Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          June 16, 2013                                                                                                                            NO. 19



In the church of our Lord today we find a concentrated effort to enlarge the kingdom numerically. This is indeed good, and we commend the efforts of those who faithfully proclaim the gospel to save souls. Yet there is an element which appears to us most unsavory. This is the aiming at sheer numbers with neglect to the spiritual, and thereby the arrangement which God has provided.

We hear of vast promotional schemes, of millions of dollars spent to make the church (?) known in the world. Churches of Christ are entering the secular education business, the entertainment business, the welfare business in order to bring souls into the church.

This sort of action has results. We are told of churches growing by leaps and bounds. Meeting houses are built and furnished at the cost of millions of dollars. Results, yes; but at what cost!

It would appear that brethren never profit by the lessons of history. We are reminded of the fact that in the early days of the church, when Christians were suffering under heavy persecution, the faith was exactingly kept. Christianity was pure. Worship was conducted in spirit and truth, and lives of the saints were lived in moral excellence. The doctrine was strictly that which was revealed in the New Testament by inspired men.

Then, in the fourth century the Roman emperor, Constantine, was "converted to Christianity." The religion suddenly became popular in the world. Thousands flocked to it, but bringing with them their deeply ingrained pagan customs and beliefs. Just as suddenly, Christianity began to decline. Morals receded. The worship was corrupted. The doctrine evolved to the teachings of men. The way was paved for the establishment of the Catholic Church a few hundred years hence.

Today in the process of the various church enterprises and promotional schemes, principles governing the operation of the church have been neglected and abandoned. The abandonment of one principle leads to the abandonment of another. Spiritual decay spreads fast.

When we bring our vast numbers in, to what do we bring them in? A decadent church, an institution no longer recognized by God? Why teach a man the truth if it leads him to membership in an organization operating according to the dictates of men? Bring them in, yes indeed! But bring them in to the church founded upon Jesus Christ as He is revealed by His apostles; the church based soundly upon the teaching of the Word of God Almighty!

---J. David Lawrence 

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Someone said to me once, "If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs would he have?" This is one time I bit the dog. I answered, "five." After the laughter had subsided and I felt utterly ridiculous, I was reminded it does not matter what you call a dog's tail, it will always be a tail. I learned a good lesson from that incident, a lesson everyone needs to learn.

I suppose there is no area where people are guilty of calling a thing something it is not, more than in religious circles. I have observed a number of things practiced in religion which are not what they are said to be. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to mention a few of them. 

One of the more familiar cases of this is the denominational practice of sprinkling and pouring which they call "baptism." Does calling sprinkling and pouring "baptism" make them such? Not at all. Paul says, "we are buried with him by baptism" (Rom.6:4). Baptism is a burial. Sprinkling nor pouring fit into this meaning, and to call them "baptism" does not make it so. Sprinkling is still sprinkling, and pouring is still pouring, and baptism is still baptism (a burial). 

Most religious bodies today call Sunday "the Sabbath Day," but that does not make it so. The Sabbath was the seventh day of the week ( Ex.20:8-11), and Sunday is the first day of the week. To call the first day "the Sabbath" will not change it in the least. The Catholic counts his beads and calls it "prayer;" the Mormon uses water in the Lord's Supper and calls it "the fruit of the vine;" the Holiness jabber and call it "speaking in tongues;" they lay their hands on the sick and pray, and call it "miraculous healing;" and nearly all of the denominational churches use mechanical instruments and call it "singing."

Why not call it what it is? Or, are we afraid we cannot find scriptural authority for our practices if we call them what they really are? 

Brethren are not immune to the use of this type of justification for their practices. They attend one hour of services a week and call it "faithful;" some take a little drink now and then and call it "being sociable;" and some dance and let their children dance, and call it "being graceful." Many congregations have built places to eat and to play with the Lord's money, and they call it "fellowship;" and they have built and maintained super organizations for the purpose of doing the work of the church and called them "methods." Brethren, it makes no difference what we call these things for which we have no Bible authority. To call them something other than what they are will not change them from what they are. A dog's tail is still a tail regardless of what you call it. Call it what it is, and you will not be deceived by it. 

The apostles Paul said of those who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, that "God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:10-12). "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal.6:7,8). Call it what it is. If you don't, the Lord will! (Matt.7:21-23).

---Arthur M. Ogden

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If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of man was an accident, too.

If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds true for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. 

But if their thoughts – i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy – are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.

It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.

---C.S. Lewis

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