Know Your Bible
VOL. 14 May 17, 2015 NO. 10
WHICH CHURCH IS RIGHT?
With the situation in the religious world being what it is, this may sound like a ridiculous question to some. We so often hear, "Join the church of your choice," or "One church is as good as another"and "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere." This is what man says but is this what God says about it? Does it matter what church you join and support?
In Matthew 16:18 we have the first mention made of the church: Jesus said, "And I say unto you that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". Note that He said "church" - not churches. Jesus intended only to build one church and we must know that one is all He built.
Ephesians 4:4-6 teaches there "is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." The "one body" is one church, for the body of Christ is the church, and Christ as the head of it “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:22, 23) “22 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,” (Col. 1:18, 24). If there is only one body and the body is the church, it follows that there is only one church.
When we look about us and see there are many "churches", there should be no doubt that something is not right! Instead of praising denominationalism, as we hear so many do, we should hang our heads in shame at the gross error and division that is its fruit. What we have now is not what Jesus intended at all.
So, which church is right? We must look to the Scriptures to know the answer and not to human opinions. We must first see what the scriptures teach concerning what constitutes the church. Who are members of the body of Christ, the church? In Acts 2:47 we learn those who were added to the church were those who were being saved. The next identifying mark of the true church is that they teach and practice only what the head of the church has authorized. Since Christ has been given all authority (Matt. 28:18), the true church follows the words of Christ. They have no creed but the Bible and no Head but Christ. If a church has its own creed or recognizes anyone but Christ as its authority, it cannot be rightly called the Lord’s church. If you investigate denominations, you will find that very few do not have a creed, and most, though they claim allegiance to Christ, will reject some portion of Scripture because it does not agree with what they teach and/or practice.
The right church is the one that has wholly submitted itself to the will of Christ, and endeavors to continue in His will. The true, "right" church seeks to please Christ and not self. Even then, the "right" church will have its faults because it is made up of imperfect people; Christians still sin and they still make mistakes. If, in the true church, error is discovered, they will humble themselves and make corrections. You may not find a "perfect" church, but you can find the right one; the Lord’s church.
—E.R. Hall, Jr.
THE CHURCH MIMICKING SOCIETY
It is amazing how the attitudes and actions of “ hristians," who are especially involved in movements away from the New Testament pattern, manage to mimic secular and political movements in the world around them.
As the early apostate church evolved into the Catholicism it’s organizational structure became more and more patterned after the Roman government. The Pope paralleled the Emperor. The Cardinals paralleled the Senate. Then the various levels of authority from there on down to the parish priest had their counterparts in the government of Rome.
The "liberal" and "conservative" views of political authority is often mirrored by similar mind-sets in the church in this country. Both vocally express respect for the authoritative documents that are supposed to govern our behavior. In national affairs, it is the Constitution. In church affairs, it is the Scriptures. The political conservative believes that as a country we can only do what is expressly permitted by the constitution. The political liberal believes that as a country we can do anything that is not expressly forbidden by the constitution. When it comes to the document itself, the liberal is a "loose constructionist" while the conservative is a "strict constructionist." The conservative believes in following the "letter" as well as the spirit of the law. The liberal believes that following the "spirit" of the law is sufficient. In the church and spiritual matters, the conservative believes we can only do what is expressly permitted by the Bible. The liberal believes we can do anything not expressly forbidden by the Bible. The similarities between the two views in both the political and religious realm is in deed striking.
In recent years, I have noticed a striking parallel in a movement in society that is mimicked among some in the church. It is the hippy movement. Those of us who are a bit older can remember the height of the hippy movement. It was a movement that professed to see all the wrongs of our society, or as they often called it "the establishment." It was a movement to act differently and to appear differently from the rest of society – mostly different for the sake of being different. They found creative ways to show their disdain for anything they considered "mainstream." They loved being known as non-conformist, yet they came be conformists in that they all conformed to a similar attitude, a “non-conformist" dress code, a kindred spirit and similar M.O. wherever they were found.
As this movement declined we have seen a parallel movement in the church. It is the so-called "non-traditionalist" movement. An element arose, and is still very much with us, that seems to have a disdain for anything that has been practiced in congregations for more than as long as they can remember. Like their counterparts in society, they are short on solutions but long on what they see as wrong in the way things are being done. They seem not to know the difference in being different as a natural consequences of doing right in the midst of a crooked world; and marching to a different tune just for the sake of being different. The Apostle Paul did the very opposite. He was unwilling to be different just for difference sake. On the other hand, he conformed to the customs (that did violate the word) of those among whom he worked for the overall good of the Cause. (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Would he yield or conform in those things that would harm the gospel and the church? Never. (Gal. 2:5). But, in those things he could, he yielded for the good of the Lord’s church.
Before I quit, let me point out something about "tradition." Tradition just means it is something that has been handed down. There are the traditions handed down by the Bible writers that must be kept. (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). There are traditions handed down by men that set aside the commandment of God that must not be kept. (Matt. 15:2,3,6). Then there are traditions or customs that have been handed down over a long period of time that are not wrong within themselves. Most of these involve unspecified ways and means of carrying out the traditions received from the Apostles. Many of these were developed over many years and are still practiced because they have proven to be effective. There is something to be said for "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." It seems to me that one would have to be some kind of egotist to think that replacing expedients, that have proven effective over many years, with his unproven and untried "new" way of doing things (because it is more "meaningful" to him) – especially insisting on it to the disturbance congregational peace.
I need to note also that these new hippies, in some cases, have gone beyond disdain for old ways (expedients) of doing things, to a disdain for old traditions (doctrines) handed down by the Lord through His apostles as well.
—Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.
--- E.R. Hall, Jr.
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