Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What is your faith today. Does it provide evidence in a belief that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God? What evidence does it provide?
Do you merely believe or does your life provide evidence of your faith by the things that you do and the way that you live? Have you had your sins washed away in baptism so that you may be a child of God or is your faith merely belief without any required action on your part? If you continue reading in Hebrews 11 you will see that those who were justified by their faith were obedient to God and did not merely believe and do nothing.
They did what God required of them. By faith Abraham obeyed God (verse 8). The children of Israel’s obedience to God always brought them blessings from God, while their disobedience brought punishment from God (Deuteronomy 11:28). It is the same for us today. Faith alone will not save us (James 2:24). Read the entire chapter of James 2 and you will see that doing the works of God is also required for our salvation.
One of the things we must do is repent of our sins (Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Luke 13:1-3). Another thing we must do is be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16 and numerous other passages).
We are not saved at the moment we believe, but must do the things required of us that are evidence of our new-found belief and part of our faith. Faith and obedience cannot be separated–our obedience is an integral part of our faith. See the plan of salvation link above to learn all the steps that are taught in the scriptures and are thus necessary by which we may be saved.
After baptism we must continue to obey God by applying to our lives (doing) what we find in scripture He would have us do and becoming the things taught so that we may become truly Christlike and acceptable to God (see post “Being Christlike” from Oct. 17, 2015). James said that faith without works is dead (James 2:20).
This means that our faith is useless, unless we do the works of God for the rest of our lives. We are to worship Him and serve Him (through the church and in our daily lives). The church is God’s institution whereby we may do good works and serve Him and we can only do so in the manner in which He has prescribed, so we need to find a church which follows the scriptures (primarily the New Testament) as the sole source of religious authority in practice and in doctrine.
There is a pattern outlined in the scriptures that we must live our lives by. No one writer or passage has all the answers (this includes the Plan of Salvation). We must piece together what we find in all scripture to get the full teaching and not go beyond (add or take away what we find there (Revelation 22:18,19). The same is true for churches.
A true church of Christ (and it should bear His name as He is the head of the church) must follow the pattern as outlined in the New Testament. It must not practice anything that we do not find in scriptures that the first century church was doing and it must do the things that we find they were doing. To go beyond this is to be lost in sin just as surely as an individual can be lost in sin. One not patterned after the New Testament is not full of those who are saved but rather those who are lost.
Jesus adds one to the church when one is saved (Acts 2:37). This is the universal church that consists of all the saved. We must be sure also that we belong to a local congregation, patterned after the New Testament where we can worship God as He would be worshipped and that bears the name of His son, who is the head, the only head of the church (Ephesians 5:23).
There is only one church (called the body in Ephesians 4:4) and one faith (Ephesians 4:4)). There is not many faiths and many churches as if you can join the one of your choice as the denominational world teaches. Join your local Church of Christ and then as you attend, be sure that they are patterned after the scriptures. Some are not.
If you find even them going beyond leave them and find a church that is truly patterned after the first century church. If you cannot find a New Testament church you can start your own (hopefully under the guidance of one knowledgable in the scriptures, but if not study and learn what you must do yourself).There is no limit to the number of local congregations and no authority but Christ (no national or regional organization).I will talk more about this in a future post..
May God bless you and keep you until next time.