This past Sunday morning, I launched into a series of studies asking the question, “What Is God Like?” This series will study the nature of God by examining various characteristics of Him that we can observe in scripture. Hopefully, by carefully considering these characteristics, we can come to a better understanding of God and develop a closer relationship with Him.
Do you believe there will be a final Day Of Judgment on which God will judge all mankind based on how they lived their lives on this earth? Many people either discount the concept altogether, or they view the possibility as being of little consequence. Many see God almost totally as a God of grace. They either cannot, or refuse, to see God also as a God of judgment. The two characteristics are not mutually exclusive. They are simply different aspects of God’s nature.
The wise man wrote God’s instruction, “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil” (Prov. 1:33). To listen to God is to pay heed, to obey His teachings and instructions. That obedience is tied to the spiritual safety and security of the individual who so “listens.” Are you living a lifestyle in which you can be confident of your spiritual safety and security?
Disunity is an earmark of denominationalism that is apparent for anyone who is even halfway observant. The term denominationalism means, at its base, division! It has produced, and it nurtures, blatant division among most of those who call themselves Christian. All of the different denominations have their own names, their own doctrines, their own plans of salvation, their own systems of church structure and government and their own individualized worship. The non-Christian world can easily be left in a state of confusion, not knowing which brand of Christianity to believe and follow.
Last week’s bulletin article “Christian Unity?” discussed the unity that is supposed to prevail among all of those who claim to follow Christ. Jesus prayed that all of His followers would be as united as are He and the Heavenly Father (Jn. 17:20-21). Denominationalism, however, has produced exactly the opposite of what Jesus prayed for. The fundamental concept of denominationalism is division, and division is exactly what it has produced within the realm of what is called “Christendom.”
In Jn. 17:20-21 Jesus prayed that all of His followers would be “one,” that is united. But the unity for which Jesus prayed was not some loose amalgamation. It was not a high sounding agreement to disagree agreeably. He prayed, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
On the night of His betrayal Jesus told the apostles, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35). This was not a suggestion from the Lord to the apostles. He was not just expressing a good idea. Nor was He simply giving some good advice. He characterized this instruction as a “commandment.”
Last Sunday was a momentous day for the Sunny Slope church of Christ. Five men- Travis Horton, North Witcher, Mark Grimes, Dwayne Kennedy and Gary Hutchens- were appointed as the first elders in the history of the congregation.
Just how important is it to be at services when the church meets? The beginning of a new year is an especially good time to consider this question. As Christians, we need to always be examining ourselves to make sure that our lives reflect true faithfulness (2 Cor. 13:5). But many people are reflecting on their lives more seriously right now than they normally would do.
This is the first Sunday of another new year. This is the thirty-eighth bulletin article that I have written marking the beginning of a new year, thirteen of them with this congregation. I have had the privilege of writing four articles marking the beginning of new decades and the most unique experience of writing one that marked a three fold new beginning: a new year, a new decade and a new millennium.
Gary L. Hutchens