By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Some beliefs and practices set the church within the Bible apart from most named churches today:
The Resurrection of Jesus attests to His sinlessness and equality with God as Jesus is the fullness of Deity bodily (2 Cor 5:21; Col 2:9). Therefore, the words that Jesus taught and gave to His apostles are without error (John 6:63; 16:12–13; 17:8).
Love is the great quality of Christ’s disciples who are known by their love for God and one another so they keep God’s commands (John 13:35; 14:21–24; 1 John 3:10, 16; 5:1–3). Christ’s followers care for the needy (Acts 2:44–45; 4:34–35; 20:34–35).
The Bible is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching to make the person of God complete unto every good work (2 Tim 3:16–17). The first disciples were devoted to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). The apostle Paul declared, “Maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor 11:2b). Jesus spoke against traditions of men that reject God’s commands (Mark 7:1–9).
Baptism was a burial in water immediately done for repentant believers unto the forgiveness of sins and is the moment of salvation (Acts 2:38; 16:32–33; Col 2:12–13; 1 Pet 3:21). Jesus commanded baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit to make disciples (Matt 28:19–20). One baptism is essential to the Christian faith (Eph 4:5).
The Assembly is when churches in the Bible gathered to break bread for the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 10:16–17; 11: cf. 1 Cor 16:1–2). The whole congregation came together not for people to display gifts for a show but for the congregation to praise God and to edify one another with encouragement (1 Cor 14; Heb 2:12; 10:24–25). In assembly, the congregation sang making melody with one voice, with intelligible words, and without musical instruments (1 Cor 14:15; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16).
Leadership in biblical churches was made of men as God created man first and gave man the role of servant leaders in the church and the home (Eph 5:23–24; 1 Tim 2:13–14). In the Bible, elders were pastors who led each church (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:1–3). The apostles helped appoint elders in each church who were men that met specific qualifications (Acts 14:23; 1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9).
Marriage consists of one man and one woman for life. Jesus taught this by God’s creation of male and female to become one flesh (Mark 10:6–9; cf. Gen 2:24). Jesus allowed divorce and remarriage upon sex outside of marriage (Matt 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor 7:10–11).
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
One of the most asked questions about God is “Who created God?” No one should think of God as just another person like the man down the street or some “man in the sky” whose judgments are merely opinions. By asking “Who created God?”, a person needs to first comprehend the definition of God.
According to the Bible, God is personal, eternal, and the Creator of the universe. The Bible declares, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). The statement “In the beginning, God” claims that God is eternal and exists without cause. The Bible depicted God revealing His identity for Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exod 3:14). How can God exist without a cause? Why does God’s existence exclude God from having a cause?
The universe must have a first cause to begin. Without a first cause, infinite time would need to exist in the past. Infinite time in the past is an absurdity that scholars know as an “infinite regress.” An infinite past is impossible, because infinite time would require that the present now would never come to exist. The present now shows the necessity for “the beginning” and the first cause is reasonably God who “created the heavens and the earth.” While infinite time in the universe is absurd, eternity beyond the universe is necessary for God as the first cause.
As far as humanity can observe, everything within the universe had a beginning, and everything that begins has a cause. Whatever has a beginning has a cause. The universe began. Therefore, the universe has a cause. Cosmologists observe the decrease of usable energy in the universe and the spreading out of galaxies in an expanding universe as demonstrating that the universe began. When one rewinds these events in time, the conclusion is that the universe had a beginning. As Moses recorded in Genesis 1:1; time, energy, space, and matter has a first cause — God.
The first cause of the universe must exist beyond the universe and explain the constant balance of the laws of the universe. One may consider possible causes of the universe such as a mindless multiverse generator or a flux in a timeless void (i.e. changes in nothingness). However, inventing possibilities is limitless and is thus faulty reasoning. For example, one may suppose that a computer fell down some stairs and the impacts upon the computer wrote this article. That is possible but not probable. Many possibilities exist, few options are plausible, and one option has the greatest explanatory power.
The universe had a beginning and must have a first cause that is uncaused. The Bible revealed, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” From where did God come? God declared, “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god” (Isa 44:6b). God is eternal, uncaused, and has no creator.
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Children cannot realize the temptations that a teenager faces. Teenagers cannot understand the temptations that adults must address. As Christians grow older, temptations that were never a threat become threats as hearts have become strong in opposing old temptations while oblivious and hardened to give into others (cf. Titus 2:1–8).
When a believer first becomes a Christian, they are often unprepared to confront temptations. Each person faces temptations by their own lusts and desires (Jas 1:14–15). The world has no hope of self-control as Paul revealed, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom 7:15 ESV). Furthermore, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor 10:13).
Jesus has been tempted in every way like man and yet without sin (Heb 4:15). He is able to help those who are tempted. God promised always to make a way of escape so that the Christian can endure (1 Cor 10:12–13). To live a holy life, Peter instructed Christians to prepare their minds by setting one’s hope fully on the grace revealed at Christ’s coming (1 Pet 1:13). Peter emphasized that Christians are to be holy in all conduct as God is holy (1 Pet 1:15–16). God ransomed the faithful from futile ways by the blood of Jesus Christ who is without spot or blemish (1:17–20). For each person to have faith and hope in God, God resurrected Jesus from the dead (1:21). God’s holiness as seen in Jesus Christ is the standard for Christians to live holy lives. That means that people must know their God who came in the flesh and realize His holy nature as the standard of morality and virtue.
God has provided instruction for confronting and enduring temptations. Jesus told His apostles to pray not to enter to temptation (Matt 6:13; 26:41; Mark 14:38). By the Spirit of God, Paul directed Christians to put off the old self that is corrupt through deceitful desires and be renewed in the spirit of the mind to put on the new self (Eph 4:22–23). The new self is one that is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24). Furthermore, to help confront sin, Paul taught to put on Christ by making no provision for the flesh (Rom 13:13–14). Evidently, one who surrounds themselves with temptations will struggle to keep their mind and spirit committed to holy living (1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14). The Scriptures teach the faithful to flee temptations (1 Cor 6:18; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22).
When Christians are ready to face temptations, their training is complete in these acts of righteousness having put on the armor of God (Eph 6:10–20). The Christian’s strength to confront comes from God (Eph 6:10–11). God has given the faithful an armor of truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, the word, and prayer to withstand evil. God has prepared a way of escape to endure temptations.
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Many churches claim and teach multiple baptisms — spiritual, in water, and by the Holy Spirit. However, many Christians realize that Paul revealed there is “one baptism” (Eph 4:5). Jesus commanded that one baptism when He resurrected. Jesus declared, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 ESV). Christ also taught, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).
The one baptism is the baptism that Peter commanded those who asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” as they were cut to the heart for they had crucified Christ. Peter instructed, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). That one baptism in Jesus’s name is baptism in water (Acts 10:47–48). The one baptism in water is also to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Throughout 1 Corinthians, baptism is in the name of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:13). Paul compared baptism to Moses leading Israel through the sea and under the cloud (1 Cor 10:1–2). Paul revealed that those who have been washed in Jesus’s name are justified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:11). This is the baptism that Paul revealed for those who God joins to the body of Christ — the church (1 Cor 12:13). In the Book of Acts, Luke reported that those baptized were saved and added to the body of disciples (Acts 2:41, 47). Furthermore, Paul observed that baptism is for the dead resurrecting when Christ returns (1 Cor 15:29; cf. Rom 6:5).
The Scriptures reveal that baptism unites the repentant believer with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:4). The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the saving gospel (1 Cor 15:1–4). This one baptism is the means of God working and not a work of man. Paul taught, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,” (Col 2:12–13).
Christians can unite that there is one baptism. Peter revealed, “baptism now saves you” because one is born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3; 3:21). Ananias urged Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).