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Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Jesus Should Have Failed

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Brief Articles page.]

Introduction

Never has anyone on earth been more successful than Jesus of Nazareth. He accomplished exactly what He came to accomplish: “For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “I glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do” (John 17:4). He confirmed His message, and He proved His identity to every objective observer by His mighty works (John 3:5; 20:30–31; Acts 2:22).

When humanistic philosophers see such things as His poverty level of existence, they brand Him a failure. His friends thought Him to be beside Himself (Mark 3:21) His own fleshly brethren rejected His claims (John 7:3–5). He was a rebel against the religio-political norms and leaders of His day; they constantly challenged and rejected Him and did all they could to discredit Him. At one point even many of His disciples turned back and “walked no more with him” (John 6:66). Finally, at the young age of thirty-three years, His enemies succeeded in nailing Him to a Roman cross, the execution reserved for the worst felons.

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Denominationalism—Its Causes, Contradictions, Consequences, and Cures

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Manuscripts page.]

Introduction

The Apple Online Dictionary defines the religious connotation of denomination as “a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church.” The honest and perceptive student of Scripture realizes that Christianity in the days of the apostles was vastly different from the maze of today’s conflicting, confused, and convoluted denominational structure commonly called “denominationalism.” An unknown (but appreciated) author has given us the following incisive description of denominationalism:

A denomination is a religious body with extra-Biblical peculiarities distinguishing it from the church revealed in the Bible. It is utterly impossible for any denomination to exist without men believing something, doing something, being something, saying something, or having something that is not in the Word of God. All denominations teach more or less of what is in the Bible. However, the things they teach that are in the Bible do not make them denominations, but the things they teach that are not in the Bible.

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An Inspired Warning to Change Agents

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Brief Articles page.]

Solomon long ago had some words of wisdom for all of those who think change for the sake of change is as necessary as breathing: “My son, fear thou Jehovah and the king; And company not with them that are given to change” (Pro. 24:21). Significantly, those who so eagerly urge change in our teaching and practice thereby demonstrate their lack of fear of Jehovah God. In fact, they consider the concept of fear of God to be heresy. Those who have a Scriptural fear for the Almighty would not dare to presume to either augment or diminish the Gospel by one iota.

There is also a warning in Solomon’s words for those who do fear God: “Company not with them that are given to change.” There is already a wide breach between brethren, but it is destined to grow wider and finally become an unbridgeable chasm, even as it did a century ago. On the one hand there are those of us who, like Paul, are determined to shrink not from “declaring the whole counsel of God” and who are “set for the defence of the gospel” (Acts 20:27; Phi. 1:16). On the other hand there are many who have ceased to “give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard [the Gospel]” and they have already “drifted away from them” (Heb. 2:1). These are those who can no longer be content with the purity and simplicity of the primitive Gospel. While we remain firmly rooted in the apostles’ doctrine, they have cut themselves loose from its restrictions. They are still in the drifting and changing process. The full extent of their eventual apostasy is any man’s guess, but many of them have adopted seed principles sufficiently corrupt to take them to full-blown denominational status. It is not a question of whether we must cease to have any company with them, but only one of when. Some are already so far gone that fellowshipping them would be little different from fellowshipping the Disciples of Christ denomination. Many others are well on their way down the same broad and wicked path. The cause of it all is their willingness to change the unchangeable Gospel.

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The Gospel of Christ Is Unchanged and Unchanging

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Manuscripts page.]

Introduction

The cry for change was the main theme of William Jefferson Clinton and a press bi­ased toward him in the last presidential campaign. This cry was what swept him into office more than any other single thing. In order to bring about the changes it sought, a liberal news media was willing to overlook both his lack of qualifications and character. Change-at-whatever-price seemed to be the demon that drove them. They accomplished their aim and we now have a man (and woman) in the Whitehouse who are a dis­grace to our nation and who bode disaster for it.

The cry for change in the Lord’s church has been heard with increasing frequency and intensity in recent years. Those calling for changes in the church, like their political counterparts, seem determined to effect it at whatever price it may exact on the body of Christ. This cry is heard in various books that our brethren have written (e.g., The Church in Transition, by Jim Woodroof, The Cruci­form Church, by Leonard Allen). It is heard in various journals (e.g., Image, Wine­skins, Christian Chronicle). It is heard in speeches made at lecture­ships, conferences, and workshops (e.g., Nashville “Jubilee,” Tulsa Soul-winning Workshop, “unity” forums, various university campuses, et al.). Articles and even workshops are now appearing more frequently on how to accomplish change and how to be “change agents” in local congregations.

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History Repeats

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Brief Articles page.]

A century and a half ago, a few brethren who were determined to have what pleased them in religion were willing to sacrifice respect for both the statement and the silence of Scripture in order to have their idols (primarily musical instruments and unauthorized evangelistic organizations). By the beginning of the last century that element had captured most of the congregations and schools then existing. Those “loving liberals” forced out brethren who were determined to observe the limits imposed by the law of Christ. In very many cases, the Truth-loving remnant (15% of the once united brotherhood) were driven from the congregations (and buildings) they had helped build. These had to begin all over again by meeting in homes and rented or borrowed facilities.

The Lord designed His church with no human head or board over it. Therefore, universal, simultaneous apostasy and division did not (and cannot) occur in the church of Christ. Thus the digression-driven division gradually occurred over the last half of the nineteenth century, church by church. The 1906 US census recognized the church-wide division. Those who drove this wedge of division were initially progressive brethren, but within a generation they had morphed into two distinct denominations (the Independent Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ). Brethren today who refer to these sects as “brethren” err greatly. These denominations are not digressive or apostate “brethren”; they long ago became “plants” that God did not “plant,” and we ought to “let them alone” (Mat. 15:13–14).

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