Introducing the Church of Christ

Introducing the Church of Christ Part 8

If the Church of Christ is not exclusive, it is not unique!! If it is not unique, it has not real value. If is has not real value, men cannot be asked to give up all to follow Jesus. They may be justified in weighing the advantages of every other relationship and condition against Christianity and logically arriving at a rejection of the demanding life of commitment required by our Lord, without being faulted. But there is really no basis for such comparison, evaluation and judgment since the church is exclusive and without peer!! Its very uniqueness poses to all men the choice for or against Christ, with attendant blessings or blame; of being either in His spiritual body or out of it; or recognizing the distinction between A and non-A.
If one sweeps aside the biblical doctrine of the exclusiveness of the church, one would destroy the purpose of the church-to save the lost and be the magnet which draws every people who are drawn by God to His side!! If the church is common among men, merely a human institution, one among many; its purpose for continuing on this earth will cease!! There is NO denomination today that is in existence exactly like that which began their sect. Changes are inevitable and common among man’s faiths and therefore bring no certain surprises, yet the God who declared, “I CHANGE NOT” has never been found altering His doctrine from its first deliverance on the day of Pentecost, AD 33!! If the church is not unique among all prevarications of its denominational defectors, light will have been overcome by darkness!! Which other institution in this world is charged with the preaching of the gospel that it preached the first day of its existence other than the Church of Christ?? Who or what can convince us of a better order, teach us more truth, be found closer to the heart of God than the church for which His Son gave His life’s blood?? What church has its OWN HEAVEN prepared for its membership than the Church of Christ?? Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit; “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give me in the last day; and not to me only, but all they who love His appearing.”
As Eve was exclusively the wife of Adam so the Church of Christ is exclusively the bride of Christ. As Eve came, the only one who came, from the side of Adam; so the Church of Christ is the ONE AND ONLY bride that came from the side of Christ as He hanged on the tree of Calvary. As Eve was the only human being that was closest in age to Adam, closest in likeness, closest in perfection; so the Church of Christ!! As Eve was the most perfect, most beautiful, most desirous example of womanhood that EVER came into existence, so the Church of Christ. Jesus through Paul wrote; “she is bone of My bone and flesh of My flesh.” Name me the human institution that was bought by the blood of Christ and I will tell you of the institution that came from the side of our Lord, Acts 20:28. Name me any other human institution that was on the earth when our Lord’s evangels were here, and I will have something to BEGIN to compare with that great institution that cost the blood of the only begotten of the Father. Name me the other wife(s) that began the human race with Adam in the Garden and I can begin to name you the names of the other denominations to which our Lord communes. Tell me of the human church that has the AGE necessary, that was on the earth, that was committed to in Heaven before time began, that was purchased before she came into being; loved before she ever had name or voice, and I will begin to have something with which to compare the Church of Christ!!!, for there is nothing, NOTHING, like Her among the institutions of man, nor one worthy to be compared to Her. She is truly exclusive!!

Introducing the Church of Christ Part 7

Some of the earliest men of the Restoration Movement learned the truth by personal study. It was not a private, independent study without the help of men who had written on the subjects previously, their studies went back three or four hundred years and were made of the finest independent-thinking minds of their times. Remember, too there were NO scriptural churches in their denominational world. They, not being content with the patented doctrines of their day, searched the scriptures seeking scriptural conversion and worship, church government, and doctrinal discipline. They gradually began worshipping, teaching, and learning what the New Testament taught. The same is true of those Restoration in Europe and Australia which, coincidentally were occurring at the same time! Occasionally, there are reports of brethren finding groups in remote places already worshipping according to the New Testament pattern and following the Lord’s teaching on salvation. But they are always meeting together separate from denominational and national religious bodies. They know better than to think they can be truly Christian in any setting that is not wholly scriptural in organization and worship!! There was a story a few years back about some inmates in the Oklahoma Prison system who had contacted the Elders of a local Church of Christ inquiring about their teachings on several subjects. When an investigation had been completed, it was found that these inmates had come to the New Testament position on baptism for the remission of sins, partaking of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, and worshipping without the aid of a mechanical instrument of music. This happened in 1901 in the World Fair held in New York City. It is told that a man from Australia was passing a booth of the Churches of Christ and when picking up some of their literature, came back to the booth crying. The people in Australia had never known that someone was teaching and preaching exactly what they had preached for the past 50 or 75 years!! Never, would someone who finds the truth stay with their denomination, they immediately start a church established after the New Testament pattern!!
I have to question the motives of those persons nowadays who are pushing their assumption that there are saved people in all churches. How can they learn those truths without being free from the denominational error in which they are embroiled? What is their purpose? Is it to exalt the Church of the Lord? Is it to strengthen it? Is it to convince the denominationalist who has almost made up his mind to leave denominationalism? What is behind all this to-do we have heard about “loving them into our fellowship”?? How can we “add them to the body of Christ” when Christ, Himself WILL NOT?? There is only ONE answer; it is done to break down the walls of Zion!!
Some of the “loving” brethren who want all “baptized by immersion” souls as apart of the Body of Christ are all out for “OPEN-END CHRISTIANITY”. What is that? That is a religion in which there are not answers, no positive stands, no real authority—not even that Word of God, itself!! This is the position of subjectivism, and conversion through personal testimony rather than through the forceful teaching of Bible Doctrine!! Others are in the camp of those ultra-loving-sophisticated modernists who are tunneling and min9ng under the walls to bring about that grand amalgamation of “believers” who only just ‘love Jesus’!! They really are pushing for an International Ecumenical Movement run by an International Council of Church Officials of good will who promotes peace at any price!! They don’t consider Christ, His Testament, or His Apostles!!

Introducing the Church of Christ Part 6

Would you think it possible for a person to come to an understanding of the truth in regard to the plan of salvation, persuade a denominational preacher to baptize him “for the remission of sins”, and then mistakenly become a part of a denomination??? Some have told this writer they have in fact done such a wondrous thing. Some have acted as if I have been beside myself to not allow a person to “place membership” with this congregation based on their denominational baptism. They have felt that some “saved” person in denominationalism has been turned away from membership in this body because no one would believe their preposterous story!! The only thing “real” about their story is that it is hypothetical and not practical. In other words, their story is not real!!
Among the many questions that should be asked about such imaginary believers is this: Where did the hypothetical person learn of the true plan of salvation? They will tell you: “I read it for myself in the Bible”. To that I respond: “Did you also not read that Christ ADDS the saved to His Church? Did you not also read that “on the first day of the week, the disciples come together to Break Bread? Am I wrong in assuming that IF you could read yourself into obedience to the gospel, you could not also read yourself to others things about the Lord He has commanded?? In fact, the only place possible the denominational member could have heard of the plan of salvation would be either on a radio program, hearing a gospel preacher, or through a tract someone had given them. They definitely did not hear the plan of salvation taught in their denominational church!! A Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Pentecostal, Muslim, 7th Day Adventist, I could just deep going on, on, and on until I run out of paper naming them, WILL NOT PREACH WHAT JESUS COMMANDED HIS DISCIPLES TO ‘GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH’. Mark 16:16 I contend, then, that it is inconceivable for one to learn of the plan of salvation by reading the Bible and attending a denominational church hearing their damnable doctrine continuously taught!!! If, they could so learn the truth in that denominational setting, THEY COULD NEVER BE HAPPY STAYING!! If his/her appetite for truth is whetted by gospel preaching, reading the Bible, talking to Christians who been baptized for the remission of sins, it is inconceivable that he has not inquired what church the preacher is part of—-why they do not obey the command to partake of the Lord’s Supper, sing without the aid of a mechanical instrument of music, or just WHERE in the Bible did they ever get the NAME of their church!!! It is highly impossible that a man might pick up a tract in the bus station, read a gospel tract, know absolutely nothing about the truth (even the name of the Lord’s Church), and dash off to the first denominational preacher he can find to persuade him to perform a scriptural baptism and make him promise that on the Lord’s Day, EVERY Lord’s Day, the denominational preacher will SEE TO IT that this person gets to partake of the Lord’s Supper EVEN IF no one else in the congregation is allowed or desires to partake (this also includes the pastor??).
I preached in one of these “baptizing” denominations when I first began to preach. I was just 17 at the time. I would preach my heart out and then FORCE the group to watch as two or three of us would partake while the other 75-80 would pass it through the assembly. They would not try to stop me, but they would NEVER break the doctrine of their denomination by partaking “every first day of the week” as the Lord commanded!!
Before the question comes up, some of the earliest men in the restoration movement did learn the truth by personal study. We will continue this next week.

Introducing the Church of Christ Part 5

Jesus Christ “adds to the church”. Many tell of the “relationship” they have with Christ, yet they belong to a man-made church. They think it nothing to condone, support, and strengthen a denomination when in fact that said man-made church competes with Christ for the souls of mankind! Denominations are filled with many peoples, various special interest groups, and theological doctrines but none of them our Lord will add to any a saved man or woman!!! Wonder why?? Being in a modern denomination does not equate with being in the Church the Lord will add one to because their plans of obedience does not equate with what Christ commanded: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16
Occasionally, one of those who belong to a denomination hear enough gospel preaching to learn the truth about Christ plan of salvation, and be a strange quirk of fate, they convince themselves they too have been scripturally baptized. It is much easier to teach one who has had water sprinkled on them that their baptism is not really baptism at all, but one who has been immersed has a lot more difficulty. They think some way they have obeyed Christ after hearing a denominational theology. This is equal to learning French and declaring yourself a master in Biology, but somehow, they have convinced themselves the miraculous still exist!! They usually come up with this statement: “my understanding maybe was not what the pastor understood, but I was baptized right” First, if this could be true, why did not the Lord add them to His Church, why did they “join” the one of their choice?? Would Christ be so dilatory as to not add them to His Church IF they had “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine”??? If you were the gospel preacher who was responsible for their souls, would you “accommodate, appease, or not bring up something that would be disconcerting” to these poor lost souls?? Sometimes, these people have vivid recollections of their being “baptized into Christ” in their old Church. Again, I must ask the question: “why did not Christ add them to His Church?? Is God a respecter of persons?? Does Christ just add the BEST of the lost to His Church and leave the rest to “join” any one they chose?? Is it not true that in their old Church they never even heard of baptism for the remission of sins?? How can you obey what you have never been taught?? Some more demanding might even propose: “when I was baptized I KNEW I was being baptized FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN. Again, I must ask: “did Christ lay down on the job, or is He a respecter of persons?? You rightfully say, NO, and that I agree, but what happened, why did you “join” some man-made Church, why did not Christ ADD YOU TO HIS CHURCH?? Acts 2:47 will stand the test of the judgment, will your denominational baptism?? Are you going to tell Jesus Christ that He made a mistake when He put you in that denominational fellowship?? IF, if they were wrong about the church they chose and “joined” is it not as likely they were wrong about their baptism??? If this person is as sincere as it is always reported of him, why can he not simply start all over, to be sure HE IS RIGHT??
But is it possible for a person to come to an understanding of the truth in regard to the plan of salvation, persuade a denominational preacher to baptize him for the remission of sins, and then mistakenly become a part of a denomination?? Some have re-written what they in fact actually DID because after hearing the gospel they cannot reason WHY they would not have obeyed exactly what they NOW are hearing!! Again, I have to ask another question: are there any saved in denominational bodies??

Introducing the Church of Christ Part 4

Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 That amounts to an invitation to everyone to accept the gospel and be ‘added to the church’. Acts 2:47 But Jesus also said, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16 The church is open to ALL, upon conditions imposed by ITS FOUNDER AND HEAD!! But the volition, acceptance of the terms imposed, obedience to the demands of the Captain of Salvation is involved. He determines whether he will be saved or condemned by his or her willingness to do what is demanded by the Head of the Body!! The church DOES NOT make that determination. The church has earnestly shown its desire for His salvation and has shown it by obeying from the heart whatever He commanded. The only way to be in this exclusive body is to OBEY what the Master demands!! It cannot be preached otherwise!! Exclusion, then, is something the disbeliever chooses as the alternative to faith IF they decide to reject Christ’ demands for admittance, even IF the disbeliever decides to make up his or her OWN plan!!
The uniqueness of the church is not the only ground of exclusiveness of the church, for man’s reaction to God’s will enters the picture. His saved or unsaved condition opens consideration of another ground of exclusiveness, which is that the Lord does not add the unsaved to His church, nor does He add the saved to anything that is NOT His church!! It should not be surprising that to be apart of ANY organization those who seek to become apart of it MUST meets the terms of admittance! To ignore these terms would be that same as ignoring the organization. Open membership cannot secure anything but total confusion and anarchy. Membership on terms acceptable to the would-be-entrant and not the organization and especially its Head, would destroy any ability to sustain itself the organization would or could have!!
All the initial commands of the gospel simultaneously exclude and include. The command to believe excludes unbelievers, while it includes those who accept the testimony of the Word. The command to repent excludes those who cannot bring themselves to turn from sin, but places divine approval on all who will. The command to be baptized for the remission of sins excludes those who think belief ONLY suffices or who are not scripturally baptized, while it saves those who in good conscience toward God manifest in this act of surrender, themselves, their will, AND their life. Every step of obedience excludes those who choose to be excluded!! But, when the believer repents and is baptized because he has faith in the Captain of his salvation, he is added to the body of obedient believers who, like himself, are saved!! Acts 2:47 He is included in and among the “called-out”. 2 Corinthians 6:17 The Lord Jesus Christ himself acts on behalf of the believer who has just ‘obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine’; it is the Lord who adds to His church, none other. If you are not a member of the Lord’s Church, maybe this may cause you to re-consider your obedience to what gospel, look again at what you did or did not do, and repent and do those things He has demanded or forget about being apart of the redeemed!!
It is obvious from the fact that the Lord’s action takes place AFTER baptism for the remission of sins that NO unsaved person is added to the Church of Christ. One is not added to the saved when he has believed or when he has both believed and repented. He has, in this state, yet to receive the forgiveness of sin. Rotten apples rot apples.

Introducing the Church of Christ Part 3

Some members of the Churches of Christ cringe when they hear denominationalists say, “You and your little bunch think you are the only ones going to heaven.” That statement is calculated to get under the skin, not promote understanding. Those who have this attitude have most of the time heard, run into, or been defeated by the Truth of God’s Word and have hurt feelings because someone loved the Lord enough to defend His doctrine. When those of us who are “set for the defense” of the Gospel meet people who have this attitude handle people like this with a “I don’t belong to a ‘little bunch’ I belong to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as far as I have been instructed, He has only ONE such Kingdom.”
Some who are not as well grounded in the faith or as certain of the Biblical doctrine concerning the Church Christ married to which they belong reply or imply, “Oh no! We don’t think that! That’s not the way we are at all!” It is quite an embarrassing dilemma for the unstable. It puts some in the position of being ashamed of being right and embarrassed their friends have found out about it. There is NOTHING shameful about being right religiously!! IN fact, it is the state we should desire!! The New Testament is RIGHT!! If those of our acquaintance have not found out about the Truth in God’s Word, we should not be ashamed of God’s Word, we should be ashamed of our have not told them that Truth!! If we follow the New Testament (and all denominations incorrectly tell their followers they themselves follow the Bible forgetting their church manual, catechism, prayer-book which determines what they believe and teach), WE ARE RIGHT AND NEED NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT!! Again, we do not have a “bunch” either big or little. All they have to do is listen to the “worthy name” we wear to notice the Church is not named after any human being, it is named after Christ!! What the Bible teaches is that the New Testament Church is composed of the redeemed, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 1:7, and if we have obeyed the gospel, we are the property of Jesus Christ, not ourselves and are therefore NOT RESPONSIBLE for the name Christ has given us!!
Because one of the dictionary definitions of exclusive is “snobbishly aloof”, and because we are not exclusive in that sense, we may be inclined to deny all exclusiveness when confronted with the “your little bunch” taunt. If we deny exclusiveness, however, we are throwing away much of the teaching of God’s Word. It is a fact that the church is exclusive! God made it that way. God also made man’s response to His will the deciding factor in the matter-He gave man free moral agency. But God retains the right of judgment. God’s commands exclude those who exclude God’s Commands. Persons may exclude God and His church from their lives by refusal to obey His commands, then complain that those who have a more complete faith are exclusive, but their refusal to obey God will not satisfy justice that the Law demands. To become defensive or apologetic in the face of such ill-conceived thrusts is to accept undeserved blame!!
The church is not exclusive in the sense of not wanting others to participate in the blessings of God-it is not snobbishly aloof!! Christians do not rejoice when a person refuses Christ. They react with sorrow and regret, for they want all men to be saved. Christians are not possessed of a mean spirit of selfishness about the church. They do not consider it a private club. That is not what is meant by affirming that the church is exclusive!!

Introducing the Church of Christ Part 2

Every real thing has limits or characteristics peculiar to itself. These make up its identity; they distinguish it from other real things. A block of lead and a block of wood may have the same dimensions, but they differ in other characteristics and cannot be called identical simply because they are the same size!! Things in the same category are not necessarily interchangeable merely on the basis of that they are in the same category. To say another church started by some man or woman are equal to and the same as the Church bought by the blood of Christ on Calvary’s tree contradicts everything that defines anything that can be defined. Men and women are in the same category and are not necessarily interchangeable merely on the basis of the fact they are Human Beings. One cannot say a man, because he is a human being, should be equal to the woman and vice versa. They are seen to be different by what defines them physically, socially, and spiritually. Are, just because a woman can lead a beautiful public prayer does not mean she can lead the congregation of Christ’s Body in prayer when we assemble. Each sex has its own characteristic features and these limit/bar males from being female and female from being male. Men are men but when one has “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine delivered”, he has entered into a different relationship with Deity and for the first time can obligate Jesus Christ to take him into the presence of the Ancient of Days for communication with the Heavenly Father. Alien sinners have no high priest, no intercessor, no advocate, and no friend at the Bar of Heaven who can put them in the position to so address the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!! Just because a sinner, estranged from the fellowship of God because of un-forgiven sin can speak audible words, does not mean that God the Father will entertain his words!!
Within the more restricted category of maleness, there are individual characteristics which limit one man from being another man. One man’s hand is different from all other hands; each fingerprint excludes all other fingerprints. The limits of each real thing serves to exclude every other thing from it even if they be in the same category!! If we destroy the limits which characteristics define anything, we destroy its individual identity!! Burn off a man’s fingertips and you destroy the most vital way to define him as a certain certain human being. When one thinks anyone can become a Christian anyway they FEEL or THINK and ignores what distinctively describes a Christian from any other human being, one will destroy any sense or way of determining what it means to be a Christian!! Denominationalism has had a massive campaign for the past 500 years to confuse and mingle to insensitivity any distinction which would separate a Christian from a “want a be” who will not or has not “obeyed from the heart that FORM (emphasis mine) of doctrine, plan of salvation, or means of entrance into His Kingdom. Jesus Christ demands of ALL WHOM HE ADDS TOI HIS CHURCH, AND REMEMBER, IT IS HE WHO DOES THE ADDING, NOT SOME ASSOCIATION OF MEN!!
As to the identity of a matter. The Church, since it is not like anything else and nothing else is like it, is exclusive!! It is no more to be censured for this exclusiveness than is the block of wood t0o is blamed for not being a block of lead. The Church is exclusive because of WHAT IT IS and WHO BOUGHT HER!! There is NO OTHER religious institution that exist whose originator, founder, instigator, and sovereign gave His life to bring her into existence!! NO OTHER!! Name the church, name its founder.

Introducing the Church of Christ

The Church of Christ is exclusive-the special and only realm of the saved on earth-and cannot be otherwise. There are some who will think this claim egotistic and repulsive; they only have to study the subject a little more and they will find this claim true and given by Deity.
The Bible teaches there is but ONE FAITH, Ephesians 4:5. That faith has been ONCE and for all delivered to the saints. Jude vs 3 It is carefully and fully delineated in the pages of the New Testament and is, therefore, identifiable. Since for His Church God has made such claims, because of the credibility of that Church God has made the Church SO definitely definable and distinguishable that no one looking for truth can not find her!! There is NO JUSTIFICATION for anyone to invent or adopt systems of belief other than the faith fully described in God’s Book. God did not leave Himself an unfinished document that man would have to add to or take from so as to complete it; He did not leave Himself evasive or contradictory so man would have to improve on its wording later; neither did He have His Word written by just any person or persons-the Word of God was WRITTEN BY MEN WHO WERE INSPIRED!! Inspiration ceased by 80 AD so document written after that date would bear the inscription ‘Inspired by God’!! IF men devise religious systems apart from the faith once for all delivered, Jude vs 3, they have not succeeded in creating a NEW faith; they have in fact succeeded in creating NO faith!! To produce documents that claim inspiration when it was impossible for inspiration to be, to produce works that compete with God’s masterpiece showing ultimate disrespect for the authority of God, or to write creeds, manuals, disciplines, or church beliefs that are outside, contradict, and refute Inspiration is the most diabolical of schemes to deceive men and send to a Christ-less-grave!! Creeds, manuals, prayer books, and the like destroy the Divine singularity, namely the Word of God by attempting to compete with it!! Again, when one departs for the faith-producing-Word of God they can have a NO FAITH for the Book that produces Faith is the Book they have sought to change!! As insulting as it seems, these religious denominations are the very people who have SO much to say about FAITH. They do not adhere to the principle laid down in 1 Peter 4:11 and are, therefore, something different from the faith that is based on and completely respects God’s Will!!
We cannot argue the sameness of A, B, C, and D. for they are obviously not identical either in form or function (if they were identical they would not have different letters that represent them). If A were B and B were C they would not exist as anything different to each other, they would exist as the SAME, but then they would not be lettered differently. It might be true that they are all letters of the alphabet and are, the, in the same category, but no one would think them the exact same otherwise they would not receive different notations that describe them. No A is anything but an A, A is not B. No A is B, right? Religion is a category. Buddhism, Shintoism, Muslimism, nor Judaism is Christianity though they all are in the category called religion. At least Judaism and Christianity were ordained by God, in that they alone are alike. Christianity replaced Judaism, which was taken out of the way in the cross of Christ. Christianity remains the ONLY revealed religion FROM God, ORDAINED of God, and INSPIRED of God. If New Testament Christianity is represented by A, other systems in the general category of religion, whether living or dead, may be represented only by B, C, D, E and the like. There is A, and there are multiple NON-A’s, they are not the same