The Church as a Self-Edifying Body


When we read through the New Testament, we find the church being described in several different ways. In the passage below, the church is depicted as a self-edifying body.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

In these verses, Paul indicated that when the church functions according to God’s design, it causes itself to grow and be built up. What does this mean? How did God design the church to do this? How are we to act in order to help accomplish this?

Let us consider these questions as we learn how the church is a self-edifying body.Continue Reading

Great Days in History (Part 5): The Day of Pentecost

Great Days in History

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).

The day of Pentecost – called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10) – occurred fifty days after the Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16). This was to be observed every year by the Jews; however, this lesson is not about the annual event, but one specific day – the day of Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension.Continue Reading

Sharing the Gospel with Theophilus


When Luke wrote his gospel account, he addressed it to an individual named Theophilus. If we look at the writer’s introduction to the book, we will see some important lessons that we can apply to our efforts to share the gospel with others today.

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4).

Let us consider some points about Luke sharing the gospel with Theophilus.
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Is Divine Revelation Ongoing Today?

Looking toward heaven

For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief” (Ephesians 3:1-3).

Paul told the Ephesians about the mystery he received by revelation. He was referring to divine revelation – a message that came from God. As an apostle (Ephesians 1:1), the Holy Spirit guided him “into all the truth” (John 16:13) so that he could say, “The things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment” (1 Corinthians 14:37).

Does this type of divine revelation still occur today? Many people claim to receive messages directly from heaven. But does God reveal His will directly to people today like He did with Paul and others? It is important that we know the answer to that question. So let us consider it here.
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Audio: A Snake in the Fire

After the shipwreck on the way to Rome, Paul and the others ended up on the island of Malta. They were there just three months, but Luke’s account of their stay provides us with some important lessons about miracles, assumptions, and the preaching of the gospel. All of this began with Paul being bitten by a snake and shaking it off into the fire. This sermon examines the lessons taught to us in Acts 28:1-10.
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The Sixteen Apostles


You may be wondering about the title of this article. After all, were there not just twelve apostles? That is what children learn in Bible class. That is the number that immediately comes to mind for most Bible students of any age. If you count the men that Jesus chose during His time on the earth, there were just twelve apostles. But if you count every person mentioned in the Bible as being an apostle, you find not twelve, but sixteen.

Before noticing who these sixteen are, let us remember what the word apostle means. It is from the Greek word apostolos, which means one who is sent. In the context of Scripture, an apostle was one who was sent out on a divinely ordained mission with a message that came from above. His duty was to proclaim the good news of salvation.

So who were the sixteen apostles? We typically think of the twelve that were chosen by Jesus: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 10:2-4). Besides these, we read of Matthias (Acts 1:26), Paul (Romans 1:1), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and even Jesus Himself (Hebrews 3:1) being called apostles.

Not every one of the sixteen was the same type of apostle – Barnabas and Jesus particularly were distinct in different ways, as we will notice. But what they all have in common is that their apostleships help explain how God has chosen to reveal His word and how He desires that it be spread. So with this in mind, let us consider the sixteen apostles.
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The Certainty of the Scriptures

The faith that God wants us to have is an “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). He does not expect us to take a “leap of faith” — choosing to believe something, even though there is no evidence upon which to base our belief. Instead, He has provided a reasonable basis for our faith.

The most notable example of this is in the coming of Christ. His arrival into this world, His death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension, as well as His reign as King over His kingdom was all prophesied to occur. But can we really believe that it actually happened? Skeptics and critics say that we cannot accept what the Bible says. But Peter gave us two reasons why we can and should accept it.
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