Topics: how to teach that there’s one church, how to teach one must obey in order to be saved, why God no longer directly communicates with men, why suffering takes place
How do you teach someone that there is only one church?
The book of Ephesians provides a very clear and logical train of thought which leads to this conclusion:
- The church is called Christ’s body (Eph. 1:22-23).
- There is only one body; hence, only one church (Eph. 4:4).
- Christ is the Savior of the body, the church; thus, to be saved by Him you must be in His body, His church, of which there is only one (Eph. 5:23).
United is called for and division is condemned in the New Testament (John 17:20-23; Phil. 2:2; 1 Cor. 1:10-13). Different churches promoting differing doctrines while all claiming to follow Christ promote division and stifle unity.
We are repeatedly warned about false teachers who draw away disciples after themselves to promote their own doctrines, all while still claiming to be Christians (Matt. 7:15-27; Acts 20:29; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; etc.)
In pointing all this out, especially to those who are not part of the one church talked about in the Bible, one must take care to do so in a kind, non-argumentative, humble, gentle manner with the goal always being singular in purpose: to save that person’s soul by speaking the truth to them in love (2 Tim. 2:24-26; Eph. 4:15).
Getting angry or trying to “win the debate” because “you’ve got the Bible on your side” will accomplish nothing good for the soul of that person. Simply sow the seed by showing them what the Bible says.
How do you explain that we are saved by obedience?
First, acknowledge and whole-heartedly agree with the notion that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works of merit (Eph. 2:8-9). Usually, people who uphold that one does not have to obey God — or obey a certain commandment of God (like baptism) — believe so because they erroneously think that obeying God somehow cancels out the part grace plays in our salvation. Do your best to show them right from the start that you both believe and are thankful that God’s grace saves you.
Next, show them scriptures which clearly state that obedience is necessary for salvation (Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 5:9; Rom. 6:17-18).
Tie that in with grace by showing them that God’s grace actually “instructs” us to be obedient (Tit. 2:11-12), and that by being unrepentantly disobedient we forfeit our salvation and insult grace (Heb. 10:26-31; Rom. 6:1-2).
End by showing that these scriptures as a whole (Ps. 119:160a) show that salvation is the result of BOTH grace AND obedience.
Why does God no longer directly communicate with us?
Because He chose instead to now speak to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2), the Word (John 1:1, 14) which was inspired by His Spirit (2 Pet. 1:19-21).
As far as I remember, He has not revealed in His Word His specific reasons for doing so (cf. Deut. 29:29). He does infer that when all is said and done it would make no great difference in whether one obeys Him if He miraculously spoke to them versus communicating with them through His Word (Lk. 16:27-31).
Interestingly, if one adds up all the times the Bible reveals that God spoke to man directly, it did not happen as often as one might think. For example, centuries passed from the time the Bible records God speaking to Adam and Cain to the time it says He spoke to Noah. Hundreds of years passed from the time He spoke to Noah to the time He spoke to Abraham. 400 years passed from the time God spoke to Malachi at the end of the Old Testament and the time God spoke either directly or through angels to people in Jesus’ lifetime.
In all the cases we read of where God spoke to particular persons, note the silence regarding the vast numbers of people throughout the centuries to whom there is no indication that He directly spoke. Something to think about.
Why do we suffer?
- Suffering keeps this world from becoming too attractive to us. This world is not our home (1 Pet. 2:11). He has prepared something better for us (2 Cor. 5:1, 5). If there were no suffering, no one would want to leave this temporary world, desire heaven, and thus prepare themselves for heaven.
- Suffering brings out our best (Rom. 5:3-4).
- Suffering gives us an occasion to silence God’s enemies (1 Pet. 2:15).
- Suffering makes us appreciative and more dependent on God (Phil. 1:3-8; Acts 17:28).
- Suffering helps purify us spiritually (Jas. 1:2-5).
- Suffering makes us more sympathetic (2 Cor. 1:3-4; Rom. 12:15).
- Suffering teaches us how to pray (Phil. 4:6-7).
- Suffering may be the result of our own or others’ actions or choices.
- Suffering may be the work of Satan (Job; 1 Pet. 5:8-10).
- Suffering may be God disciplining us (Heb. 12:5-8) in order to correct us (Heb. 12:9), make us holy (Heb. 12:10) and righteous (Heb. 12:11), and keep us from being condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:32).