6 Months have passed since beginning our work with the Bethel Congregation in May of this year and I feel that it has been a very positive relationship and productive as well. I am looking forward to the next 6 months and even more positive things happ
What To Expect When You Visit Us at the Bethel congregation of the churches of Christ
WHO ARE WE:
We are a long time established congregation of the Lord's Church in this area.
We are a part of the family of God our Creator, Christ our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit our Comforter and not just a gathering of individuals. We are real, caring, and loving people who are trying to live and serve Christ in difficult and challenging times while helping others along life's path. We are servants of the Most High King - Jesus Christ.
We believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world because God teaches us this through the Bible. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). In God's love for mankind, he gave us the very best.
When you need a family, a friend...or a safe, sincere God fearing and loving place to worship God, then we offer that to you. When you come to worship with us you will not be singled out and embarrassed in any way, you will be warmly and lovingly greeted and invited to stay around after our worship services have concluded and let get to know each other better. You are our honored guest.
You can expect to find our worship to God to be in a decent and orderly fashion, I Corinthians 14:40. We will partake of the communion, the Lord's supper, every Sunday, Acts 20:7, in order to remember Jesus' death on the Cross for our sins and atonement, Romans 5:11. We will sing praises to God Almighty in "a Capella", Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 , Hebrews 13:15. We will study and present a lesson from God's Word Acts 2:42, 20:7 . We will give to God an offering from the many blessings God has blessed us with from loving and grateful hearts, I Corinthians 16:1,2 & II Corinthians 9:6,7 in order to carry on the work and ministries God has given to us. We will offer up Prayers of thanksgiving, guidance and for forgiveness.
The purpose and Mission of the Church of Christ, Bethel congregation is the same as given by Jesus Christ when He gave the "Great Commission" in Matthew 28:19 - 20, before ascending back into Heaven. - "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, teaching them to observe all things that i have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen."
The Bethel congregation of the churches of Christ has been established in Greenwood, (near Lebanon, TN) Tennessee in order to fulfill that commandment of Christ, making disciples in the way authorized and commanded by the Head of the Church, Christ.
There is only ONE way to become a part of this Body, the Church of Jesus Christ, and that is by Jesus adding one to the Body when we obey the Gospel Message of Life, Acts 2:41,47. Jesus says," If you love me, keep my commandments" John 14:15.
He commands us to be baptized into Him (Galatians 3:27) in order to put Him on and for the remission of our sins as we see in that Great Commission, Mark 16:16. It is in baptism that the WORK of God takes place, Colossians 2:12. It is baptism that "washes away our sins", Acts 22:16. It is through baptism that one is saved, I Peter 3:21.
Simply put the our Purpose is to present to the World - God's plan of Salvation;
God's Plan for Man's Salvation
1. Baptism is a birth (John 3:5).
2. Baptism is a washing (Acts 22:16).
3. Baptism is a burial (Romans 6:4).
4. Baptism is a planting (Romans 6:5).
5. Baptism is a resurrection (Colossians 2:12).
6. Baptism is "for remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).
7. Baptism puts a person "into Christ" (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3).
8. Baptism is for penitent believers only (not infants who cannot believe) (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; Acts 18:8).
9. There is one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).
10. Baptism is an immersion in water. "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:36-38).
The Church is the Body of Christ of which He is the head, Ephesians 1:22-23. Every member of the Body is as important as the next, I Corinthians 12: 12-24. And as such, we care about each other, we weep with each other when there are times of weeping, we rejoice with each other when there are time of rejoicing and we bear each other’s burdens, I Corinthians 12:25 -27, Galatians 6:2.
To continue about the churches of Christ -
Who are the churches of Christ ?
...and what do they believe in?
by Batsell Barrett Baxter
· What is the distinctive plea of the church of Christ?
· Historical background of the Restoration movement
· How many churches of Christ are there?
· How are the churches organizationally connected?
· How are the churches of Christ governed?
· What does the church of Christ believe about the Bible ?
· Do members of the churches of Christ believe in virgin birth?
· Does the church of Christ believe in predestination?
· Why does the church of Christ baptize only by immersion?
· Is infant baptism practiced?
· Do ministers of the church hear confession?
· Are prayers addressed to the saints?
· How often is the Lord's supper eaten?
· What kind of music is used in the worship?
· Does the church of Christ believe in heaven and hell?
· Does the church of Christ believe in purgatory?
· By what means does the church secure financial support?
· Does the church of Christ have a creed ?
· How does one become part of the family of God?
What is the distinctive plea of the church of Christ?
It is primarily a plea for religious unity based upon the Bible. In a divided religious world it is believed that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which most, if not all, of the God-fearing people of the land can unite. This is an appeal to go back to the Bible. It is a plea to speak where the Bible speak and to remain silent where the Bible is silent in all matters that pertain to religion. It further empathizes that in everything religious there must be a "Thus saith the Lord" for all that is done. The objective is religious unity of all believers in Christ. The basis is the New Testament. The method is the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
The Historical background of the Restoration Movement
One of the earliest advocates of the return to New Testament Christianity, as a means of achieving unity of all believers in Christ, was James O'Kelly of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1793 he withdrew from the Baltimore conference of his church and called upon others to join him in taking the Bible as the only creed. His influence was largely felt in Virginia and North Carolina where history records that some seven thousand communicants followed his leadership toward a return to primitive New Testament Christianity.
In 1802 a similar movement among the Baptists in New England was led by Abner Jones and Elias Smith. They were concerned about "denominational names and creeds" and decided to wear only the name Christian, taking Bible as their only guide. In 1804, in the western frontier state of Kentucky, Barton W. Stone and several other Presbyterian preachers took similar action declaring that they would take the Bible as the "only sure guide to heaven." Thomas Campbell, and his illustrious son, Alexander Campbell, took similar steps in the year 1809 in what is now the state of West Virginia. They contended that nothing should be bound upon Christians as a matter of doctrine which is not as old as the New Testament. Although these four movements were completely independent in their beginnings eventually they became one strong restoration movement because of their common purpose and plea. These men did not advocate the starting of a new church, but rather a return to Christ's church as described in the Bible.
Members of the church of Christ do not conceive of themselves as a new church started near the beginning of the 19th century. Rather, the whole movement is designed to reproduce in contemporary times the church originally established on Pentecost, A.D. 30. The strength of the appeal lies in the restoration of Christ's original church.
How many churches of Christ are there?
The most recent dependable estimate lists more than 15,000 individual churches of Christ. The "Christian Herald," a general religious publication which presents statistics concerning all the churches, estimates that the total membership of the churches of Christ is now 2,000,000. There are more than 7000 men who preach publicly. Membership of the church is heaviest in the southern states of the United States, particularly Tennessee and Texas, though congregations exist in each of the fifty states and in more than eighty foreign countries. Missionary expansion has been most extensive since the second World War in Europe, Asia and Africa. More than 450 full time workers are supported in foreign countries. The churches of Christ now have five times as many members as were reported in the U.S. Religious Census of 1936.
How are the churches organizationally connected?
Following the plan of organization found in the New Testament, churches of Christ are autonomous. Their common faith in the Bible and adherence to its teachings are the chief ties which bind them together. There is no central headquarters of the church and no organization superior to the elders of each local congregation. Congregations do cooperate voluntarily in supporting the orphans and the aged, in preaching the gospel in new fields, and in other similar works.
Members of the church of Christ conduct forty colleges and secondary schools, as well as seventy-five orphanages and homes for the aged. There are approximately 40 magazines and other periodicals published by individual members of the church. A nationwide radio and television program, known as "The Herald of Truth" is sponsored by the Highland Avenue church in Abilene, Texas. Much of its annual budget of $1,200,000 is contributed on a free-will basis by other churches of Christ. The radio program is currently heard on more than 800 radio stations, while the television program is now appearing on more than 150 stations. Another extensive radio effort known as "World Radio" owns a network of 28 stations in Brazil alone, and is operating effectively in the United States and a number of other foreign countries, and is being produced in 14 languages. An extensive advertising program in leading national magazines began in November 1955. In Nashville, the Brotherhood churches of Christ Radio Ministry can be heard on WVOL 1470 AM, Sunday mornings from 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
The "tie that binds" is a common loyalty to the principles of the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
How are the churches of Christ governed?
In each congregation, which has existed long enough to become fully organized, there is a plurality of elders or presbyters who serve as the governing body. These men are selected by the local congregations on the basis of qualifications set down in the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-8). Serving under the elders are deacons, teachers, and evangelists or ministers. The latter do not have the authority equal to or superior to the elders. The elders are shepherds or overseers who serve under the headship of Christ according to the New Testament, which is a kind of constitution. There is no earthly authority superior to the elders of the local church.
What does the church of Christ believe about the Bible?
The original autographs of the sixty six books which make up the Bible are considered to have been divinely inspired, by which it is meant that they are infallible and authoritative. Reference to the scriptures is made in settling every religious question. A pronouncement from the scripture is considered the final word. The basic textbook of the church and the basis for all preaching is the Bible.
Do members of the churches of Christ believe in the virgin birth?
Yes. The statement in Isaiah 7:14 is taken as a prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ. New Testament passages such as Matthew 1:20, 25, are accepted at face value as declarations of the virgin birth. Christ is accepted as the only begotten Son of God, uniting in his person perfect divinity and perfect manhood.
Does the church of Christ believe in predestination?
Only in the sense that God predestines the righteous to be eternally saved and the unrighteous to be eternally lost. The statement of the apostle Peter, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is acceptable unto him" (Acts 10:34-35.) is taken as an evidence that God did not predestine individuals to be eternally saved or lost, but that each man determines his own destiny.
Why does the church of Christ baptize only by immersion?
The word baptize comes from the Greek word "baptizo" and literally means, "to dip, to immerse, to plunge." In addition to the literal meaning of the word, immersion is practiced because it was the practice of the church in apostolic times. Still further, only immersion conforms to the description of baptisms as given by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-5 where he speaks of it as a burial and resurrection.
Is infant baptism practiced?
No. Only those who have reached the "age of accountability" are accepted for baptisms. It is pointed out that the examples given in the New Testament are always of those who have heard the gospel preached and have believed it. Faith must always precede baptism, so only those old enough to understand and believe the gospel are considered fit subjects for baptism.
Do ministers of the church hear confession?
No. Ministers or evangelists of the church have no special prerogatives. They do not wear the title of Reverend or Father, but are addressed simply by the term Brother as are all other men of the church. Along with elders and others they do counsel and advise those seeking help.
Are prayers addressed to the saints?
No. God the Father is considered the only one to whom the prayers may be addressed. It is further understood that Christ stands in a mediatorial position between God and man (Hebrews 7:25). All prayers are therefore offered through Christ, or in the name of Christ (John 16:23-26).
How often is the Lord's supper eaten?
It is expected that every member of the church will assemble for worship on each Lord's day. A central part of the worship is the eating of the Lord's supper (Acts 20:7). Unless providentially hindered, each member considers this weekly appointment as binding. In many instances, as in the case of illness, the Lord's supper is carried to those who are hindered from attending the worship.
What kind of music is used in the worship?
As a result of the distinctive plea of the church - a return to New Testament Faith and practice - acappella singing is the only music used in the worship. This singing, unaccompanied by mechanical instruments of music, conforms to the music used in the apostolic church and for several centuries thereafter (Ephesians 5:19). It is felt that there is no authority for engaging in acts of worship not found in the New Testament. This principle eliminates the use of instrumental music, along with the use of candles, incense, and other similar elements.
Does the church of Christ believe in heaven and hell?
Yes. The statement of Christ in Matthew 25, and elsewhere, are taken at face value. It is believed that after death each man must come before God in judgment and that he will be judged according to the deeds done while he lived (Hebrews 9:27). After judgment is pronounced he will spend eternity either in heaven or hell.
Does the church of Christ believe in purgatory?
No. The absence of any reference in the scriptures to the temporary place of punishment from which the soul will eventually be released into heaven prevents the acceptance of the doctrine of purgatory.
By what means does the church secure financial support?
Each first day of the week the members of the church "lay by in store as they have been prospered" (1 Corinthians 16:2). The amount of any individual gift is generally known only to the one who gave it and to the Lord. This free-will offering is the only call which the church makes. NO assessments or other levies are made. No money-making activities, such as bazaars or suppers, are engaged in. A total of approximately $200,000,000 is given on this basis each year.
Does the church of Christ have a creed?
No. At least, there is no creed in the usual sense of the word. The belief of the church is stated fully and completely in the Bible. There is no other manual or discipline to which the members of the church of Christ give their allegiance. The Bible is considered as the only infallible guide to heaven.
How does one become part of the family of God?
In the salvation of man's soul there are 2 necessary parts: God's part and man's part. God's part is the big part, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift if God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Ephesians 2:8-9). The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, the sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to men constitute God's part in salvation.
Though God's part is the big part, man's part is also necessary if man is to reach heaven. Man must comply with the conditions of pardon which the Lord has announced. Man's part can clearly set forth in the following steps:
Hear the Gospel. "How shall they call on him whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).
Believe. "And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him" (Hebrews 11:6).
Repent of past sins. "The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent." (Acts 17:30).
Confess Jesus as Lord. "Behold here is water; What doth hinder me to be baptized ? And Philip said, if thou believeth with all thy heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:36-37).
Be baptized for the remission of sins. "And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38).
Live a Christian life. "Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
AN OPEN INVITATION
Now that you are aware of a church in the 21th century which is built according to the blue prints of Christ's original church, why not become a member of it? In becoming a member of it, you will be called upon to do nothing which you cannot read in the New Testament. You will then live and worship just as the apostle-guided Christians of the first century did.
Not only is this return to New Testament Christianity a wonderful basis upon which all believers in Christ can unite, it is absolutely solid ground. If we do just what our Lord commanded we know that our salvation is certain. Come with us as we go back to the Bible, back to Christ and his church! - borrowed from the Church of Christ at Jackson Street
We truly and openly invite any questions that you may have about the churches of Christ and specifically the "Bethel congregation".
We often think of young children as being the source of the long chain of “why questions.” Yet, there are times in our lives as adults when we may be as consumed with why questions as are some young children. Such occasions are usually surrounding events such as a catastrophe in our own lives or the lives of those we know or hear about in some form of media news. It is no secret that the why questions consume news reporters, police investigators, and even contractors repairing home damage. In many cases, it is critical to answer the why questions in order to take the next appropriate step in accomplishing some remedy to a problem. For example, a carpenter would be very frivolous in his efforts to replace a floor without first determining why it rotted out. He must first determine if there was a water heater leak or some other plumbing issue, or termites eating the wood, or a roof leak, etc.
We thus often regard determining the answer to the why questions as our foremost priority in our response to a problem. You can probably even recall various Bible examples of circumstances where the why questions were posed in response to a problem. Jesus was asked by His apostles why the blind man begging in front of the temple was blind (John 9:2). Quite likely Paul asked God why he had to suffer with a “thorn in the flesh.” Paul cites God’s answer as being, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9) And perhaps Paul asked God why his dear friend and diligent helper, Epaphroditus, was allowed to nearly die. (Philippians 2:25-30)
In reading II Corinthians 12:6-10, you find that Paul concluded that he must accept his circumstance and live in such a way as to be stronger because of the infirmity. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (Verse 10) I believe Paul’s example and the preservation of this aspect of his life are providentially intended for us as the crucial means to answer many of our own why questions. I also believe that we may often find no other answers this side of eternity to some of the why questions. I believe it critical that we demonstrate our trust in the Lord and grow in our faith to accept His will and providential guidance to work things out for the good – no matter how hard it might be for us to now understand. What is our level of faith and leaning upon God when everything seems to be going perfectly well? We then tend to see no need for dependency upon God. Let us use our hardships and struggles as did Paul as the prompt to lean upon God and have greater strength than we would have had without that prompt.
As you know, Paul wrote of his having finished the race as he anticipated the end of his life. None of us really ever knows when the end will come for us in the race of life. What we must be certain of is that we are on the right course and moving in the right direction. This implies the necessity of living in accordance with God’s Word and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
The race begins as we become God’s children in obeying the Gospel. It ends with our death or the return of the Lord. To be certain that we remain on the right course, we must be vigilant in our study of God’s Word individually at home -- and collectively when we meet with the saints. We must make adjustments as the Lord helps us discern in study that we have deficits. And let us not forget that the Lord provided us with the great blessing of a spiritual family to help us in this race. Those who appreciate this blessing for what it is never fail to meet up with this spiritual family when it is assembled. And they even manage to often find the time to make contact with that family between assemblies. Those who appreciate the blessing of having the written Word of God, feed regularly thereupon. Those who appreciate what our Father and Savior have done for us are eager to render worship and to commune with the Father in prayer.
In these times, perhaps little is accomplished in saying that one ought to be at the assembly of the saints, that one ought to read the Bible, that one ought to reverently offer worship, or that oneought to give in accordance with how one is blessed of God. On the other hand, if you love God, love Christ Jesus, love God’s Word, and love His family, you will not fail to do these things. Doing these things is a natural outpouring of one’s love and appreciation. May we have the confidence of Paul that we are on the right course and going in the right direction. Don’t forget that John wrote of his desire for his readers to know that they have eternal life.
2Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
1John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.