Who Is My Brother?

Who is My Brother?

Hebrews 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,

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BeFollowers of Christ are the ones who are sanctified by the Lord Jesus. Without Him, we are nothing. But what an honor it is that Christ calls us brothers! And that's who we are!

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

When God describes the church (those who know Him) on earth, He uses the image of a family. God is a “Heavenly Father” who provides for the needs of His children. We often refer to the people of His church as “brothers and sisters in Christ”. These people are not related by genetics, but by the Blood of Jesus Christ that has covered their sin. They have been born again of the Spirit of God and walk by the Spirit instead of their flesh.

Matthew 12:46-50 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."

From this, we learn that not every person is a part of God’s family, only those who believe in Jesus, are born again of God’s Spirit, and do the will of the Father! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God.

John 1:10-13 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Jesus died on a cross so that we could relate to God as a Father instead of being an object of wrath. When we believe that and acknowledge that Jesus is God’s Son, we act on that belief by repenting of our sin, dying to our old life in baptism, and are reborn of God, the Holy Spirit. Then our position with the Father changes. Instead of having to live in fear of His wrath, we can live in confidence of His love as His child. We share our lives with Him, and He shares His Life with us. He is not just our Creator, He becomes our Father in Heaven who provides for our needs and disciplines us when we need to be corrected. We talk to Him continuously and we thank Him for the things He does for us.

Knowing that, and knowing how much God loves me, I live to please Him. If He tells me to live a certain way, I know He will bless me if I do it. When He tells me I should stay away from something, I stay away because I love Him and I know He has my best interest in mind.

But even when I don’t, He doesn’t disown me. He will discipline me. He is always there to hear my confession, and He always forgives. If I feel distant from God, it wasn’t God who moved. I moved away from Him and I must repent to get close again. As soon as I turn away from my sin, I find the Father is there with me.

The second part of our Christian family relationship is the one we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The early church was so captivated by God’s love that it literally overflowed into each other’s lives. That’s the way it is when we have a close relationship with our heavenly Father. His love in us makes us closer to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sometimes when we share praise reports, someone just wants to thank God for this loving church. What a great blessing it is to hear people who are excited about the love in their church, for God is love and it is an indication of His presence. I agree with them. I see a lot of genuine fellowship going on as people laugh, love, and share together. Many of you are involved in one another’s lives throughout the week. We get together and pray with one another. When we have a family member who is in difficulty, there are those who surround them and help out. Sometimes it means bringing in meals, or watching kids, or even helping out financially. That is brotherhood.

So, why do I ask, “Who is my brother?”

As we have seen, a Christian is one who has been born of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, he is a child of God and he acts like the Son, Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, people use the term Christian as if it were a title anyone can wear, simply by choosing to call themselves a Christian. Many have no real idea what it means to be a Christian. They have no idea what it really means to believe in Jesus. Few, who claim to be a Christian, understand that even the demons believe in God; but their belief does not save them.

James 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

I wish that everyone who wears the name Christian was a Christian, but the only way a person can be a Christian is to truly believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. Furthermore, it is only through submitting our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, that we can come to God; for there is no other way for us to come to the Father but through His Son Jesus. To say that we know God apart from obeying Jesus is a lie and the truth is not in us.

John 8:54-55 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.

Therefore, those who deny the deity of Christ and the authority of the Word of God, may claim to be Christians but they have no foundation for making that claim. It does not matter that they are spiritual and religious and socially minded; they worship the doctrines and traditions of man instead of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords: Jesus Christ. Thus, they are not Christians.

When the Bible talks about believing in Jesus, it is talking about having faith in Jesus and His Word. If you believe in Him, you will do what He says. You cannot reach this point of believing just because someone led you through some salvation ritual: like saying the “sinner’s prayer”. People must hear the word of Christ if they are to be saved. Then the Holy Spirit can bring conviction to believe His word and act on it, or reject it. Therefore, only through the Word of Christ and the conviction of the Holy Spirit can one reach the point where “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16).

Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

All too often, people hear the Word of Christ as it has been corrupted by the mind and traditions of man. Men have invented numerous formulas for salvation, none of which has the power to save. They lead people through a series of rituals and then proclaim: “You are now saved, or you are now filled with the Holy Spirit.” The people know nothing but the ritual, and they believe in nothing beyond what they were told. If they attend church at all, they seek one where the messages massage their egos and, unfortunately, leads them deeper into darkness.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

The Word of Christ is essential to faith, because our sin nature resists all forms of absolute authority, including the absolute authority of Jesus Christ and His Word. That is why Christendom is riddled with subjective authority and the corruption of false doctrine of believing in many paths to Heaven, disavowing absolute truths, following feelings instead of the teachings of Jesus, and rejecting parts of the Bible as the Truth. These are factors which lead people to a false faith. Those who believe these things may call themselves a Christian but they are not. They may acknowledge Jesus as a great teacher but not as the divine Creator and God. They reject the essential New Testament teachings about who Jesus really is. It is only through scriptural essentials that people can come to know the Truth and be saved.

So what are the scriptural essentials? To a large extent, the early church adopted the following basic tenets of faith as being essential:

(1) One God in three persons (the Trinity), Creator of all things.

(2) The fallen or lost state of mankind

(3) The necessity of God’s grace,

(4) The necessity of faith,

(5) The necessity of Christ’s atoning death,

(6) The incarnation of God in Jesus,

(7) Christ’s virgin birth,

(8) Christ’s sinless life,

(9) Christ’s deity,

(10) Christ’s humanity,

(11) Christ’s bodily resurrection,

(12) Christ’s bodily ascension,

(13) Christ’s presence in believers by the Holy Spirit,

(14) Christ’s authority over the universe, and

(15) Christ’s second coming, final judgment, and reign.

As we can see, the early church put Jesus Christ at the center of their faith. Not only was Jesus the foundation and focal point of their faith, He is God: to be worshiped and obeyed.

This is exactly what many today, who call themselves a Christian, reject. They are willing to accept Jesus as a great teacher, but they refuse to bow to His deity. They do not believe the essentials. They believe what they choose to believe. They have created a god in their own image.

However, the grace to believe these essentials is rooted in our rebirth by the Holy Spirit; and our rebirth is totally dependent on God. By the Holy Spirit we understand these essentials and live by them.

This faith is not a mental exercise, nor a ritual of saying and doing certain things. This faith is a transforming belief of our soul (mind, will, and emotions) and changes every aspect of how we think and what we do.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

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With this having been said, is the brotherhood of Christ only those who belong to a Restoration church (Church of Christ or Christian Church)? Unfortunately, some believe that way, and I think it is the reason some Restoration churches are in decline. They won’t fellowship with or accept anyone who is different. They lack God’s love; therefore, they lack God.

I know from my experience outside of a Christian Church that there are true believers all over the world in many different church bodies. They believe Jesus and His Word more than they believe denominational creeds. They contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. They would love to be in a Christian church like this, but God has them as a witness where they attend. Nevertheless, they are my brothers and sisters.

It took 30 years for me to come in contact with a Christian Church. I was glad to discover a difference from the Church of Christ. I imagine not all Churches of Christ are the same, but my experiences with a few of them were a discouragement to ever attend one. I will explain.

I developed a brotherly relationship on the job with a believer who belonged to the Church of Christ. We both loved the Lord and believed so much alike. As a result, we had great fellowship on the job. One day, he brought his preacher to my home. The preacher questioned me about my faith and asked me to give a testimony of how I came to Christ. My salvation experience was different from the Church of Christ doctrine, but similar to the example found in Acts 10. Nevertheless, the preacher said to me, “You are one of the most sincere people I have ever met, but you are not my brother.” Then they left my home. I was rejected as a Christian brother, I was not invited to attend their church, and that brother never related to me again.

That unbiblical, arrogant, Pharisaical attitude is why some Reformation Churches are dying.

That attitude is also prevalent in other denominational churches. In several denominations, I have been refused the right to partake from the Lord’s Table because I was not a member of that denomination, or in some cases, that local body. They did not believe Ephesians 4:4-6 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, who is over all and through all and in all. Those denominations are in decline, too.

I am pleased to say this church body is not like that. We are gradually growing, made up of people from various church backgrounds (Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, and new believers).

We don’t agree with all the various denomination tenets, but we have unity in the essentials; liberty in the non-essentials; and love in all things. The Bible is our doctrine. Where it speaks, we speak; where it is silent, we are silent. We don’t make up doctrines nor creeds. Furthermore, Jesus Christ is our Lord and the Head of the Church. We recognize there is one Body of Christ. We respect the submersion baptism of other churches. We have open communion. We are not a denomination. We are Christians only. And, it is our faith in Jesus and the grace of the Holy Spirit that causes us to submit to His authority. As we submit our lives to the Word of God and walk by the Spirit instead of our flesh, the more like Jesus we become. And the more we become like Christ, the more we become alike.

Our church grows as we invite others to come and hear the Word of Christ, especially the lost so that they may come to know the Truth and be saved.

When a person places their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, it means they come to Him in repentance and faith, a faith that comes from God, the Holy Spirit. But, what we do with that faith is totally up to us. We can reject it, or we can ignore it; or we can embrace Jesus as our Lord and Master. God offers us the opportunity to submit to Jesus, but it is something we must honestly do; not just with our mind but with our heart and mouth. Then we must act on what we say we believe. Therefore, if you have never made a public profession of your faith, do so today.

Romans 10:9-10 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Then, after believing, repenting of sin, and confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior, take the first step of obedience to Christ by following Jesus in baptism. It will be like putting your old man to death and being raised with Jesus to a new life born of the Holy Spirit. That rebirth of God’s Spirit makes you a child of God and our brother (or sister).

   December 2018   
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