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Many people think they have obeyed the gospel of Christ and are members of His church when they have not, in fact, done what is required by the Scriptures. The truth is, we are in the church which belongs to Christ only if we obey His word. Even if the sign out front says the church we attend is "of Christ," that does not make it so. Regardless of the name we wear, if we are not governed by Christ's authority then we have no connection to Him. This week is a good a time to reflect on that fact.
Jesus taught that there would be many who would falsely and without justification claim to have some association with Him. He said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'" (Mt. 7:21-23). Jesus also said, "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (Jn. 15:14). Whether we are disciples of the Lord is determined not only by our words or our outward profession of allegiance to Him; it is determined by whether we actually follow Him. Paul asked, "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16).
The commandments of Christ, of course, have to do with more than just our congregational responsibilities; they also include what we do as individuals. But none can deny that our congregational work and worship are a part of what determines whether we are truly in fellowship with Christ. Who that has seriously read the Bible will say that a church can disregard the Lord's will and still keep its connection to Him? To the contrary, when a church gets out of line with Christ's authority and refuses to correct the problem, Christ eventually disavows that church as belonging to Him (Rev. 2:5; 3:16; etc.). May we ever respect the commandments that must be obeyed if we are to be -- and continue to be -- a church that is genuinely "of Christ."
Monday: Matthew 16:13-20
Key Idea: Jesus Christ built His church, and that is the church we want to be in.
Questions for Family Growth: Whose church did Jesus say He would build? If people disregard Christ's teaching, doing contradictory things about even the most basic parts of His will, can they all rightfully claim to be in the church that Jesus said He would build?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 5:21-23.
Tuesday: Romans 16:16
Key Idea: These are many congregations of Christians all around the world.
Questions for Family Growth: What does Paul's expression "churches of Christ" mean? Didn't Christ promise to build only one church? If Christ's churches all follow the same instructions, won't they resemble one another in their doctrine, worship, and organization?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 6:1-5.
Wednesday: Revelation 2:1-7
Key Idea: To belong to Christ, a congregation must obey the Lord in genuine love for Him.
Questions for Family Growth: What was wrong with the church at Ephesus? In v.5, what did Christ say He would do if they did not repent and come back to Him? Can we be in Christ's church today if we do not love Him as we should?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 6:6-11.
Thursday: Revelation 2:12-17
Key Idea: To belong to Christ, a congregation must not teach or practice false doctrines.
Questions for Family Growth: What was wrong with the church at Pergamum? How was the problem at Pergamum different from the one at Ephesus? In v.16, what did Christ say He would do if they did not repent and correct their problems?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 6:12-15.
Friday: Colossians 3:12-17
Key Idea: To belong to Christ, a congregation must respect Jesus' authority in all things.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean to do things "in the name of the Lord Jesus"? Where do we find out what Jesus wants us to do if we desire to belong to Him? What does 2 Tim. 3:16,17 say the Scriptures are profitable for?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 6:16-19.