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Viewpoint Brief Bible Study #000

JESUS calls US to be
members of His church

hand reaching out
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The Christian religion is the worship and service of Jesus Christ. It’s not Mary we worship, but her Son. We worship neither saints, angels, a law code, nor even God’s Spirit. It’s JESUS who is to be honored. The Bible is our guide.

We Want to See Jesus

The Christian religion is the worship and service of Jesus Christ. It's not Mary we worship, but her Son. We worship neither saints, angels, a law code, nor even God's Spirit. It's JESUS who is to be honored. Not tradition but the Bible is our proper guide.

MAX LUCADO, a well-known Texas Christian, writes: "Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing JESUS." Paul points out, "There is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men -- the man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5)."

For many hundreds of years after receiving the promise that a Messiah would come, Jews longed to see their Savior. In good times and bad, some clung to the faith that someday He would come. Then Jesus came -- and many could not believe that He was in fact the Promised One. His deeds proved He was what He claimed to be!

Jesus clearly spoke to His apostles to let them know that those who had seen Him had seen the Father -- that He and the Father are one, that He is God in the flesh. Note the article, "The Real Nature of God."

What Do We Aim For?

God's ultimate aim for all human life is that all men shall praise and confess that Jesus is Lord, which will glorify the Father. Note Paul's words in Ephesians chapter 1:

"From Paul, who by God's will is an apostle of Christ Jesus -- to God's people who live in Ephesus, those who are faithful in their life in Christ Jesus: May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

"Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For he has blessed us, in our union with Christ, by giving us every spiritual gift in the heavenly world. Before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his in Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him.

"Because of his love, God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would bring us to himself as his sons -- this was his pleasure and purpose. Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son!

"For by the death of Christ we are set free, and our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, which he gave to us in such large measure. In all his wisdom and insight God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ.

"God's plan, which he will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.

"For all things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. Let us, then, who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God's glory!"

We Praise GOD and His SON

Is it God the Father, or is it Christ (God the Son), who is most worthy of our praise? We can scarcely read the passage above (from Ephesians chapter 1) without knowing that praise is to go to both the Father and the Son. God spoke the world into existence. The Son agreed with the Father and did the creating. For us to praise and worship Jesus is pleasing to His Father.

"There is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men -- the man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5)." ------------------------------------------------------------------------

To overlook the Son while praising the Father is a mistake none should make. In Word and Work for October '93, Thomas Smail of England reminds us (in his book THE FORGOTTEN FATHER) that "the Son is only the Son because he comes from the Father!"

We see that Smail is right, yet Lucado is even more right in pointing us to Jesus as eternal Savior. God is supreme. Jesus is the door by which we come into God's presence. No one can be saved without Jesus and His atoning death. God's eternal plan, Paul says, is to always honor His Son. With all humanity present (the scene is the great judgment day after this earth has been destroyed and cleansed by fire), every man and woman who has ever lived on the earth will bow before Jesus and there confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

During eternity those who on earth honored God's Son and sought salvation in His cleansing blood will praise and serve both the Father and the Son in eternal bliss. Those who spurned God's call, who chose to live outside the light of God's love on earth, will be outside for all eternity.

What has been said here is that wise men and women and young people on earth today should praise both the Father and the Son. We then can look forward to a happy eternity. Jesus saves!

Some Also Worship And
Praise the Holy Spirit

In our generation, and beginning as early as the 3rd century A.D., some have decided to also praise and worship the Holy Spirit. So praise is directed by them to God, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.

In the Bible, which is OUR guide on the way to Heaven, we find no example of Christians praying to the Holy Spirit or otherwise honoring Him except by how we speak and live. We find no admonitions directing Christians to pray to or to worship the Holy Spirit. Why, then, do some think they should pray to the Holy Spirit?

Those who follow Bible ways pray to the Father God and expect Him to hear because we approach Him through the Son He loves. Think again about the model prayer. Jesus suggests that men should approach God's throne with their desires and worship. On the throne is God the Father. Beside Him is the Lamb of God, Jesus, whose blood covers our sin and makes us clean. Let us praise God's glory!

Paul tells us about the Spirit of God in Ephesians 1 also. After urging us to praise God, he continues -- When you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation, you believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!

Much Is Said in the Bible
About The Spirit of God

Yes, there are three manifestations of God -- Father, Son, and Spirit. God's Spirit inhabits Christians. This indwelling is also spoken of as being GOD within us and JESUS within us. It's through the Spirit that the Bible was given to guide us to glory. Our indwelling Comforter is God's Holy Spirit. The Spirit within is the "seal" by which God establishes His ownership of us who are His.

"There is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men -- the man Jesus Christ (
Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:5)." ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Where is any Bible text inviting or urging us to pray to the Spirit, or to worship the Spirit? Those who search the Scriptures (which came by inspiration of the Spirit of God) find no instruction from God that we should pray to or through the Holy Spirit. Urged to not grieve the Spirit, led to accept and develop the gifts and fruit of the Spirit, we are not taught to pray to or through the Spirit of God. Why would we do so?

There's every reason to honor God. He made the worlds. He sustains and upholds all things by His power. In fact, He did and does these things through His Son. So we are taught to honor God and His Son.

Only in Jesus can eternal life be found. Since we are sure to die, it's wise that we seek Him who can bring us to eternal life. Jesus is the Way. Let's honor Jesus by loving and serving Him -- by doing all that we do "in His name."

Some Things Make Some
Feel Good. In God's Service
"Feeling Good" Is NOT Our Aim

In Romans 12, Paul urges us to worship BY serving. In recent years, many have an increased interest in worship which is separate from service. If the Devil can keep us sufficiently busy in our "sanctuaries," we'll not be out winning minds and hearts away from him in our communities.

God does not call us to isolate ourselves from those who need our help and witness, but rather to go out and interact with them! Jesus wants us to be salt in our communities and light to our neighbors. He wants us to notice our neighbors, know them, and bless them in His name! As Jesus did on this earth, Christians serve and share ... we teach and witness ...

This is not the same as spending our lives within beautiful "sanctuaries" away from the community. Our call is not to bury ourselves in "holy places," but rather to go out into the world with the gospel!

Those who read the New Testament are apt to see that Christian assemblies then were less for "worship" than for encouraging fellow servants to continuing worship of our God through witnessing to and serving those He loves and who are away from His "home."

We Worship When We
Serve Others For Jesus

Real Christian worship is serving God in His world. It's not a matter of sitting in padded pews watching professionals perform worship rituals while we passively listen and passionately applaud the performance(s).

Please read Romans 12:1,2. Worship is individually using our bodies for God by showing and telling His love by our deeds ... by investing OUR talents in His name ...

Paul's call is that worship should happen as our words and deeds to our family, friends, and others with whom we daily associate reflect God's glory and power. We're taught to worship as a "good Samaritan" once did! And we also on occasion can thrill to united praise and prayer. But not when we should be outside in His service.

"There is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men -- the man Jesus Christ (
Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:5)." ------------------------------------------------------------------------

The New Testament says much about how we should exalt Christ by testimony and example wherever we go. By our deeds, we worship. Does He say this has something to do with water for the thirsty and food for the hungry?

Some current emphases in our churches are obviously based on something other than New Covenant teachings and examples. As loyal disciples of Christ, we should do as we are taught and led to do by inspired Christians -- particularly the apostles of Christ whose teachings are in the New Testament. We worship God by serving others in His name!

Alone and together, we Christians should make it our primary goal to learn of and imitate JESUS! This is sure to please His Father, who is also our Father. We want to see Jesus. And then we want to show HIM to the world!

Later Comments

From: "Lloyd M. Pelfrey" Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997

Subject: Re: Praise God.
Receive the Spirit.

Ray, Thanks for the reply! The message at Hillsboro, OH, in which the worship and praise of the Holy Spirit was mentioned was one of mine. My subject was "The Foundation of the Church." My first point developed two things that are NOT foundations -- Peter, and the Holy Spirit.

Afterwards, most of the comments and questions involved the references to the Holy Spirit. I had commented about the "Pneumatomachian" controversy, and showed how the creeds had been developed to reflect that part of church history. Most of the people had never heard, or thought, of all these things before.

The issue of worshipping the Holy Spirit is not new in the Restoration.

Alvin Jennings did a biographical sketch of T. M. Allen, a pioneer Restoration preacher in Missouri. On pp. 197ff. Allen has a letter that he wrote to "Brother Stone." (Allen was a good friend of Barton W. Stone.) The caption on the letter is this: "Letters by Allen on the Question of Worshipping the Holy Spirit." There are two letters, dating back to 1830.

It would be nice to have the time to write on this topic, but that will have to wait -- for someone else, or until I retire.

The college had a community prayer breakfast this morning, and my 25 years as president were honored, including a Missouri House resolution introduced by Steve Gaw (Speaker of the House in MO). Steve is from Moberly.

I plan to change jobs next summer -- to retire from the presidency, but not quit working. My Bible still sanctions the concept of working. -- Yours and His,
Lloyd M. Pelfrey

And a follow-up letter --

From: "Lloyd M. Pelfrey"
To: "Ray Downen"
Date sent: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 14:25:37
Subject: Re: Praise God. Receive the Spirit.

Ray, Out of curiosity I just now checked your Viewpoint home place on the web. The only things of significance from the first communication about the Holy Spirit are these:

  1. The John 16:14 citation. It states one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit: "He will glorify me . . . ." This could be added to what Bro. Garrett provided.
  2. A statement was paraphrased from what Russell Boatman wrote in one of his works -- that there is no precept or practice of any prophet, priest, or patriarch ever praying to or praising the Holy Spirit -- this is true in all the dispensations.

Here is another thought that just came to mind. Westcott, in his commentary on Hebrews, has a special appendix at the end. In it he lists the doxologies of the NT. There are praises
to God the Father, God
the Son, and combinations thereof. None, however, were ever made to the Holy Spirit. (Again, cf. John 16:14.)

Yours and His, --
Lloyd M. Pelfrey
Moberly, Missouri


Note next what a brother says about honoring Jesus --

Date: Mon, 8 Sep 1997
Subject: The Meekness of Christ
The Word of Truth Publication

by Given O. Blakely

The MEEKNESS of Christ

"I am meek and lowly in heart" said Jesus Christ, the Object of Our Faith

Christ Jesus is the revealed Object of our faith and attention. Our consideration of Him is the determined means through which we are transformed into His likeness.

This is the meaning of 2 Corinthians 3:18. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

In this arrangement, our conformity to His likeness is in direct proportion to our perception of Him. If we lack in this comprehension of Him, we are correspondingly unlike Him in our character.

This is a sobering reality, and worthy of our undivided attention.

"There is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men -- the man Jesus Christ (Paul, in
1 Timothy 2:5)."

There is no room in the kingdom of God for competitive emphases -- things which contend with Christ for our attention and devotion.

God has invested everything in the Son, giving Him power over all flesh that He might give eternal life to all those who have been given to Him (John 17:2).

As we run the race to glory, we do so "looking unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2).

It is not possible to make progress in the faith without "looking unto Jesus."

Our spiritual growth depends upon the subordination of all competing interests in reference to understanding Christ Jesus.

The knowledge of the glory of God is only seen "in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

A proper understanding of, and affiliation with, the Lord depends upon our intent interest in the Son of God.

There is no eternally effective knowledge of God apart from Christ, in Whom the fulness of God dwells (Colossians 1:19; 2:9). It is not possible to overemphasize this aspect of the Kingdom.

The Lord has exhibited His most comely qualities in salvation. He has, so to speak, shown us His preferred characteristics; i.e., "I will have mercy and not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13; 12:7).

God would rather save us than condemn us. He did not send the Son into the world to condemn us, but that "the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).

He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Again, it is written, " ... God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:3-5).

With strong initiative and persistence, God seeks to save humanity. He has provided the means and incentive for everyone to be saved -- and it is all found in the Person of Jesus Christ.

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