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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS (10)

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.     The search for truth often begins with a question.

1.       The wise men sought the infant who was to be the King of the Jews.

2.       When they came to Jerusalem, they presented their question (Matt. 2:1-2).

 

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from

the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

 

3.       Their question was answered by the chief priests who knew the law.  The prophets had declared that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem of Judea (Matt. 2:5-6; Micah 5:2).

 

B.     When we ask questions, we, too, are often searching for the truth.  We desire for someone to answer them in harmony with the precious Word of truth.

 

C.     Tonight is our Question & Answers Night.

1.       We will be answering two of your questions.

2.       We hope that you will continue placing your questions in the Q&A box in the foyer.  We will do our best to get to them month to month.

 

I.             QUESTION #1 – The church

 

A.     Stated:  Does the true church exist today?  If so, can we identify it?

 

B.     Answer:  Does the true church exist today?

1.       The answer to this question is:  “Yes!”  The Bible teaches that the church, the kingdom, will stand forever.

a.       Daniel 2:44

 

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

 

b.      Matthew 16:18

 

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 

2.       A second argument:

1.       The Bible teaches that the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23).

2.       We also know that the Jesus is the head of the church (Col. 1:18).

3.       As long as the head exists, the body will exist (See I Tim. 1:17).

 

C.     Answer:  Can we identify the true church today?

1.       Again, the answer to the question is:  “Yes.” 

2.       The church came into existence in the first century (Acts 2:47).

3.       As we read through the book of Acts and the epistles, we learn many things about the church, especially the things that characterized her.

a.       When she was founded:  A.D.  33

b.      Where she was founded:  the city of Jerusalem

c.       Who was her founder:  Jesus Christ

d.      Her name

e.       Her organizational structure

f.        Her worship

g.       Her law/doctrine

h.      Her plan of salvation

4.       To find the true church today, all of these elements must be in place within any church that we are investigating.  NOTE:  If a church does not meet ALL of the marks, it is NOT the true church).

5.       One of the easiest ways of eliminating most religious groups is by looking at their name.

a.       Most groups (churches) wear man-made names.

1)       Lutherans and Mennonites are named after men.

2)       Pentecostals are named after a Jewish holiday.

3)       The Roman Catholic Church is named and formatted after the Roman government of days gone by.

4)       Baptists are either named after John the Baptist or for the practice of baptism.

b.      The true church could be called by several designations.

1)       The church of Christ (Rom. 16:16; Matt. 16:18)

2)       The church of God (Acts 20:28)

3)       The body of Christ (I Cor. 12:27)

4)       The church of the living God (I Tim. 3:15)

5)       The church of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23)

c.       We should do this same comparison with each identification mark.  Any church that does not match the identification marks is NOT the true church.

d.      I am a member of the church of Christ.  I sincerely believe that it matches all of the identi-fication marks revealed in the New Testament.  If it did not, I would keep searching for the true church.

 

II.           QUESTION #2 – New Concepts in the New Testament

 

A.     Stated:  There are some things in the New Testament that are not found in the Old Testament (the sects of the Jews, the synagogue, the Samaritans, etc.).  Where did they come from?

 

B.     Answer:

1.       There appears to be a quick transition from the Old Testament into the New Testament.

a.       The OT ends with Malachi 4:6.  Then, we turn the page and begin to read Matthew 1:1.

b.      The OT end with a prophecy about John the Baptist (Mal. 4:5-6).  Very quickly in the book of Matthew, we read of John’s coming (Matt. 3:1-2).

2.       Between the testaments, however, there is a 400 year period of time.

a.       Most refer to this as the Inter-testament Period.  Others call it “The Period of Silence,” or “Between the Testaments.

b.      It was in this period of time that many things developed that are found in the NT, but are not found in the OT.

 

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3.       Some of the differences explained.

a.       In the Old Testament, the Jews spoke the Hebrew language.  In the New Testament, the Jews spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

1)       The Babylonians and Persians spoke the Aramaic language. 

a)       The Jews acquired this language while they were in exile.

b)      Example:  “Abba” is used for the word “father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).

2)       During the 400 year period, the Persians ruled, the Greeks ruled, and the Romans ruled.  During the rule of the Greeks, koine Greek became the common language of the people throughout the world.

b.      In the OT, the term Israelites was applied to the Jews.  In the NT, the word “Jew” is used to refer to the same people. 

1)       When taken into Babylonian captivity, the Jews were called Judahites.

2)       This was difficult for the Babylonians to say so they shortened the word to “Jews.”

c.       In the OT, we read the word “synagogues: one time (Ps. 74:78).  In the NT, the synagogue is a very common element of Jewish worship.

1)       In the Old Testament, the word simply means “congregation.”  It does not refer to the synagogue like those found in the New Testament. 

2)       Matthew 12:9

 

And when he departed thence, he went into their synagogue.

 

3)       While in Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel the prophet called the elders to his home for a period of study.  These regular meetings developed into the synagogues of the Jews.  Eventually rules were drawn up to control these small congregations.

d.      In the OT, the Samaritans are mentioned only one time (II Kings 17:29).  In the New Testament they are mentioned many times and are despised by the Jews (John 4:9).

 

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?  For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

 

1)       In the OT, the Jews lived in the region of Samaria.  This accounts for the one mention in the OT.

2)       In the NT, however, the Samaritans are a different type of people.  They are a mixed breed, partly Jewish and partly another nationality.

a)       In 722 B.C., the Jews of the Northern Tribes were carried away into captivity.

b)      Some of the poor Jews were left behind.

c)       The Assyrians shipped in the poor and discontent of other nations and the Jews intermarried with them over time.  Their being a mixed race is what caused the Jews to reject them.  (NOTE:  They also developed a different set of religious beliefs and practices).

d)      When the NT opens, they are a nation of people with their own land in Palestine.

e.       In the OT, we do not read of any sects of the Jews.  In the NT, we read of many sects, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 3:7).

 

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

 

1)       The specific details of the formation of these sects are not provided in history.

2)       The Hasmonean Period began in Israel about 142 B.C.

a.       This was a priestly family that was very powerful in Judea.

b.      The most capable ruler of the Hasmoneans was John Hyrcanus (135-104 B.C.).

c.       During his reign the Pharisees are mentioned for the first time.

1)       The Pharisees rejected the Greek (Hellenistic) culture.  They were favored by the common man.

2)       The Sadducees developed in opposition to the Pharisees.  They accepted the Greek culture and were prominent among the wealthy and powerful.  (NOTE:  They became the high priests during the Roman empire).

CONCLUSION

 

A.     There are some questions that can be answered by turning to the Word of God?

 

B.     There are other questions that involve some research outside the Bible because they deal with such things as history, customs, and traditions of the day.

1.       At times, this information is shallow.

2.       Studies in these areas can enhance our understanding of the Bible.

3.       If any of these outside sources contradict the Word of God, we accepted the Bible because it is the inspired Word of God.