WHAT CHURCH IS CHRIST
by Bob Thompson
"Prove all things: Hold fast that which is good." 1 Thes. 5:21
From the Bible's lofty watch-tower, O'er Christendom I gaze,
And see such man-made worship, which doth my mind amaze.
All forms of adoration, around, abroad I trace;
The spirit of "devotion" prevails in every place.
Devotion to a building, devotion to a "cause"
Devotion to a prayer-book, compiled by human laws,
Devotion to a mission, devotion to a sect;
Devotion to a preacher, whom they, themselves, elect.
Now while all this awed attention is a striking sight to see,
I miss one TRUE devotion which much distresses me;
All these sectarian actions small comfort doth afford -
I yearn to see more plainly Devotion to the Lord!
Yes, He alone is worthy of worship, honor, praise;
His precious blood bath saved us from Hell's destroying rays.
Come! Let us all adore Him, fast cleaving to His Word;
And show to all around us, DEVOTION TO THE LORD!
- T. B.
The following is a description of the function and character of the one, true Church which Christ is building in this dispensation of grace, of which Church every soul is made a member the instant he receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his own personal Saviour from sin; the moment he truly believes from his heart that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures...and was seen." 1 Cor. 15:1-5.
FORETOLD BY CHRIST
Matt. 16:18 - "...and upon this Rock (i.e. upon "Christ... the Son of the living God" -according to Peter's confession) I will build my Church." (Notice, Christ said "I will build...")
CHRIST IS THE ONE SUPREME HEAD OF THIS CHURCH
Col. 1:18 - "And He is the Head of the body, the Church."
Eph. 1:22-23 - "And He (the Father) hath put all things under His (Christ's) feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body".
CHRISTIANS TOGETHER MAKE UP THIS CHURCH (It is not man made)
Heb. 3:6 - "But Christ as a Son over His own house, which house are WE."
1 Peter 2:5 - "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
Eph. 2:22 - "Ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
THE LORD HIMSELF PLACES THE MEMBERS IN THIS BODY, NOT MEN. - (You can not join it)
1 Cor. 12:18 - "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him." (Neither water baptism nor any other work of the flesh can accomplish this. Here is a supernatural "operation of God" - Col. 2:12).
Acts 7:48-49 - "Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet. Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?"
Acts 17:24-25 - "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything..."
I Cor. 6:19 - "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
THE WORD "CHURCH" WE UNDERSTAND TO MEAN:
Greek: "ecclesia" -meaning "an assembly of called-out ones". When used of believers in Christ, it is one, universal body of people "called out", embracing all who have accepted Christ as their sacrifice for sins and their risen Lord.
THIS CHURCH IS ETERNAL
I Thess. 4:16-18 gives a description of the Church being taken out of this world. Everything man makes, builds, or invents, must stop with the grave, but the Church which Christ is building knows no such boundary line. It will be carried over into eternity to be presented "as a chaste virgin to Christ...without spot or wrinkle...holy and without blemish". (See 2 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:27).
IT IS BUILT UPON JESUS CHRIST
1 Cor. 3:11 - "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
IT BEGAN AT PENTECOST
Acts 1:5 - "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence".
Acts 2:1-4 - "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come...they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (Spirit - John 14:16-17). The "filling" here is the baptism of the Holy Spirit as promised in Acts 1:5 above, marking the beginning of the Church.
1 Cor. 12:13 - "For by (or "in") one Spirit are we all baptized into one body".
Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18 - "The Church which is His body". (This is the present "out-calling", the body of Christ, the Church of Gal. 1:13, into which those at Pentecost were baptized with the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus. See below for proof.)
"BULLINGERISM" AND ACTS 28:28
There are some who follow the teachings of the late E. W. Bullinger of England who erroneously teach, as he did, that the body of 1 Cor. 12:13 is not the same body as Eph, 4:4; that therefore the Church existing today did not begin at Pentecost but rather after the period covered by the book of Acts - Acts 28:28 being the dividing line. One of the exponents of this pernicious doctrine, who now lives in Southern California, accurately stated the position held by Bullinger when he said in one of his booklets that he was ready to defend with the Word of God the teaching that "all who were saved from Pentecost to Acts 28: 28 were given a position in 'the Church of God' and all who were saved after that time were given a position in 'the Church which is His body' ". Bullinger held that "they are two distinct churches".
It is true that the Church which began at Pentecost is referred to by the Apostle Paul as "the Church of God" in 1 Cor. 1:2; 15:9 and Gal. 1:13, which epistles were written before Acts 28:28. But if what the writer of the above says is true, then why is it that in his first epistle to Timothy, written a year or more after Acts 28: 28, the Apostle Paul still refers to the Church as "The Church of God"??? See 1 Timothy 3:5; 3:15.
Moreover, before Acts 28:28 every Christian was "sealed" in one body in Christ by the one Spirit of Eph. 4:4, just as every believer since Acts 28:28 has been "sealed" in one body in Christ by the Spirit of Eph. 4:4, as proven by the following verses:
2 Cor. 1:21-22 - (written before Acts 28:28) - "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ...hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." See also 2 Cor. 5:5.
Eph. 1:12-14 - (written after Acts 28:28) - "Who first trusted in Christ...in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance..."
It is incredible that any sane thinking person should teach, as do the "Bullingerites" that believing Jews and Gentiles were put in Christ, "the Church of God" (1 Cor. 1:2), sealed there by the Holy Spirit until Acts 28:28, after which the seal was broken and they were taken out of Christ, "the Church of God" (1 Tim. 2:5) and again sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. 1:13).
What pride and bigotry one must have to cling to such nonsense, and yet there are otherwise intelligent and able Bible teachers who have been propagating this error for years. None of these teachers, of course, would admit that the above paragraph is what they teach, but their preaching of the "two bodies" forces them into this embarrassing position.
OUR NAMES ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN No earthly membership papers are necessary.
Heb. 12:23 - "And to the...Church of the firstborn, which are written in Heaven."
MUTUAL LOVE IS PROOF OF MEMBERSHIP
(It is likewise the only motive we can possibly have for gathering ourselves together in Christian fellowship that will honor Jesus Christ).
1 John 3:14 - "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."
Gal. 5:6 - "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
John 13:35 - "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Gal. 5:22 -"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ...etc."
CHRIST COMMANDS UNITY IN HIS CHURCH
1 Cor. 1:10 - "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
Eph. 4:1-3 - "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
See also Romans 12:16; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 1:27; 2:2 and 3:16. These seven exhortations to be of "one mind" and to walk in unity are unfair demands unless God has enabled every Christian to obey them. Has He??? He is infinitely fair and faithful. The fact that there is division and strife among Christians today is not his fault; "God is not the author of confusion but of peace". (1 Cor. 14:33). And you remember that it was Christ who said that "a house divided against itself can not stand". (Matt. 12:25). Thank God He has provided His Spirit by which we can stand together and walk together, if we so desire. (John 7:38-39; Romans 8:9)
Obviously, if God had His way in the life of every Christian, there would be no divisions. Christians everywhere would be together, speaking the same thing, walking by the same rule, all of one mind and one judgment, without human organizations to interfere. Thus we may be sure that when we are walking "in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25), after "the new man" (Col. 3:10), we will have a desire to be one with all other believers, "to hate every false way" as did David, and to have nothing but contempt for everything that divides Christians. But the blind, the pharisaical, the ignorant and untaught, will go on blaming God for religious confusion, failing to see that it is only the selfish, proud flesh of carnal believers that gets in the way and keeps God from uniting the walk of all Christians everywhere.
WHY MANY CHRISTIANS ARE UNTAUGHT
Matt. 15:6 - "...Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition".
One of the tragedies among most Christians today is that traditions of men and "church creeds" have (actually) become more authoritative than the Bible "rightly divided". Consequently, they remain "babes in Christ", divided, untaught and soulish. How we need to study for ourselves in these "perilous times" (1 Tim. 3:1), "try the spirits" (1 John 4:1), "prove all things; hold fast that which is good". (1 Thess. 5:21). There is no single truth known in the Church today that can not become the common property of every Christian who will apply himself to study and "rightly divide the word of truth", who will take nothing for granted but weigh everything he hears by the Word of God; who will give proper heed to Paul's warning found in Col. 2:8: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men..."
NO ONE IN CHRIST'S CHURCH HAS AUTHORITY TO BE CALLED "REVEREND"
Psa. 111:9 - "Holy and Reverend is His Name". This description of majesty and power is found but once in the Bible and has reference only to God. It is never ascribed to mere man. In the Hebrew the word means: "dreadful", "terrible", "to make afraid". It is either gross ignorance or total disregard for God's revealed Word that will allow anyone to assume this title belonging only to Jehovah!
IT WAS GIVEN TO PAUL TO COMPLETE THE SCRIPTURES FOR THIS DISPENSATION
Col. 1:25 - "Whereof I (Paul) am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill (i.e. complete) the word of God".
According to this verse, the epistles of Paul contain the distinct and peculiar revelation of God for believers in this Church dispensation. Peter, James and John also wrote letters to Christians, which include many truths parallel to things Paul wrote. But none of the revelations that these (or any other writer of the Bible) received from God were any addition to Paul's so far as Body Truth is concerned. And so we may say without apology that any revelation as to how believers are to behave themselves in this Church dispensation, apart from that which is already written in the Word of God, may be marked down unequivocally as coming from the spirit of Antichrist! In other words, 2 Tim. 3:16-17 is either true or false!
Think what this verse does to our modern religious soothsayers, the Mormons, the so-called "Jehovah's Witnesses", Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism, and other heresies of less repute, all having claimed special revelation from God.
CHRIST COMMANDS HIS CHURCH TO BE SEPARATED
Romans 12:2 - "Be not conformed to this world"
Eph. 5:11 - "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (rebuke) them."
2 Cor. 6:14, 17; 7:1 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" "Wherefore come out from among them, (let's divorce ourselves from these religious yokes) and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you..." "...let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh AND SPIRIT, perfecting holiness (separation) in the fear of God."
Multitudes of professing Christians have cleansed themselves from much filthiness of the flesh (the cocktail lounge, gambling joints, the dance hall, etc.); but how few are willing to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the spirit. Filthiness of the spirit could be defined as any religious program or practice that is not called for in the Word of God for this dispensation, for "whatsoever is not of faith is sin!" (Romans 14:23. See also Romans 10:17).
The bewildering mass of man-made "churches" in the world today (Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Plymouth Brethren, the so-called "Church of Christ", etc.) are obviously not the Church which Christ is building, "for God is not the author of confusion", (1 Cor. 14:33) Nowhere do their names, their programs, their buildings, their missionary boards, their practice of "calling" and hiring preachers, their passing of the collection plate, and "church membership", appear in the Bible, nor are they essential to the maintenance and well-being of the Church which Christ is building. Therefore these religious institutions clearly come under the heading of "filthiness of the spirit", for "whatsoever is not of faith is sin". (Romans 14:23) God clearly commands us to: "Come out from among them and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing". (2 Cor. 6:17).
How many Christians have been hurtfully led to believe that the clause in 2 Cor. 6:14 - "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" is speaking of the bond of matrimony! This, however, can not possibly be the case since in the 7th chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul has already instructed the married saints not to leave their unsaved partners if the unbelieving ones choose to remain with them. (See 1 Cor. 7:12-16). Instead of speaking about marriage here, the Word of God is expressly forbidding Christians to affiliate themselves with any religious or worldly yoke that will bind them to unbelievers.
NO COUNTERFEITS IN CHRIST'S CHURCH
In the one true Church there are no counterfeits, no hypocrites, for God looks on the heart (Jer. 17:10). Every member in it is saved now (1 Cor. 1:18), he is complete in Christ (Col. 2:10) and was baptized into Jesus Christ the very instant he believed "the record of God's Son" (Acts 10:44; 2 Cor. 12:13; 1 John 5:13; Eph. 1:6).
One Pastor recently wrote me saying that "Apart from the new birth, no requirement is laid down to fellowship with our people". This is a common mistake. God has instructed us to "mark them which walk"! Being "born again" is not sufficient grounds for fellowship according to the following references: 1 John 1:7; Romans 15:16-17; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15.
But assuming for the moment that "the new birth" is a sufficient Biblical requirement for fellowship, what minister can determine with absolute finality who has experienced the "new birth"? Who can discover every counterfeit in any group of professing Christians? Do you suppose the eleven Apostles guessed that Judas was an enemy of Christ? Not according to the record. How then can this pastor demand the "new birth" as a requisite for accepting candidates into his man-made "church" which numbers far more than eleven?
Since Christ alone can with absolute certainty discern the hypocrite, the insincere, "the wolf in sheep's clothing", there is but one safe course to pursue and that is to recognize and preach only what God is building - "the Church which is Christ's body" (Eph. 1:22-23). None but saved people are in this Church for "the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His". (2 Tim. 2:19).
MANY TOWNS BUT ONE CHURCH
The fact that Paul's letters were addressed to various churches throughout the Roman Empire is often used to explain why there are Methodists, Baptists, Brethren, Fundamentalists, and some four hundred other Protestant sects.
It is true that two of Paul's epistles were addressed to the church in Thessalonica, one to the Church in Philippi, another to the church in Ephesus, etc. But please note that Paul addressed these Churches according to their GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS; he did not address churches that were different from each other. The church of Thessalonica was made up of every believer in Thessalonica, and every spiritual Christian there was the same as every spiritual Christian in Rome or in Philippi. There was no such thing as a "local" organization, for the assemblies of Thessalonica, Rome, Philippi, Ephesus, Galatia, etc., were one and the same spiritual Organism - visible and united-that recognized but one name only, the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Col. 3:17).
There is but one recorded exception to this fact. In the city of Corinth, the Christians began to use different names to tell themselves apart. Some called themselves by Apollos, others by Paul, still others by Cephas, and some after Christ. But God had the Apostle Paul write to them and point out that they were CARNAL and walked as men, and to severely rebuke them for such division:
"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ."
"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
"FOR YE ARE YET CARNAL: for whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
"For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" 1 Cor. 3:1 -4.
MODERN "CORINTHIANS" ARE ALSO REBUKED
The Corinthian saints in Paul's time are akin to the so-called "Fundamental denominations" today, who admit that all Christians are spiritually one in Christ but say that it is impossible for all of us to see alike when it comes to the walk of the believer.
Before going to the cross, you remember, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father that believers might be ONE as He and the Father were one, "that the world may believe". (John 17:21) But these denominations have visibly demonstrated their convictions (and their carnality) on the subject of unity by walking (as did the Corinthian saints) in different directions, divided, contentious and unscriptural in their man-invented names and programs. Thus proving to an already bewildered and confused world that the Bible may be something that's all right to talk about but it does little to change people's lives, so far as drawing them together in a unity of mind and spirit.
ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE CAN ORGANIZE THEMSELVES AND INCREASE MEMBERSHIP, COLLECT DUES OR PASS THE PLATE, BUILD BUILDINGS AND SEND OUT MISSIONARIES, ERECT SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS, AND DO A LOT OF TALKING - the Roman Catholics, I the Mormons, the Seventh Day Adventists, the independent Fundamental Churches of America, and others, have clearly proven this. BUT TO BE TOGETHER, to be of one mind, one judgment and speak the same things, to have no divisions among us as to our walk, to "keep the, unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace", and to "walk by the same rule", all without mechanical props or human organization (AS IT WAS IN THE FIRST 30 YEARS OF THE CHURCH WHEN THE ENTIRE WORLD WAS REACHED WITH THE GOSPEL - Col. 1:23) - that takes more than human wisdom! Only God can accomplish this otherwise impossible task through the power and Spirit of His spoken Word, as it is written, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts". (Zech. 4:6), Worldly fashioned religious institutions are only walls
and barriers to divide and separate professing Christians from one another (Methodists from the Baptists, Presbyterians from the Congregationalists, Fundamentalists from Pentecostalists, etc.), while the lack of preaching on the walk of the believer, and a "rightly dividing" of the Word of Truth, has contributed to an ignorance of God's Word among Christians that is appalling.
What is the remedy? We who are saved ought to be content with God's program and let go of the ecclesiastical machinery around us. If we don't already know what God's program is by this time, let's get down and honestly "study to show ourselves approved unto God" and let the Bible rightly divided be our sole guide for faith and practice. If we do this because we love Jesus Christ and His Word more than we respect the shallow and contradicting opinions of men and women, and because we truly want to please Him who bought us with His blood, then it will not be long before we will realize that we have no need of anything that men can religiously build or invent. And we will say with the Apostle Paul, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". (Phil. 4:13).
ELDERS AND DEACONS
Elders and deacons will be recognized by spirit-taught Christians only by the qualifications given in 1 Tim. 3:1-13:
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of [?] a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, nor covetous; One that ruleth his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God.) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a [?] deacon , being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a [?] deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.",
and Titus 1:5-9:
"For this cause lest I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
A Christian that does not meet these God-given conditions simply does not qualify for the office [?]. It is not a question of being elected or selected by anyone.
Titus was told to "ordain elders in every city" (Titus 1:5). To do this, Titus needed only to point out those men whose lives and homes proved that they were already God's chosen and qualified elders. -1 Cor. 12:18; Acts 20:28.
God has also given gifts to the church: "evangelists, pastors and teachers". These are men whom God (not men) has called, trained and qualified. No place in the Church Epistles do we find an instance where such men were "given a call" and "hired" by a local congregation, for such gifts were not given to one Christian assembly, or to two or three of them, but they were given to the entire Church - "to all who are in Christ Jesus...called Saints". (1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 3:7-11).
Because we have been told as Christians to "come out from among them" (the religious systems of this world) and be separate, we are not excused from meeting with one another whenever possible. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another". (Gal. 5:13).
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching!" - Heb. 10:24-25.
In assembling ourselves together, we should obey another command found in Col. 3:17, and that is to meet together in no other name but "the name of the Lord Jesus". "For whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him". No one earnestly desiring to obey this last command will affiliate himself with any group of people who have taken to themselves, or recognize, any term that will tell them apart from other Christians, whether that term be the so-called "Church of God" or the so-called "Church of Christ", or Methodist or Baptist or otherwise.
THE BODY OF CHRIST MAY BE IDENTIFIED BY MANY DESCRIPTIVE TITLES
BUT WE MAY TAKE NO ONE OF THEM1. "Saints" -Tim. 5:10; Acts 26:10; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 13:13.
2. "The Church"-Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18.
3. "Church of God" -I Tim. 3:5, 15; 1 Cor. 15:9; 2 Cor. 1:1.
4. "Christians" - Acts 11:26.
5. "The household of God" -Eph. 2:19.
6. "The Churches of Christ" -Romans 16:16.
7. "A holy temple" -Eph. 2:21.
8. "The body of Christ" - 1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 1:22; Col.
9. 1:18. .
"Brethren" -Matt. 23:9; 1 Cor. 1:10; Romans 8:29.
10. "The house of God" -1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 10:21.
11. "Children of God" -1 John 3:1; Rom. 8:16; John 1:12.
12. "The sons of God" -1 John 3:1; Romans 8:14.
The word HERESY is derived from the same Greek form as the word "sect" (or, "sectarianism"), which means: "preference - choice". In the King James Translation, the word "sect" in Acts 24:5 is rendered "heresy" in
4 the 14th verse of the same chapter.
Now let us read Gal. 5:19-21 together and note the vile works of the flesh "for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience" (Col. 3:5-6). "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery,
fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, HERESIES, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like..."
For any Christian to select one descriptive title, such as "Brethren", "Church of God", "Church of Christ", etc., or any man-made name, such as Methodist, Baptist, Fundamentalist- names which will of course tell him apart from other Christians- to do this is HERESY, a transgression that God has listed alongside of adultery, idolatry, murder, drunkenness, etc. Most Christians would be horrified if they knew that one of their neighbors was deliberately planning to murder somebody, and yet they themselves can openly walk in heresy and think nothing of it, though it is as criminal in the sight of God as murder. While both of these sins have social consequences that are vastly distant from each- for murder is scandalous, but sectarianism is highly recommended - both are the awful works of the flesh, and sin is sin no matter where you find it. Oh, may God help us to be willing as Christians to own and confess every title which Scripturally identifies us with our Lord. Let's not be selective, "choosey"; let's not call ourselves by one of them and prove that we're sectarian. God calls it sin!
Skeptics, infidels, atheists and agnostics poke fun at the legion of names around us now, but they cannot deny the visible manifestation of spiritual "fruit" which is to be seen in the life of all who are "working out" their salvation "with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure". (Phil. 2:12-13). Why shouldn't we be satisfied to let this inner power alone, working in us, tell an unbelieving world that we are Christians?
Choice of names divide and separate brethren from one another. But worse than that, they shamefully divert attention from that Name which is above every other name - the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is certain that the more jealous we are for His glorious and ALL-SUFFICIENT Name, the less we will stubbornly and unscripturally contend for any other.
THE NAME OF THE LORD VERSUS THE NAMES OF BABYLON!
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do ALL in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." - Col. 3:17.
"The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that bath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the CHAFF to the WHEAT? saith the Lord."
(Includes Man's Religious Systems Such As)
Seventh Day Adventism
"Grace Gospel Fellowship"
Pentecostal sects Methodist sects
Fundamentalist sects Congregationalism
"The Evangelical Church"
"The United Brethren" "The Plymouth Brethren"
Roman Catholicism "Christian Science" "Churches of God" - so-called
"Church of Christ" - so-called
Watchtower Witnesses Missionary Baptist Dunkard
New Apostolic Church Friends or Quakers
Etc., Etc., Etc., Etc
WHY THE NAME OF THE LORD IS SUFFICIENT
1. The Name of the Lord alone made our salvation possible - Acts 4:12.
2. The Name of the Lord alone is excellent-Psa. 148:13.
3. The Name of the Lord alone is worthy to be praised - Psa. 145:13.
4. The Name of the Lord alone satisfies the deepest longings of the soul - Psa. 107:8,9.
5. The Name of the Lord alone is above godly rebuke - Phil. 2:9-11.
6. The Name of the Lord alone will cause Satan to persecute us. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall (not might) suffer persecution". 2 Tim. 3:12. See also John 15:18-21; 5:43.
7. The Name of the Lord alone has power to unite all humble believers while separating the walk of the saved from the unsaved. 1 Cor. 1:10; Matt. 10:34. Sectarian names, on the other hand, divide carnal Christians but unionize the walk of the saved and unsaved. God commands: "Be not unequally yoked together"-2 Cor. 6:14.
8. The Name of the Lord alone is pointed to by every earnest Christian worker when a soul is in the balance. No other name gets the job done. Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 10:43.
9. The Name of the Lord alone gives us victory over Satan under any and every temptation and adversity. Psa. 44:5; 1 Peter 5:7.
10. The Name of the Lord alone makes it possible for us to individually or collectively win as many souls to Christ as He would have us win. Phil. 4:13. No other Name has been used of God to advance His program in this or any other age.
11. The Name of the Lord alone will endure - Psa. 72:17. "Perilous times", "false teachers", "the rulers of the darkness of this world", "deceitful workers", war, famine, earthquake, revolution, Fascism, Communism nor any other force is able to prevail against the Name of the Lord. See Matt. 18:18; Heb. 8:1; 13:8. Denominational programs (Rome and her harlot daughters - Rev. 17:5) have already suffered many set-backs and defeats. But in God's own time the "stone cut out of the mountain without hands", whose Name is "the Branch" shall "burn them up", "for, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch" Mal• 4:1; 2 Thess. 1:7. But the name of the Lord will endure forever.
12. Strictly speaking, we have but one family name, not two.- A woman with any self respect will not take a stranger's name in addition to the one her husband has given her His name is altogether sufficient. She can keep house raise their children, wash dishes, run errands, obey he husband, and do everything he would have her do in hi: name. There is no stress or strain about it; using he husband's name for all that she does as his wife is natural and right. Any other name would only complicate matters raise a lot of questions, and cause friends and neighbor to doubt her integrity.
The Word of God clearly indicates that as to our vita union down here on earth, every Christian is married t Christ. (See Eph. 5:30; Romans 7:4 and 2 Cor. 11:2). A those who are thus related to Jesus Christ, we have r tight to take any other name but His, so far as our spiritual life is concerned. We Christians can do all our Lo; would have us to do IN HIS NAME, as surely as a faithful wife can do all her husband would have her do in h name.
13. The Name of the Lord alone comforts departing saints, and causes those who are left behind to look confidently beyond this life to the great reunion of God's redeemed. 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Titus 2:13.
Yes, THE NAME OF THE LORD ALONE IS ALL-SUFFICIENT FOR ALL OUR NEEDS FOR ALL OCCASIONS!! Think how poor the Christian is who fails to recognize this glorious fact. Without this vitamin of truth he is destined to remain stunted, carnal and "unskillful in the Word of righteousness". (Heb. 5:12-14; Phil. 3:8-14; Col. 2 and 3; 1 Cor. 3:1-9, 21-23; 1 Cor. 1:30-31.)
"YE ARE COMPLETE IN CHRIST"
When lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin and SIN when —it is finished- bringeth forth death. And "IT IS FINISHED" Jesus said (on the cross) as He bowed His head and gave up the ghost. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures saying "My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?" God, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity, spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all—made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, His soul an offering for sin. God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Hint might be saved for the wages of sin is death and all have sinned; all have come short of the glory of God ; all we like sheep have gone astray, but Christ His Own Self bare our SINS in His own hotly on the tree thus taking away the SINS of t he world. God hath set Hint forth to be a propitiation for one sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make an atonement for your souls for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul," God says. "This is My blood which is shed for many" for "without the shedding of blood is no remission." "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins so Christ, not by the blood of bulls and of goats, but by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for us—the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, Lord, who loved us and washed us from our sins in His Own Blood, and now says "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart loan believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . . If ye believe not that I ant He ye shall die in your SINS. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord
shall be saved.
(Reprint of a testimony that has proven a blessing to many, first published in a 1942 edition of "Sound Words".)
Immediately after cutting the last sectarian string that had bound me to literally thousands of "Fundamentalist friends" I became keenly aware of "the scandal of the cross," but blessed be God, I was comforted by the ever present Comforter. And it was while riding a bus away from the last sectarian convention I ever attended as a fellow-member that the following words came to me. Amidst almost blinding tears of disappointment at the unexpected "cold shoulders" and rejection that my plea for unity had caused, I jotted down some of the deep yearnings of my heart. That was over fifteen years ago and some of my prayerful requests are being very definitely answered. God grant that my musings on that bus may be a blessing to some other lover of Christ who has a lonely heart (humanly speaking) because of having shown more loyalty to Christ than to Christendom. Here they are:
POORER YET RICHER
I've less to lean on, Lord, today
Than e'er I've had - less of clay.
I'm lonelier, Lord, than e'er I've been,
With less of friendship - less of men.
I'm weaker, Lord, with some alarm.
My strength is going - the strength of arm.
But, with less of clay, men, friends, and might,
I have more of Thee, more joy, more light.
Lord, let me suffer, so much I need
To mortally wound my pride and greed.
I long to know, Thou Saviour, Dear,
Thy lonely path; Thy way so drear.
I want to feel with flesh laid bare
The taunts and jeers Thou sufferedst there.
O may I know this proud world's scorn
Till celestial yearnings in me are born!
Detach me, Lord, I fain would be
Closer drawn and joined to Thee.
Allow no comforts, friends nor fame
To lessen the beauty of Thy Dear Name.
If earth-born ties too taut have grown,
Break them, Lord I'm Thine alone.
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