On the Rock I Rest

By William Oldham

   One day Jesus asked His apostles who the Jews were saying He was. They told Him that some were saying He was John the Baptist, raised from the dead; others were saying He was the prophet Elijah; and still others were saying He was Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Jesus then asked them, “But what about you all, who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

          Jesus then said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:17-18

          The Roman Catholic Church has taught for several hundred years that when Jesus said, “…I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…”, Jesus was saying that Peter was the rock on which He would build His church. They say this because in the Greek, Peter means rock. But, is that what Jesus was saying? How important is it to the church to know exactly what Jesus meant? And, how can we know what He meant?

          When Jesus said He was going to build a church, He wasn’t referring to a massive cathedral or a building of any kind. He was speaking of creating a race of people who would be chosen by God to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who would be a special possession of God; a people who God would call out of darkness into His wonderful light; a people who would declare His praises. 1 Peter 2:9

          From the day the Holy Spirit came to dwell in believers, as recorded in Acts 2, up unto this very day, God has been calling men and women, boys and girls to be members of Christ’s church. For nearly 2000 years Christ has been building His church; God has been calling people from all walks of life, and from every nation, tribe, people and language to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way God chose to call them.

          Jesus said His church would be built on a rock that even Hell itself couldn’t stop the building. Is there anywhere in all of God’s holy word that even hints that something God-ordained, and eternal in the heavens would be built on a man? All of Scripture testifies that God appointed one Person, and one Person only to build His church, and that Person is God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. In regards to Christ and His church, and the identity of the Rock, Peter himself tells us:

“…As you come to [Jesus], the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says, “See, I lay in Zion, a chosen and precious Cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:4-6

          There can only be one cornerstone to a building; the Scriptures teach that the apostles are the foundation of the church and Christ is the Cornerstone (Rock) of the church. Only those who believe in and obey Christ and His commands are placed into the building as living stones.

          How serious is it for a professing church to say that the church of the living God is built on a man? In saying so, they openly reject the Rock on which their eternal souls must rest to have eternal life. The church of God rests solely on THE ROCK!

Brother Bill is a Bible teacher and can be contacted at bboldham@sbcglobal.net

LOOKING UNTO JESUS

By William Oldham

“Therefore we also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

          The aim of the whole Bible is to draw man back to His Creator, the Lord God Almighty. To bring man to believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The Bible clearly reveals, in words easy to understand, God and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The Word of God tells man everything He needs to know about God and Christ, in truth and in love.

          God has allotted man so many years here on earth in which to come to know, love and serve Him. Scripture tells us that God has numbered our days before we were born. Psalm 139:16 The writer of Hebrews likens this life to a race that God has set before us, a race that every child of God should want to finish successfully.

          In order to run our race successfully, we must lay aside everything that would hinder or hold us back. Jesus said, “…in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Jesus ran the course that His Father had set before Him, and He finished it successfully. Jesus experienced all the situations of life that weigh folks down.

          Jesus never worried about where He would live, what clothes to wear, or having something to eat. He taught us that our Father in heaven knows what we need, and if we would seek His kingdom and righteousness, He would provide everything we need. Matthew 6:33 Jesus trusted His Father completely, entrusting His life to Him, one day at a time. That’s the way Jesus ran His race.

          In order to run our race successfully, we must lay aside the sin that so easily entraps us. Man speculates on this point but the Scriptures are clear; Jesus was, “…tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15 Here is God’s word on anyone who claims to be a Christian and lives in sin.

“…[Jesus] appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him” 1 John 3:4-6

“Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” 1 John 2:4 

          To run our race successfully we must endure the troubles, trials and temptations that life throws at us. To encourage us to, “Keep on keeping on,” the Scripture reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. They are not watching us, as some say. It is their individual testimonies of how they trusted and obeyed God, and how God faithfully brought them through every trial.

          Finally, and most important of all: if we would run our race successfully, we must be looking unto Jesus. This is not a Sunday morning affair. The example Scripture gives us is that of the love relationship of husband and wife, whereby the wife submits herself to her husband in everything, and the husband loves her as his own body. 

          The church is the body of Christ; He laid down His life for her; Jesus ever nourishes and cares for her; the church in turn, by trust and obedience, ever looks unto Jesus, waiting for His return for His bride.

Brother Bill is a Bible teacher and can be contacted at bboldham@sbcglobal.net

So Great a Salvation

By William Oldham

“…We must pay the most careful attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” Hebrews 2:1-3

          God’s great salvation is all about you, your past, your present and your future. It’s all about this present world and the world to come; it’s all about the coming judgment day; a day in which all of mankind will appear before the Lord to be judged. The Lord God Almighty has appointed His Son, to be the Proclaimer, Purchaser, Administrator, and Judge of His great salvation. 

          Jesus spent the last years of His life announcing, and teaching those who were willing to hear, about God’s great salvation. Jesus proclaimed what salvation is about, it is for you.

“My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40 

          There was a purchase price necessary for your salvation; it was the priceless blood of the spotless Lamb of God. The purchase price was paid when Jesus gave His body and His blood on the cross. In His death and burial, Jesus took our place against the judgment of God. When God raised up His Son Jesus from the dead, He set His seal of approval on all Jesus said and did.

          Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended into Heaven and was seated as Lord over all in Heaven and on earth. He is the Administrator of God’s great salvation. Jesus is presently working, caring for, shepherding, and interceding for all who look to Him and believe in Him. And, “…He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He ever lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

          What God’s great salvation means to you: when you look to Jesus and believe in Him, you are born again; this comes from God. Born again means you become a new creature in Christ. It means that in God’s eyes you have no past; you are now reconciled to God and adopted as His child. God’s great salvation means you possess a present righteousness, and a glorious future.

          There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. They are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the Day Jesus comes for them. God supplies all their need and makes all things work together for their good, forming them into the image of His Son. The workings of God’s great salvation for man will find completion on the Day Jesus returns for them. On that Day, all in Christ, both dead and alive will be given an incorruptible, immortal, glorious body. Following that comes the fate of the present heavens and earth, and all who have refused Christ Jesus.

“The Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3:10 Following this, comes the great white throned judgment when, the dead, great and small, shall stand before Christ and be judged according to what they have done as recorded in the books. Revelation 20:11-15 

Those in Christ will not be there! “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24 And then….

“…In keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13

          We must pay most careful attention to what we have heard. The present state of the professing church is ample evidence of what happens when it drifts away from God’s word. Be vigilant, because God has given us so great a salvation!

Brother Bill is a Bible teacher and can be contacted at bboldham@sbcglobal.net

The Time is Here

By William Oldham

“…A time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

          The Scriptures offend unbelievers because they are in rebellion against God and they don’t want to hear the truth concerning God’s condemnation of their lifestyles. I am reminded of a story in the Scriptures. It was a time when the king of Judah and the people were practicing idolatry and living very immoral lives; with their mouths, they worshipped Him, but their hearts were completely turned away from Him.

God sent a letter to the officials and the king, warning them of His impending judgment, which was going to be devastating; their rebellious ways were going to destroy them. But God loved His people, He wanted to them to turn from their wicked ways and return to Him. Rebellion against God brings destruction and death; obeying Him brings protection and provision—Always: God changes not!

          The king’s response to God’s heartfelt warning was total contempt. It was winter and the king was sitting by a fireplace. As an official would read three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the letter and threw it into the fire. He did that until the whole letter was cut up and burned up in the fire. Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. Jeremiah 36:22-25

          Pagans who act in such a manner is understandable; but this king was one of God’s chosen people and was supposed to be the shepherd of God’s people. He was called to lead them in the truth of their God, Jehovah. But his contempt towards God’s word openly demonstrated the wickedness of his heart. His identity was manifest: he was a false shepherd.

          Today, the church of God has many preachers, pastors and teachers who claim to be “shepherds” of Jesus’ flock; but in truth, are they? We have been warned by Jesus Himself that false shepherds would come. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15

          The apostle Peter warned the church: “…There will be false teachers among you, who will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1-2

          How can you know for sure that the preacher or teacher you listen to and follow is a true or false teacher? The answer is crystal clear.

          A true teacher will always teach from the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament; from them they will teach and preach Christ—ALWAYS! From the Scriptures, they will teach faith, hope and love; they will teach obedience to Jesus Christ’s commandments. They will teach of judgment to come, of Heaven for the saved and Hell for the wicked. 

          A true teacher will proclaim that Jesus died to save sinners and in order to be saved you must be born again; that no man can come to the Father except through Christ for He is the way, the truth and the life. They will lead you to the narrow path that leads to everlasting life.

          A false teacher will look very attractive, charming, and will speak smooth words, all to draw you away from the Scriptures, thus drawing you away from Christ. They will deceitfully lead you into a lifestyle that conforms to this world, and lead you down the broad way that leads to destruction.

Here’s the truth: Whoever believes in Jesus is saved; whoever doesn’t believe in the name of Jesus is condemned. They are condemned because they refuse to come to Christ; they are in the darkness of sin and love it because their deeds are evil. They hate the light of Scripture because it exposes their wicked ways. John 3:16-21

Now is the time to come to Jesus Christ!

Brother Bill is a Bible teacher and can be contacted at bboldham@sbdglobal.net