upon this rock, I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Peter had just confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” (v. 16). Declaring Peter to be “blessed,” because of his sublime conclusion, Jesus used wordplay of a sort involving Peter’s name. He said, “thou art Peter [petros – a stone], and upon this rock [petra – bedrock] I will build my church.” The stone had just confessed the bedrock: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).
Since Jesus was “declared to be son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4), it is natural that He built His church after that great event. For forty days, He showed “himself alive after his passion by many proofs” (Acts 1:3). Right while He was giving His apostles orders, He “was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (v. 9). The order of events are these: Jesus died; He shed his redeeming blood on the cross; He was raised; He showed himself alive; He was taken up; and, “when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
Ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the first day of the week, the apostles, following orders, were waiting in Jerusalem; at which time they were “baptized in the Holy Spirit” (cf. Acts 1:5). That lead to Peter’s preaching the very first gospel sermon concluding, “God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified” (Acts 2:36). That lead to the first believer’s plea: “What shall we do?” (v. 37). That lead to the first issuing of Gospel commands: “Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of yours sins” (Acts 2:38). That lead to the first instances of obeying Gospel commands: “They that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls” (v. 41).
This is the church Jesus promised to build. From this day forward, Scripture (cf. Acts 5:11; 8:1; 9:31 et al) refers to “the church,” as no longer a promise, but a fact. On that marvelous Day of Pentecost, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (2:47, NKJV); those who obeyed the gospel; that is, those who believed, repented, and were baptized for the remission of their sins. Nearly two-thousand years later, He continues to do the same.
Bible Teaching About Baptism —
Logically prior to one’s coming to faith in Jesus is his hearing the word (cf. Romans 10:14). Logically prior to one’s remorse and repentance of all past sins is his faith in Jesus as Savior (cf. Matthew 21:32). Logically prior to one’s being baptized for the remission of sins is his confessing “with [his] mouth Jesus as Lord (cf. Romans 10:8; Acts 8:36-38).
Scripturally, and logically following a believing, penitent sinner’s confession of faith in Jesus as Lord is his being “buried therefore with him through baptism unto death” (Romans 6:4). When raised from the watery grave of baptism, only then can the penitent, confessing believer begin to “walk in newness of life.”
The Christian Life
Bible Teaching About Christian Life —
Christians are “sons of God” (Romans 8:14), and as such are “led by the Spirit of God”; which is to say, they are led by “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (v. 1), that is, the New Testament. The Spirit of God, by this law says, among other things:
Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance: but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy. — 1 Peter 1:13-15
Bible Teaching About the Resurrection —
It was “not possible that [Jesus] should be holden [death]” (Acts 2:24). David, “foreeing [God's promise] spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (v. 31). Jesus “despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them” in His resurrection from the dead (Colossians 2:15).
Because of His great triumph over death, we believe and thrive on His promise:
Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.