Know Your Bible

VOL. 14                                                                                                                         May 29, 2016                                                                                                                            NO. 11



"Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them" (Hebrews 2:1, ASV).

The word 'drifting' aptly describes the process of apostasy. It is seldom accomplished by giant leaps; rather it is the result of short steps. The steps appear to be only the slightest variation from the accepted truth and altogether innocent, but each one is used as justification for the next one until truth has been left completely, even by individuals who would never have dreamed it possible.

We have known of congregations where a piano was first allowed in the basement to teach children how to sing. But having learned with it, the children continued to need it in their Bible classes. Once this was allowed, someone asked the difference in young folks and adults — the difference in Wednesday night and Sunday night. No logical difference could be shown so it was allowed at those times.

Then someone had only to point out the inconsistency in using it Sunday night and refusing it Sunday morning, and from then on it was used at all services, a thing that would have been opposed when the piano was first moved into the basement.

A group of Americans preaching in Africa said they were strongly opposed to churches of Christ operating a hospital in the United States. But they thought churches could and should support a nurse in Nigeria to treat wounds and minor illnesses. But once the nurse was supported, a hospital was proposed. Anyone who objected would be asked, "If you can support a nurse and clinic, why not a doctor and hospital?" No logical difference could be shown, so the hospital was built. Often now we are hearing of a proposal for a "Church of Christ Hospital" in the United States. The argument: "If we can do it in Nigeria, why not here?" Granted that premise, no sound reason can be given. It all started with letting a church support a nurse.

A church we know has a kitchen. They defend it on the grounds that it costs the church nothing. The kitchen and equipment were in the building when it was purchased and they have a minimum electric and water bill each month, anyway. But a generation will arise that is accustomed to the kitchen. They will want to build a new building and they will want a kitchen. Their argument will be "We've always had a kitchen. If we could have it in the old building, why not in the new?" There will be no chance of keeping it out.

In our town, a kindergarten is beginning in the meetinghouse of one of the churches. In a news item, it is stated, "The kindergarten will be at the church, but will not be operated by the church." This will satisfy the minds of many who would object to the church operating or supporting a school of any kind. But one of these days another step will be proposed. It may be opening a first grade. If someone objects, the question will be raised, "But what is the difference in a first grade and kindergarten?" There is no difference, so the opposition will be silenced and the way will be clear for second grade, third grade, etc., etc.

But some day the school will need to be subsidized. Those opposed to support of education will rise up to object. But someone will say, "It's true we haven't been contributing from the treasury, but we have been providing a place for the school and it has been using the name of the church. Now if we can contribute facilities and influence, why not money?" That question will be hard to answer, for there is no difference and the opposition will then be silenced.

From this, the next logical step will be to send money to a college, because, after all, what is the difference between contributing to our own school and contributing to one operated by someone else? And it all began with a kindergarten, which “will be at the church, but will not be operated by the church."

Truly, "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow." The mistake is ever allowing an acorn to get mixed with the seed of the kingdom. Every innovation, regardless of how small, must be rejected, not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of attendant corruptions that will surely follow in its train. 

—Sewell Hall

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We take caution not to change things in the church or its worship service. We know that God does not change (Malachi 3:6).  We know that the word of the Lord will abide forever (Isaiah 40:8). There are some things that should never change, yet they do all the time.

Everything we do in life transforms and changes the way we do things. I remember that once, I had to sit in the hallway to talk on the telephone, because that is where the telephone was plugged into the wall.  Now we carry our phones around with us and use wireless handsets and talk on the phone while doing our chores around the house.

I am sure that many of us remember when there were only three or four channels that we could get on our TV sets. Remember when most TV's were black and white? Now we have TV's, movies, and concerts streamed onto any electronic device, and we can watch them whenever we want and not be at the mercy of the broadcast station.

There is so much of our world that has changed that only a few of the younger folk have no idea what it means to see change.  My young grand-kids can operate any electronic device in their home, and I am still trying to figure out how to use my cellphone. I am sure many of us feel this way.

Now, as much as we want to keep change out of the church, we have to face the reality that things have changed a great deal. Our challenge is to not let these changes hurt our souls. In many congregations it is actually doing that because of the changes that have already taken place, and the changes that certain "change-agents" want to take place are being forced upon the rest of the groups.

Some Christians who are trying to remain faithful are seeing some of the changes that have hurt the church in recent years. I remember the days when members of the church of Christ had a reputation for knowing their bibles better than anyone else from any other religious group. We cannot say that anymore. Bible illiteracy is so common that people are not even embarrassed that they do not know their bibles anymore.

We know that our culture and society has a definite impact upon the church. Our world is entertainment driven and motivated by greed. It is not unusual anymore that this does not cause church leadership to seek ways to please or entertain the crowds. They are almost forced to do this entertainment because they feel they will lose members or young people if they do not change.

Remember that the preaching of the gospel was all we needed to bring people to the Lord? Now, most of our members believe that we cannot attract anyone by pure gospel preaching. We must offer incentives of food, frolic, and fun to bring people in.

The changes that have taken place have been so subtle that we have not seen it happen. About the only people who recognize the changes are those who left the church and returned some time later.  What they find is much different from what they left.

We must find the one way once again. We must look to ourselves and our brethren and see if we have not changed. It is time for self-evaluation (2 Corinthians 13:5). We must get back to the Bible ways.

—Carey Scott

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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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