SHARPER THAN A SWORD

SERMONS

Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

"JESUS, THE WAY OUT OF RELIGIOUS CONFUSION!"

1. Many people who wish to follow Jesus are turned off by the multitude of

denominations and all the conflicting doctrines and practices taught by those

professing to be Christians.

 

2. Such distaste for denominational division is in keeping with the spirit of the New

Testament.

a. Jesus prayed fervently for unity.

John 17:21 “that they all may be one, as You,

Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."

b. Paul condemned religious division -1 Corinthians 1:10-13.

 

3. While some denominational leaders like to justify their existence, we know that

religious confusion does not come from God!

a. God is the author of peace, not confusion -

1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not the

author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

b. Religious strife is in harmony with Paul's rebuke in

1 Corinthians 3:3-4 “for you are

still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? [4] For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?”

Galatians 5:19-21 “The works of the flesh.”

 

4. Even so, is it possible for people today to simply be Christians, and not a part of

the denominational division of today?

[The answer is Yes! And Jesus shows us the Way out of Religious Confusion! Notice Jesus own example in the religious climate of His day]

 

I. The Example of Jesus.
A. Note the Religious climate of His day…..

1. When Jesus came to this earth, the Israelites were living under God's law

given by Moses.

2. In that law, God had not made any provision for the division of His people into

religious sects or parties.

3. Yet by the time of Jesus, the Jews had formed several distinct religious parties:

a. Pharisees (somewhat conservative).
b. Sadducees (very liberal, the “modernists” of their day).
c. Essenes (radical isolationists).
d. Herodians, Zealots (political religionists).

4. It was assumed that all who were serious about religion would be associated

with one of these groups.

B. He maintained a Nonsectarian Relationship with God……

1. To which of these groups did Jesus belong? None of these groups!

2. Instead, He maintained a “nonsectarian” relationship with God to the very end.

a. As an Israelite, living at a time when the Law of Moses was still in effect,He was simply an “Israelite”

b. In addition, He encouraged all to live by the Law while it was still in effect. Matthew. 5:17-20.
c. In other words, He encouraged all to simply be what the Law of Moses intended them to be; “Israelites.”

 

C. What Would Jesus be Today?

1. Would He be a Baptist, or Catholic, or Presbyterian or Methodist, etc., ?

2. If He was simply an Israelite then would He not simply be a “Christian” today?

3. That was certainly what His disciples came to be called.

Acts 11:26 “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

The example Jesus has set for us is clear: just be what God originally intended under the Law which is in effect. Since in the New Testament the “Law of Christ,” the disciples of Christ were called “Christians,” so we should be!

Not only should we be content with being “called” Christians, we should also be concerned with “just being Christians.” Nothing more, nothing less! But how can we be sure that we are simply Christians, members of the church we read about in the New Testament? It helps to see what the Bible tells us about….

 

II. The Lord's Church.
A. Promised by Jesus….

1. Jesus promised to build His church.

Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

2. The word “Church” comes from the Greek Word ekklesia, which means “a

called out group, an assembly, a congregation.”

3. Jesus was promising to create His own group of people who have been

“Called”.

 

B. Established Through Preaching the Gospel.

1. How does this “calling” take place?

2. According to Paul, we are “called” by the gospel.

2 Thessalonians 2:14 “to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

3. On the first Pentecost after the ascension of Christ, we see by preaching the

gospel Peter “called out” those who were willing to express their faith in Jesus

Acts 2:38-41.

4. Notice that those who gladly responded in faith, repentance and baptism were

“added”.

a. To what and by whom were they “added?”

b. We find the answer in:

Acts 2:47 “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved”

5. The day of Pentecost was the beginning of the Lord's church (His ekklesia).

6. This “called-out” assembly or group was created when the gospel was

proclaimed and people responded to it.

 

C. Expanded through Preaching the Gospel.

1. At first, the church existed only in Jerusalem.

2. As the gospel spread, the people responded to it, groups of these saved people

in various cities met together.

3. Each group became known as a church in a local sense (in contrast to the

church universal which is made up of all those saved throughout the world).

4. For example during Paul's first journey, many such churches were established

Acts 14:21-23.

5. By simply teaching the gospel of Christ, a local church was formed when those

who obeyed the gospel joined together in their work and worship.

 

D. Edified Through the Apostles' Doctrine….

1. Though united in Christ, these local churches were independent of any human

association or federation of churches.

2. Christ directed them through His inspired apostles, as they taught them how to

worship and work together.

Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

3. Sometimes this teaching by the apostles was done directly, other times by

appointed servants.

1 Corinthians 4:17 “For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”

4. Just as often, the teaching was done through the epistles or letters written by

the apostles .

1 Corinthians 14:37 “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”

1 Timothy 3:14-15.

 

When we read what the Bible says about the Lord's church, we learn that by responding to the gospel and paying close heed to the “Apostles doctrine.” (Acts 2:42) people in the first century were able to be Christians only, without all the confusion prevalent today. Is it possible for us to do this today? Yes! Here is how.

 

III. The Way out of Religious Confusion.
A. Accept the call of the Gospel….

1. Remember, Christ calls us into His ekklesia (church) through the gospel.

2. Therefore, we can begin by obeying the same instructions that Peter gave on

the day of Pentecost –

Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


3.
Repenting of our sins, and being baptized for the remission of our sins, we then

receive the same blessings as did the 3000 on that day: Salvation!

4. By being saved in this manner, we know that the Lord truly adds us to His

church just as He added them. Acts 2:47.

-----What Then?-----

 

B. Follow the Example of the Early Christians….

1. The early Christians continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine Acts 2:42.

a. They joined no other religious organization, and neither should we!
b. In Christ, we are automatically united with all others who are in Him!

2. As members of the Lord's church, we should study carefully the New

Testament description of the church that continued steadfastly in the apostles'

doctrine.

a. This description is found in the Book of Acts and in the Epistles which follow it.
b. It is here that we will find instruction from the Lord's apostles on how to Worship the Lord acceptably. To be scripturally organized as local congregations. To live and work together as Christians, spreading the gospel of Christ through word and example.

3. Since the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit, we may be sure their

instructions were exactly what Jesus wanted them to be!

a. If we duplicate the early churches by following the apostles' instructions, we will simply be “Christian,” and we can be certain the Lord is pleased with us.
b. As Jesus said to His apostles about those who would receive or reject their instructions; Luke 10:16 “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."

 

Conclusion: Simply being a Christian and duplicating a New Testament

congregation is not as difficult as one might think……

There are literally thousands of such congregations throughout the world.

 

1. By following the example and teachings of Jesus, as revealed by His apostles, we

can be led out of the religious confusion that dominates the religious world today!

2. Do you want to be simply a Christian? A member of the Lord's church we read

about in the New Testament?

3. If so, then do just what they were told to do in Acts 2:36-38.

a. And you have the assurance of God's word that you will then be added by the Lord Himself to His Church. Acts 2:47.