Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 11 November 2018
Page 8

Be Involved

Derek Broome

There was great excitement in the air in Acts 2 when the church began. Those who were being saved were added to the Lord’s church just as we are today. As the church in the first century, it began to work for the Lord. Its members met with each other house to house. They continued in the apostle’s doctrine. They worshipped. They worked. They took care of one another. As the church began to grow, more and more congregations of the Lord’s church were being established from city to city. Elders were put into place in each congregation to shepherd the flock, and the Word of the Lord continued to spread.

As Christians living today, we are a part of that same church that began in Acts 2. When we are baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38), Christ adds us to His church (Acts 2:47). As part of the body, we serve God. We worship Him in spirit and in truth. We are obedient to His Word. We follow His Will. We come together on each Sunday to worship Him and to remember Christ and His sacrifice. We come together to lift each other up, encouraging and supporting one another, praying for one another. We come together to give unto the Lord from the depths of our hearts, to praise and honor God. We come together.

The Lord has set many commandments before us as His church, the things that we must do. While, yes, we should do those things because God has commanded us, we should also do them out of love (John 14:15). We should love to worship God. We should love to come together. Lifting up other people should bring joy to our hearts. The work of the Lord and spreading of the Gospel should not be something that we just feel obligated to do, but such ought to be something that we love and desire to do.

We should also know that as a child of God we are needed in the body. Our individual talents make us who we are; they make us special. Those things that set us apart as individuals make us unique and very much needed for the work of the Lord. When we do not come together, we are not only breaking God’s commands (Hebrews 10:24-25), but we are also not supporting our fellow brethren. We need to love God and each other so much that we want to be a part of His spiritual body.

As a church, we come together. We come together on Sundays to worship God and to lift each other up. We come together outside of worship to continue the work of the Lord. My hope is that we will all come together to do God’s will.

Solomon’s View of Death

Denny Petrillo

Denny PetrilloIn Ecclesiastes 9, Solomon made a powerful and humbling observation. All are going to die. It does not matter if the person was righteous or wicked. Such will not change the course set up by God. It is His plan that all will die (Hebrews 9:27), except for those who are alive when Christ comes again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

In Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Solomon made a number of observations about death, which also need to be considered in light of a number of erroneous doctrines being taught by the religious world today. First, Solomon stated that “the dead do not know anything.” This statement has led some to argue for an unconscious state for the dead and for others to conclude that the wicked dead are annihilated. Such doctrines clearly contradict plain biblical teaching, which demonstrate continued existence and awareness for the dead (Isaiah 14:9; Luke 16:19-31). Instead, Solomon was noting that the dead are ignorant of what is taking place on the earth (“under the sun,” v. 6). Whatever activities transpire after they died are beyond their knowledge. This truth should defeat a number of erroneous practices today.

(1) There is no biblical support to pray to the dead. The dead (even those declared as “saints”) are unable to hear, let alone answer, one’s prayers. Our access to God is found only through Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

(2) There is no biblical support to attempt to contact the dead. There are those who claim to have powers to bring up the dead for conversation, help or advice. Such séances are worthless because the dead have no knowledge of or contact with the living.

(3) There is no biblical support to worship the dead. Archeology has discovered countless cultures that offered sacrifices, libations, food, tools and money to their dead. There is abundant evidence of shrines and other places of worship built to worship the dead.

(4) There is no biblical support for the notion that our dead loved ones are aware of events that occur in our lives. While some may sing about “holes in the floor of heaven,” through which our loved ones observe our lives, the fact is the dead are not privy to earthly events, conversations and deeds.

Second, Solomon stated that the dead have no “reward” or “share in all that is done under the earth.” Time is opportunity. Once death occurs, there remains no longer opportunity to change anything. One can neither change what was done on the earth nor can he change his judgment after death. This truth also defeats a number of erroneous beliefs today.

(1) Some religious groups (e.g., Mormons) teach that religious acts (such as baptism) can be done on behalf of those who are dead. This practice supposes one who foolishly rejected God’s will during his lifetime can seize the benefits of baptism while he is suffering the punishment of God in Hell. However, the Scriptures plainly teach that each one is accountable only for his own deeds and that righteousness (or wickedness) is not transferable (Exodus 32:33; Ezekiel 18:1-20; John 5:28-29; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-14).

(2) Some religious groups (e.g., Catholics) teach that one can, through prayers and contributions, change the condition of their loved ones. This teaching says that one who has ended up in so-called purgatory can be freed from this place through the offerings of the living. However, Solomon made it clear that death ends all opportunities to change one’s fate. A person will be judged solely upon what he has done while alive—be it good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Romans 2:6).

(3) Some religious groups teach that all will be reincarnated (e.g., Hinduism). However, Solomon made it clear that there will be no future opportunities. Each person has only one occasion to make something of his or her life. There will be no second opportunities as one supposedly comes back reincarnated. After one dies, the next event will be Judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

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