Changes are never cheap. Renovating a house is expensive…but restoring a home is infinitely more costly! No one ever worked through a difficult, hurting marriage without paying a very high price. This fact alone causes many partners to refuse the process. The pain of changing is, in the opinion of many, too great to bear. But for those who do change, how sweet it is! God declares that the husband-wife relationship is to portray the deep, close, loving relationship Christ has with His bride, the church.
When we think of institutions we often think of places where delinquent, defective, or dependent people need help and a place to stay away from society. This could well describe the institution of marriage today—an arrangement to pair together delinquent, defective, and dependent people, not for a lifetime but merely for a time. For many marriages, this definition is all too true. But it doesn’t have to describe your marriage.
The health of the church is dependent upon balance. Balance between evangelism and instruction. Between caring for one another and reaching out to those we’ve never met. Between command and comfort, encouragement and exhortation, quietness and activity, taking in and giving out. How often a church fails to maintain this essential balance! For reasons right and wrong, ministries can slip into extremes and miss the other side of a good thing. It is with this in mind that we come to appreciate worship.
Few things steal a church’s joy like discouragement…especially if that discouragement comes not from outside circumstances but from inside instigators. Scripture tells us that we are to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). But far too often we choose instead to speak words that dishearten, hinder, and deter each other from living the life God intends. Just imagine being part of a church family where everyone encourages one another, builds each other up in word and deed, exhorts each other in truth, and comforts one another.
What a remarkable thing Christ is doing! Out of every continent, country, and nation, He is reaching out to build His body, the church. Held together by the cords of love and unity, groups of people the world over gather to celebrate their faith. But the church is not only universal in scope; it is local as well. Small parts of the whole…geographical segments of called-out ones, placed in suburban communities, quiet countrysides, and busy, metropolitan sites.
We have examined the Scriptures to find out what we are to be involved in between now and when Christ returns. But what is the Lord doing? What is He concerned about during this present time? The answer is clear, according to the New Testament. It’s the same project He’s been working on since the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18), and that is what He has been doing. In this lesson, we will consider what building the church means, what it includes, and why it is so important.
Paranormal phenomena and speculation about the afterlife usually draw immediate attention. Everyone, it seems, looks with interest when the curtain of death is lifted. Books, seminars, and television programs abound with claims of out-of-body death experiences, speaking with the dead, and so on. Are these illusions or reality? In Luke’s gospel, Jesus recounts an intriguing story of one who spoke from the grave.
Where do we go from here? What will happen to us when life is over? What lies ahead…in the misty, shadowy, fuzzy world beyond the grave? What will be our final destiny? Many will say, “Death. Death ends everything.” Popular answer, but it’s wrong. Death may be the last stop in our earthly journey, but it cannot be considered our ultimate destination. Death is merely the tunnel that transports us to the very real world beyond. And the Bible is the only reliable guidebook for our final journey.
With all our daily activities and responsibilities, we tend to push the central doctrines of the Bible onto the back burner. But these truths are vital to our daily Christian walk. Consider the doctrine of the return of Christ—what we believe about this important doctrine affects the way we live our lives. And if there’s one thing we can know for sure, it’s that Jesus will come back to earth one day! But what do we do until then?
Few things are clearer in Scripture than Christ’s return. Once He revealed the news of His death and departure from this earth, He wasted no time in reassuring His followers that He would indeed be coming back. Again and again, God’s Word includes statements, hints, symbols, implications, and undeniable predictions of the promise of Christ’s return. Cynics may sneer and doubters may laugh, but our Lord keeps His promises. He will do it exactly as He predicted; no question. But there is a question regarding our believing in His return.