Moses recorded, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1.26-27).
When God said we are made in His image, He means, that He is the giver of each individual’s spirit (Zechariah 12.1; Ecclesiastes 12.7). Therefore, it cannot be true that we inherit the sins of one man or a sinful nature; else God gives each person a debauched spirit! This demolishes the claim that man is wholly depraved, having contracted a sinful nature from the sins of Adam!
Solomon said, “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl. 7.29). This is consistent with God’s plan to create each individual holy, righteous and in His image.
When Solomon said, “…but they have sought out many schemes,” is consistent with James who taught, “…each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (1.14-15). Therefore, Adam and Eve tarnished the image of God when they sinned and we tarnish the image when we sin. Thus, we aren’t created sinners, we become sinners.
Paul said, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8.29). Desiring all those who have tarnished the image to be conformed back to the original image, that is, to the image of His Son, God has made salvation available to all men.
Have you been baptized in His name for the remission of your sins? It’s the only way to be conformed to the image you and I have tarnished. – Bryan Garlock
The Scriptures warn us of false teachers. Jesus taught, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7.15). Paul wrote, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4.3-4).
I know of no one personally who believes himself to be a false teacher; let alone acknowledge being one. Thus, it is necessary to test all teachers. John taught, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4.1). Paul said, “…test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5.21). How can we test all things from a teacher claiming to speak to us God’s word? The same way we would test anything else in life.
For instance, if a school board agrees upon a particular math textbook to be the standard in all their schools, then all math teachers are bound to teach only that which is found within the pages of said textbook. Likewise, all students will be graded in accordance to what they learned from the textbook. Now, let’s say the teacher believes 2 + 2 = 5, which is wrong according to the math book. She then proceeds to teach what she believes to be true and many of the students accept her answer and believe it to be true without even questioning her. Yet, while one student searches through the math book he stumbles upon a page that teaches 2 + 2 = 4. Knowing this to be in direct opposition to what his teacher is teaching, he begins to question her concerning her original statement. This student is testing his teacher by the book.
Since he will be graded by what is taught in the math book and not by the teacher, it is necessary to his final grade that he heed the words of the math book instead of the words of his teacher. Similarly, we will be judged by the word of God (John 12.48; Rom. 2.16). Therefore, it is vital to our salvation that we test all preachers, pastors and teachers (Acts 17.11) with the only source and standard for truth, namely, the Scriptures (John 17.17).
Many teach that baptism is not essential to salvation. They say, “baptism does not save.” However, notice that the apostle Peter taught, “…Baptism…now saves you” (1 Peter 3.21). Who is the false teacher? Peter? Elsewhere, Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.16). Notice please that Jesus says belief + baptism = salvation. Unfortunately, many preachers teach, “whoever believes and is not baptized will be saved…” Those who espouse this teaching place baptism after salvation because they believe baptism does not save, whereas Jesus places baptism before salvation. Like the teacher above, one may whole heartily believe something, but just believing doesn’t make it true. It must be backed by facts or in this case, Scripture. Thus, we’ve shown twice that baptism does save. What are we doing? We are testing teachers by the Scriptures to see if whether or not they are false. – Bryan Garlock
Many churches schedule special services where one must wait one to two weeks, if not longer, after making it known his or her decision to be baptized. Ultimately this is because many do not understand the importance of baptism. Furthermore, those ready to be baptized believe whole heartily that they have already been saved; hence, the postponement of baptism.
It should be admitted that the Scriptures teach that baptism was done immediately after the preaching of the gospel. Luke recorded, “That same day” (Acts 2.36-41), “What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8.35-38), “Can any man forbid water?” (Acts 10.44-48), “In the same hour of the night” (Acts 16.30-33), “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19.5) and “Why are you waiting?” (Acts 22.16). Every example found within the pages of Acts tells and shows us that baptism was not delayed.
Those who heard (Rom. 10.17; Acts 2.37), believed (Acts 16.31), repented of their sins (Acts 2.38) and confessed their faith in Christ (Rom. 10.9-10) were immediately baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2.38).
Why the rush to be baptized? Baptism stood between them and being saved (1 Peter 3.21), forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2.38; Acts 22.16), having a new life (Rom. 6.4), being in Christ (Gal. 3.27), becoming a child of God (Gal. 3.26-27) and being in the kingdom (John 3.5).
Those who teach that baptism does not save see no reason why to be immediately baptized. However, Jesus commanded it and we must obey Him to be saved (Matt. 7.21; Heb. 5.8-9). He said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.16). Since Jesus taught that belief plus baptism equals salvation, we should not postpone baptism for some special service as if it is unimportant thereby risking our opportunity for salvation. – Bryan Garlock
Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5.8).
Since the gospel of Jesus Christ creates peace in a world where there is none (Col. 1.13-23; Rom. 5.1; James 4.4), Christians are called to be peacemakers (Matt. 28.18-20; 2 Tim. 2.2; Acts 8.4).
Sharing the peace Christ offers with others is exclusively accomplished through the spreading of the gospel. Therefore, we must not hinder the gospel by our lack of love or peace God has called us to exemplify (Rom. 12.18; Phil. 4.7-9; Heb. 12.14). If we do not love peace, how can we expect others to obtain such? – Bryan Garlock
God has always expected His people to follow the pattern of His word in their worship and service to Him. For example, He told Moses, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you” (Deut. 4.2). This is accomplished by following the pattern of God’s word. God told Moses, “…See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain” (see Heb. 8.1-5). Further, Paul penned, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1.13).
If a dressmaker fails to follow the pattern, he or she will make a different dress than was intended by the patternmaker! Likewise, if we fail to follow the pattern of worship and service to God, we will not provide the worship and service that He purposed and planned.
Therefore, when it comes to worshiping God, nothing short of true worship is acceptable to Him (John 4.19-24). Jesus tells us that true worship consists of two aspects – spirit and truth. “Spirit” here means the same as “sincerity” in Josh. 24.14. “Truth” is God’s word (John 17.17).
Thus, we must follow the pattern of worship and service that has been provided us by God Himself, for He has every right to determine how we should worship Him. We are like dressmakers, but He is the patternmaker. - Bryan Garlock
John penned, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4.9-10).
God gave us the Bible through inspired men to reveal the love He has for all mankind. Within its pages, the apostles show the cross of Christ as our focal point of faith. Therefore, the love God made known is the love we must reciprocate in order to be His children. We accomplish this through obedience and faithfulness to Him (John 14.15).
John continued, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (4.11-12). The reason we are to love one another is because God loved us. Further, we are to love the Father because, “…he first loved us” (19).
The Father’s love was sacrificial. He sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins (John 3.16). Thus, if His love for us cost Him something, our love for Him ought to cost us something. His sacrifice teaches us that love is not selfish, but looks out for the interest of others (1 Cor. 13.5; Phil. 2.4). Are we willing to count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ? We must forsake the world and forsake sin. We must love the Father and love one another. This will take sacrifice on our part! – Bryan Garlock
God told Moses, “…Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today” (Deut. 5.1-3).
The Law of Moses, also known as the Law of God (Ezra 7.6; 2 Chronicles 34.14), was given to the nation of Israel. This was part of God’s eternal plan to bring us to Christ and the cross (Gal. 3.16, Gal. 3.19, Gal.23-25). Once Christ came and died for our sins, He nailed the Law of Moses to the cross (Col. 2.13-14; Eph. 2.13-16). Shortly thereafter His will and testament came into practice (see Heb. 8.6; 9.15-17).
The New Testament was in accordance to the prophecy found within the pages of the Old Covenant (Jer. 31.31-34; Heb. 8.6-9, 13). Therefore, since Christ has come and died, we are no longer under the Law of Moses, but under the Law of Christ (Gal. 6.2). Since we will be judged by His gospel (Rom. 2.16), we must not appeal to Moses for salvation, justification or authority for what we practice religiously (Matt. 17.1-5; Col. 3.17; Heb. 1.1-2).
The question might arise, “if we are under the Law of Christ, why the need for the Old Testament?” First, among many things, the Law taught us about sin and about obedience to God (Rom 3.20; 7.7-11; Deut. 10.12-13). Next, the Old Covenant was written for our learning (Rom. 15.4) and examples were given that we might not sin against God as those of the past did (1 Cor. 10.6). Finally, we need Christ, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10.4). The blood of Christ was and is sufficient to wash away our sins (Heb. 9.11-14). Yet, it is only when we comply with the conditions found within the New Testament that we can have our sins forgiven. In His New Covenant, Jesus taught, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.16). – Bryan Garlock
Many today have the mindset that God is pleased with multiple interpretations of the Scriptures. They believe wholeheartedly that God gave us His word, apparently not to be understood alike, but differently! Interestingly, if any interpretations contradict, it does not matter for, “We are all going to heaven, just taking different roads,” or so they say. Further, one only has to travel a few blocks to note the different denominations and religious groups; each with their own name, doctrines, beliefs, etc. One can only imagine the chaos this would cause if each group were to worship together under the same roof!
The above truth is the result of false teachers and their deceived followers. It is also a misconception that there may be at least two interpretations on any given topic. Either it is the case one is right and the other wrong or both are wrong! Therefore, as we approach a topic of this nature, it would do us good to agree on the following: First, the Scriptures are truth (John 17.17). This does not mean that there are several truths (interpretations); this means there is only one truth. Consequently, all other sources are false. Second, they are inspired (2 Tim. 3.16-17) and within them contain no contradictions. It is also important to note that since the Scriptures come from God, multiple interpretations cannot exist or else God would be the author of confusion and chaos. Finally, since the word of God will judge us (John 12.48), this raises the question, “If multiple interpretations suffice, which interpretation will God judge us by?”
Next, since the facts above are obviously true, it is vital to our salvation to accept the following: God commands us to understand His will for us (Eph. 5.17). To understand, we must first obey the command to study His word (2 Tim. 2.15) and to grow in the knowledge of the Scriptures (1 Peter 3.15, 2 Peter 3.18; Heb. 5.11-6.2). His will can only be made known when we read (Eph. 3.3-4). Thus, all can equally share in the blessings of God through His word when we read, study and learn His will (John 6.44-45). Finally, if we are searching the Scriptures daily (Acts 17.11) and testing Bible teachers’ words against God’s word (1 John 4.1), we can come to understand the Bible alike. Paul commanded, “…all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1.10). God’s desire for us is to “…maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all…” (Eph. 4.1-6). These truths prove, therefore, that we can understand the Bible alike! -Bryan Garlock
I once heard a preacher ask, “If you had to write a ten page paper about the church you are a member of, could you use only the Bible or would you have to use outside sources?”
The truth is many churches would have to use outside sources because many of their doctrines, beliefs, practices and even their names cannot be found within the pages of the Bible.
Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build My church…" (Matthew 16.18). This is the church that began in Acts chapter two in Jerusalem. Following the baptism of the first converts to Christ, Luke records, "the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2.41-47). Thus, all whom the Lord saves are added to His church. Further, scripture refers to the church, the saved, as His body (Colossians 1.18). Since there is only one body (Eph. 4.4), there is only one church. Scripture mentions no other.
In the New Testament, groups of believers who lived in the same area joined their efforts and resources to form local congregations, also called "churches" (Galatians 1.2). The apostle Paul called these groups "churches of Christ" in Romans 16.16.
Jesus established the church, not men. It is His. Thus, it wears His name. He is the purchaser (Acts 20.28), founder (Matthew 16.18), head (Eph. 1.22-23; Eph. 5.23) and Savior of His body (Ephesians 5.23). Since churches in the New Testament are called churches of Christ, and since we strive to be nothing more or less than a New Testament church, at Northside we call ourselves after the pattern of the scriptures (2 Tim. 1.13), the church of Christ.
We are confident that we can be a church that you can read about in the Bible. We are simply a local group of Christians (Acts 11.26), seeking to serve God based on the teachings revealed in His word. We are not affiliated with any denomination or cult, but are an independent body of Christians acknowledging Christ as the only head of the church (Eph. 1.22-23; Eph. 5.23). - Bryan Garlock
Many do not understand Biblical faith. This is directly attributed to man’s distortion of the original concept and definition as revealed by God. Interestingly, God has revealed a massive amount of information concerning faith. With so much of the concept rooted in Scripture it is a wonder why so many today do not understand this simple truth. To understand Biblical faith one is encouraged to study the totality of the Scriptures (Psalm 119.160).
Notice a few things the Scriptures teach about faith: First, “…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11.1). Second, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10.17). Third, faith is essential to our salvation (John 3.16; 8.24; Acts 16.31; Rom. 5.1; Eph. 2.8-9). Finally, faith is active and obedient (Heb. 11.8; Rom. 1.5; 16.26).
Furthermore, the Scriptures teach that faith alone does not save. John penned, “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it…” (John 12.42). Thus, faith without confession will cause one to be lost eternally. Additionally, James spoke of those who had faith but not works. He wrote, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2.17). He went on to say, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” When complimenting Abraham’s faith, James said, “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works…” (2.22) and finally, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (2.26). Therefore, while faith is essential, faith alone is essentially dead. If you believe in Jesus won’t you obey Him today (John 14.15; Mark 16.16)? -Bryan Garlock
We must have standards for all we do in life. Standard is defined: “as a level of quality, achievement, etc., that is considered acceptable or desirable; ideas about morally correct and acceptable behavior; something that is very good and that is used to make judgments about the quality of other things" (Merriam-Webster). Thus, without standards we would and could not agree on anything and disunity and chaos would follow. For instance, the employee policy hanging on the wall at work is the standard by which all employees must measure themselves. If an employee is found lacking in a particular area, his or her employer has the necessary tools to either help the employee improve or, if the employee continues to spiral down, terminate them. Therefore, we understand the policy to keep the employee working effectively and efficiently.
Another standard worth mentioning is the handy dandy tape measure. Without it our buildings would be crooked and unstable and our furniture would be uncomfortable to look at and sit on! This is because we would never agree to the length of a piece of wood. One builder might say the length is 10 inches, while another argues the length is 14 inches. Thus, to eliminate disunity and chaos, these builders would have to adopt a standard by which they measure each piece of wood.
In the religious world, the Bible is our standard. With it we measure our faith (2 Cor. 13.5; James 1.25), our maturity in Christ (2 Tim. 3.16-17; 2 Peter 1.3) and our eternal outcome will be measured by our faithfulness (Rev. 2.10). Since God’s word will be the judge, that is, our standard, it would do us well to heed and obey the words of Christ in all things (John 12.48; Col. 3.17). BG
"Standard." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/standard>.