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On this rock I will build my church
Matthew 16:18

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- Organization, Mission, Worship

Understanding the Lord's Kingdom

Gary Colley

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Jesus came from Heaven to earth for a specific reason. He came to carry forth the Father's purposes to save fallen man (Ephesians 2:4-7). Paul said that God would "have all men to be saved, and to come unto a knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:4). God purposed to save lost men in the church or kingdom built by Christ (Matthew 16:18-19). The church of Christ is God's plan of salvation. But the kingdom or church is viewed without understanding by many. Please make the following comparisons:

  1. Jesus came into the world to establish His church; but we must understand that His kingdom is not of the world (John 18:36).
  2. Jesus worked the first of His mighty works in His personal ministry at a social affair (wedding John 2); but He made it very clear that His kingdom was not a social organization (Romans 14:17).
  3. Jesus had power to forgive sins while he was on earth and did so in different ways with different people (thief on the cross); but after his death, burial, and resurrection, the world-wide commission recorded in all four accounts of the Gospel teaches that in His kingdom He saves only those who hear, believe, repent, confess His name, and are baptized into Christ (Matthew 9:6; Matthew 28; Mark l6; Luke 24; John 20).
  4. Jesus taught men to pay their taxes while he was on earth; but made it abundantly known that His kingdom was not political (Matthew 22:21; Acts 1:6-8).

Let all who would be saved understand His kingdom and come unto Him who is ready, able, willing to save. He will add to His kingdom or church those who gladly receive his word and are baptized (Acts 2:41, 47). At the same time your name will be added to the book of life when you understand and enter His kingdom (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 21:27).

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Restoring the Original

Darrell E. Beard

You are familiar with the idea of restoring a classic automobile or historic building to its original condition. When something is restored to its original state, it implies that it is valuable to someone and worth the effort.

Bible students know that there was the original church of Christ. We read about its establishment, growth and work in the New Testament. There is a full description of its original organization, work, worship, terms of entrance and other characteristics given by God.

In time, however, changes began to be made in doctrine, church organization and practice. Inspiration warned of this departure from the original. Refer to these passages: Acts 20:24-30; II Thessalonians 2:1-4; I Timothy 4:1-4; II Timothy 4:3-4.

Although this was a gradual process, the church which evolved out of these changes could not be identified as the original church of Christ. By the 15th and 16th centuries, many were pleading for a reform. The Reformation Movement accomplished some good, but did not meet the real need and led to the establishment of different, divided churches.

How different is denominationalism from Christ's original purpose to unite people in the church (John 17:20-21; Ephesians 2:15-18; 4:3-4)!

The only answer is in restoring the original church in all its divinely-appointed qualities and characteristics. It is not merely worth restoring. It must be, to please God! The church, as it existed in its original state, was what God intended it to be for that and for all time.

There can be no more important or noble work than restoring the Lord's church to its original state as revealed in the Bible.

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The Church --The Kingdom of God

Jim Laws

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All school-age children have some measure of understanding as to what a kingdom is. We understand that worldly kingdoms have subjects, territories, and laws, as well as rewards and punishments. History is full of kings and kingdoms. The Babylonian kingdom, the Syrian kingdom, the Medo-Persian, Egyptian, and the Macedonian are but a few that have become the subjects of historians, both ancient and modern. The casual student of the Bible has no trouble with the concept of a kingdom, as the Bible refers to such over and over again. In the Old Testament there are pages full of discussions of both kings and kingdoms to challenge the interest of the Bible student.

Actually, the Jews of Jesus' day had for a long time been looking forward to a coming kingdom. They had been thinking about it, and it was the object of their study for many years. They had been anticipating it, so they were quite ready when John and Jesus came and preached the kingdom. Their concept of the kingdom, though, was quite different from that of the Lord's. They were looking for a materialistic kingdom. They were looking for a kingdom of military power and strength to free them from the burden of Roman rule. Therefore, when Jesus and John came to the people preaching about the coming kingdom, they were ready for such, but their concept of the kingdom and that of the Lord's was quite different, indeed!

Jesus explained that His church was the kingdom which He intended to establish. From our reading of the Word of God, we find that it, too, has a ruler, with subjects, laws, rewards, and punishments. In Matthew chapter 16 Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He has just crossed over to the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" (verse 13). The disciples gave Him various answers, which is but an indication of how some of the public had failed to understand Jesus and His divine mission. Then, he responded with, "Whom say ye that I am?" In other words, what do you say? Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of that great truth. Jesus had been rejected at Jerusalem, then later at Nazareth, and still later at Gadara. Yet, the disciples, even though still in their infancy as far as understanding the mission of Jesus, understood this point--that Jesus was God's Son, the Messiah predicted from the pages of the prophets. Upon hearing this good confession in Matthew 16, Jesus blesses Peter, saying, "Blessed art thou." Then, He says to Peter, "Upon this rock I will build my church." Notice, Jesus refers them to the church.

Then, in the very next verse (verse 19) Jesus continues His discussion about the church by using the term "kingdom." He uses the word "church" and the word "kingdom" interchangeably. This important passage teaches us this great truth, for, while many religious teachers today attempt to distinguish between the two, Jesus clearly used the words "church" and "kingdom" interchangeably, thereby showing that the two terms refer to one and the same thing.

Additionally, this passage teaches that the time of the church's (kingdom's) establishment cannot be too far away! Jesus used the term "kingdom" and "church" to mean the same thing, and of course, if Jesus used them in that fashion, so ought we to do.

These are very important considerations for the Christian. Any religious group which does not consider itself to be the kingdom of God, the church for which Jesus died, simply cannot claim to be the church of Christ. Human organizations can never equal or replace God's divine kingdom, the church.

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