Know Your Bible
January 2001

Not The Mission Of The Church

It is not the mission of the church to furnish amusement for the world or even for its own members. Innocent amusement in proper proportion has its place in the lives of normal people, but it is not the business of the church to furnish it. The church would come off a poor second if it undertook to compete with institutions established for the express purpose of entertaining people. It would make itself ridiculous if it entered into such competition. Again, it is not the responsibility of the church as such to furnish recreation for its members. A certain amount of recreation is necessary to the health and happiness of the individual. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", it is said, and rightly said; but it is not the function of the church to furnish the play. The church was not established to feature athletics. Rather it emphasizes the principle that "bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things; having promise of the life which now is and of that which is to come." (1 Tim. 4:8). Sometimes one would conclude, from the emphasis given to recreation, that godliness is profitable for a little, and that bodily exercise is profitable for all things.

For the church to turn aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its mission. It is to degrade its mission. Amusement and recreation should stem from the home rather than the church. The church, like Nehemiah, has a great work to do; and it should not come down on the plains of Ono to amuse and entertain. As the church turns its attention to amusement and recreation, it will be shorn of its power as Samson was when his hair was cut. Only as the church becomes worldly, as it pillows its head on the lap of Delilah, will it want to turn from its wonted course to relatively unimportant matters.

---B.C. Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate, 1948

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We Are Simply Christians...


We read with interest the reports on every hand of the growing disenchantment with present religious forms which originated in the middle ages and have become meaningless. We hear of displeasure with denominational structures and their pronouncements which reflect only the preferences of an influential elite, ignoring the convictions of the rank and file. Because of these aspects of modern religion some have decided that Christianity is not relevant to this day and age. We believe they have so decided because they are not sufficiently acquainted with the scriptures to be able to distinguish between the relevant gospel of Christ, and what men have added to religion since, and which truly are not relevant to serving God.

If some of these things have troubled you and you have felt an urge, or even a yearning, to return to the simple uncomplicated religion of Christ, and if you have felt the desire to strip away all non-essential elements of religion and simply abide by the truths of Christ, truths which alone can transform the soul and bind it to God, let us suggest that such a possibility actually exists.

Let us begin with one essential fact. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. His coming, his mission, and his new message were all foretold in the Old Testament (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 53; Zechariah 6:13; Jeremiah 31:31-33) which Jehovah used to govern Israel until the Christ should come and establish the New for all mankind (Galatians 3:19,23,24).

The New Testament is the word of Christ. It reveals the religion of Christ (Hebrews 9:15-17). By studying it we become aware that among the followers of Christ, no denominational organizations existed whatever. All such began at a later time. We see people hearing the gospel and in faith obeying the conditions of God's grace. That is, they turned to God and were baptized in order to be forgiven of their sins. Being thus saved, they were added to the Lord's people, or church (Acts 2:36-47). As the gospel spread, we find them assembling together in congregations in various localities. Each congregation was under its own elders (Acts 14:23) and no one else on earth. These elders could not make laws or be masters. They were given the responsibility of tending and caring for the congregation as shepherds would a flock (Acts 20:17,28; 1 Peter 5:1-3). The only headquarters those disciples knew was heaven, where their head, Jesus Christ, was and is (Ephesians 1:22,23).

Their worship was something to participate in, not something to watch. On the first day of the week, for instance, they would eat the Lord's supper and hear preaching (Acts 20:7;1 Corinthians 11:23-29).They would share their prosperity, and we find contributions being collected on no other day than that (1 Corinthians 16:1,2).Incidentally, no hierarchy could tax them or tell them how much to give. They had no organizations clamoring for their support. They gave as they individually purposed in their own hearts (2 Corinthians 9:6,7). In their assemblies they all would sing (Ephesians 5:19) and all pray with various ones leading (1 Corinthians 14:15,16). In all this they were all necessarily involved, for each person was a priest (Revelation 1:5,6). No one could perform his service or worship for him.

They lived godly lives. They cared for their poor. They taught others. They sent out preachers where they themselves could not go. With simplicity of faith and fervor there was no need of centralization. Without organized machinery, the gospel was preached throughout civilization in a short time (Colossians 1:23). These disciples were known as Christians (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). They wore no sectarian names. Their religion was not sensual or materialistic. They sought to impress God with the only thing that ever impresses him -- contrite obedience (1 Samual 15:22). Their appeal was not social or recreational. They offered the gospel to a troubled world for it was God's power to save (Romans 1:16) and any other appeal was beneath them.

"If only such could be today," many say. But it is! Free men and women over the earth have despaired of denominationalism, seeing in it no necessity or relevance and only a cause of division. They desire the simplicity of what Christ authored, and their number is increasing. How many have taken such a stand? Who knows?! They are related and connected only in Christ and not some organization with machinery to keep a tally. Periodicals such as Time Magazine have listed the number in this nation alone in excess of two and a quarter million. We will not assess their estimation and try to number a people spiritually belonging only to God.

What is important is that a group of such people meet within minutes of where you live. They worship and serve God in the same way the early disciples did. Christ is their only creed and the scriptures their only guide. They are not members of any human denomination, they are simply a congregation, or church, of Christ. They would like to share Christ with you and with all the world.

YOU TOO CAN BE JUST A CHRISTIAN and serve God without belonging to any denomination, bound by no denominational laws or obligations. If such freedom appeals to you, please contact us.

---Dale Smelser

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Do You Have Any Suggestions?
Getting out this paper is fun, but it's no picnic. If we print jokes, people say we are silly and too frivolous. If we don't, people say we are too serious. If we reprint things from other papers, we are too lazy to write them ourselves, and if we don't then they say we are too stuck on ourselves.

Now likely as not, someone will say we swiped this from another paper.

We did!!

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