God is the Master designer. We need only look at the physical universe to realize this. Psalm 19:1 tells us that, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” The intricate and marvelous design of the creation shows the wisdom of God. “O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all…” (Psalm 104:24). Of course, God’s wisdom can be seen in other things He has designed – like the church. Ephesians 3:10 teaches that the “manifold wisdom of God” is made known through the church.
God is the Creator and Designer of the local church, too. His wisdom is seen in the way the church is designed to work just as it is seen in the way the physical creation is designed to work. Men cannot improve upon God’s designs. At our best, we learn to read the blueprints and follow them.
Unfortunately, many fail to recognize this when it comes to the local church. They view the local church as some sort of free-form association of Christians, whose own members are at liberty to determine its form and function – how it will work and what it will do. Continue reading » The Work God Gave the Local Church
How “the Lord Opened Her Heart”
In the city of Troas on the northeast coast of the blue Aegean Sea, Paul the apostle of Christ received the “Macedonian call”. He saw a man in a vision saying “Come over to Macedonia and help us”
(Acts 16:10). Paul and his preaching companions immediately sought passage to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called them to preach the gospel there. They sailed across the Aegean and made their way to Philippi, “which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia”
(Acts 16:12). On the Sabbath day, they went out of the city to the riverside to a place where prayer was customarily made. They sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Here is the account of what happened next in the inspired words of one of the evangelists who was present:
“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she constrained us” (Acts 16:14-15). Continue reading » New Testament Conversions: The Conversion of Lydia (Acts 16)
Addicts are sometimes put on programs of rehabilitation involving “steps” to recovery. You may have seen advertised recently a three step program to cure tobacco addiction. There are also nine and twelve step plans for alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. In these programs, each step involves a specific action or behavior which typically is to be done before one advances to the next step. Step plans serve not only to help a person reach a desired goal, they are also an effective means of measuring progress towards that goal. Modern counselors and self-help specialists have discovered that step plans are very effective tools because they clarify for us what must be done to reach a goal and they help keep us focused on achieving it.
It has been said that pioneer preachers, in an effort to simplify the plan of salvation, condensed it down to a five step plan. Common people, addicted to sin, who heard restoration preaching could remember the five step plan simply by associating each step with a digit on one of their hands. They were told that they needed to Hear-Believe-Repent-Confess-and be Baptized (H-B-R-C-B) in order to be saved.
Some have suggested that the Bible does not actually contain these steps, and that insistence on following five steps amounts to binding where God has not bound and/or an oversimplification which leaves off other truths of equal or greater importance. Others think that if these are truly the steps one must take to be saved, surely God would have specifically stated this in a single passage of scripture; since no single Bible passage appears to contain all five steps, they conclude that God has no five step plan. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Does God Really Have a Five Step Plan?