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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



Two thousand years ago Christ said, "I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Not that hell hasn't tried. Immediately following the birth of the church of Christ in Acts 2, the devil got very busy trying to destroy her. Read ACTS and you see two things. First, you see a church determined to carry out Jesus' command to take the gospel to every creature on earth. In every chapter of ACTS there is either preparation for preaching the gospel, preaching the gospel, or results from having preached the gospel. Thus we read that in short order the church "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6) as they swept across the first century world with the gospel! But the second thing you see in ACTS is a devil who is also determined — determined to destroy the church Jesus said He would build. In Acts 4 and 5, religious authorities punished the apostles at first verbally and then physically with arrest and beatings, but they kept on preaching, saying, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (4:20). In Acts 8:3-4 we read that "Saul made havoc of the church" even as those who were scattered (due to persecution) "went everywhere preaching the word.' Acts 12:1-2 we read that King Herod "stretched out his hand to harass some from the church" and that `he killed James the brother of John with the sword." But Herod learned the hard way that the church Jesus built, like Jesus Himself, is not that easy to get rid of. By the end of Acts 12 "an angel of the Lord struck Herod and he was eaten with worms and died. But the word of the Lord grew and multiplied" (12:23-24).

All these scriptures remind us the church of Christ is tougher than nails! She has proven to be indestructible. In every generation enemies from inside and outside work to destroy her and seek her demise. Yet here she is, twenty centuries after her birth, still doing business for the Lord! Her continued existence in the face of endless opponents and critics brings to mind the comment of Theodore Beza, friend of John Calvin , to the king of France — "May it please you, Sire, to remember: the church is an anvil which has worn our many hammers." A stern warning from the apostle Paul reminds us those who seek to ruin the church will in the end be ruined by God — "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). To be a part of God's temple, the church, is to be a part of something that can't be destroyed. You have God's word for it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ