Slow Weekend…

After the jauntiness of the debate, these weekends with nothing to discuss seem pretty quiet.

So, I’d just like to remind everyone of the warm and inviting atmosphere over at the ex-church of Christ website.   Especially if you are thinking of leaving Martinsville Church of Christ, Danville Church of Christ or Reidsville Church of Christ.  

If you question the teachings of Johnny Robertson, Norm Fields or James Oldfield, much of what you’ll find there should resonate. 

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6 thoughts on “Slow Weekend…

  1. At some point we need to address the issue of “denominations”. If Christ saves people in the denominational world, we need to prove this. According to many in the CofC, nobody can be saved in a denomination.

  2. Now that I have sent one link from one Church of Christ group–I thought I would send something from another Church of Christ group.

    From a Church of Christ preacher:

    Members of the Church
    This is an unscriptural subject! The Scriptures do not speak of members of the church!

    Is that an oversight of Inspiration? Is it a translating error? Is it a matter of indifference? Am I just being picky to draw attention?

    The first use of the word “church” after its beginning on Pentecost is in Acts 2:47 in the King James Version. It says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” But the word “church” was supplied by the translators. Other versions are similar to the American Standard Version in stating, “And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.” But the ASV has a footnote on the “to them” explaining that the Greek word is “together.” THE LORD ADDED TOGETHER THE SAVED.

    To what did God add the saved? Nothing! They, by accepting Christ, became the “ekklesia,” the called out, the saved, the congregation, the assembly of God. God did not add them to an organization. The saved people do not comprise an organization. An organization has members and may be joined, or expelled from, but people do not join salvation. They are saved when they receive remission of sins like those added together on Pentecost (Acts 2:38-47). They are “joined to the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:17). That is accomplished when one is baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3). Thus the center is Christ, not an organization of people, and emphatically not a denomination. People are not baptized into the church but into Christ, though it is commonly believed that persons are baptized into a church organization.

    It is a serious misunderstanding to think a person is saved and then may join the church by meeting requirements for baptism specified by a denomination. If a person is saved, he is already included in the “ekklesia” so it becomes presumptuous to try to join the church later and establish membership.

    If belief puts one into Christ, then it would be impossible to be baptized into Christ. As a person who is already in a house cannot then enter into the house; so a person already in Christ cannot be baptized into him. If faith alone saved those on Pentecost, then they could not be baptized for the remission of sins like Peter instructed them. God has chosen faith to change the mind, repentance to change the life, and baptism to change the relationship.

    God adds together universally those whom he saves. He does not add them to the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of Christ, the Unitarian Church, or any other. The saved comprise the universal church, or congregation of God, which has no organized form. These disciples may assemble in local groups designated by location, like the church at Corinth, without distinguishing themselves from other disciples.

    Those who are saved usually join a congregation which is organized by “identifying” with it or “placing membership” in it, but the Lord does not add them to it. Some of those congregations are independent groups of disciples meeting together while others are parts of a structured denomination or sect. Any group, claiming to be a part of the whole church, which gives itself a name to distinguish itself is a denomination. To denominate means to name. Any association of congregations claiming to be the whole church, that is, “the one true church,” is a sect. God does not add believers to them but they are joined by sincerely misguided people. A person is not saved by being a member of a church but may be saved by grace in spite of it.

    For many years I correctly understood that I was added to the universal congregation of the saved. I made the claim, however, as many sincere CofC people do, that I never joined a church. I concluded, therefore, I was not a member of a denomination! True, I never joined the universal church, but I joined various organized groups in different cities that were distinguished from other organized groups. That was done after the Lord had added me to his congregation. We even had a multiplicity of choices of Churches of Christ that recognized no fellowship with each other for me to choose from. The Lord did not add us to those various Churches of Christ; we joined them. We became members of them! We identified with them We called it “placing membership” so as to avoid the idea of joining the groups. But we were fooling nobody but ourselves.

    The popular concept of church membership has fostered another subtle misdirection — that our worship and work is centered in organized religion. And that is associated with a physical building and an organized program of a group meeting there. Too easily we come to think of assignments in the assemblies as our spiritual work and the corporate worship as the extent of our worship. We can do this while giving lip-service to the concept of whole life worship and service. This church-centered concept of ministry has led many to disparage private ministry as being a form of rebellion against the congregation.

    Having been nurtured in the idea, I taught for many years that one’s good deeds should be done “in the name of, or through, the church” so Christ would receive the glory. But Jesus told disciples, not churches, to give a cup of cold water in his name. However, we as individuals do not have time and money to extend merciful aid because we have expended all our time and money supporting the burdensome system on which we have come to depend to extend the merciful aid — if there is any money left and hired personnel to do it. We cannot help because we have already “given to God” our resources like those rebuked by Jesus (See Mark 7:8-11). The monstrous organized system has eaten up our resources and pirated our ministries. Even if that be judged as an over-statement, the point still stands.

    After my wife’s recent death, I received numerous cards, notes, and loving expressions from you and also some from my insurance company and a few other social and service agencies. Do I have to tell you which were more meaningful to me? Point made! Must I argue further?

    Admitting that some worthy causes are too big for individuals without cooperation with others, we must ask if the glory goes more to the church name under which the work is done than to Christ. Are good deeds done by the organization intended to advertise the church or Christ? If they are done to advertise Christ, why do we not just do them in the name of Christ? It is hardly proper to prostitute good works to promote organized partisan religion.

    Classes are taught, seminars are conducted, and books are written instructing us as to how to make the church grow. Wonder why Paul did not write an epistle on that theme? These teachers are promoting the growth of an organization. Luke tells us how the church grows. He said the Lord added daily to the saved others that were being saved. That is the secret of church growth!

    Because we have come to depend upon the super-market for our food, most of us do not bother to try to raise any of it ourselves. Likewise, because we have come to depend upon an organized system to evangelize, our tendency is to abandon individual responsibility for evangelizing. Then we wonder why the church does not grow.

    Organized religion tries unsuccessfully to conceal its ugly underbelly of church politics — the perpetual power struggle among its leaders, both in local groups and in structured denominations…

    Now, do you agree that there is sufficient reason why “members of the church” are not mentioned in the Scriptures?

  3. From a Church of Christ preacher: When I obeyed the gospel, the Lord added me to his one church which happened to be non­instrumental, amillennial, and non-charismatic, and made use of multiple communion cups, Sunday School, women teachers, and orphanages. I never sought out such a church and did not apply for membership in it. I was just added to it, sort of automatically!

    Others obeyed the same gospel and were added by the same Lord to his one church which happened to use only one cup in the communion and deplore Sunday School and women teachers. This group dissociated itself from the one I was in. These disciples had taken no steps to join a division any more than I had.

    Still others obeyed the same gospel and were added by the same Lord to the same church which happened to use instrumental accompaniment to singing. Those people took no steps to join a sect, but remained in the church the Lord had added them to. Both of the former groups refused fellowship with this instrumental Church of Christ.

    Then there were those who obeyed the same gospel and were added by the same Lord to his one church and found themselves to be in the Christian Church instead of the Church of Christ! They joined nothing and I joined nothing, but we wound up in different dissociating groups. Surely, God moves in mysterious ways, doesn’t he?

    The truth may reveal that many other persons obeyed the same gospel and found their membership to be in groups with still other names. We are not questioning that the Lord added all these people to his one church, but somebody joined a sectarian division also. Who was it? “Not l!” we hear from each one involved.

  4. From a Church of Christ preacher:

    The Scriptural and practical solution is for us to quit judging others in Christ who hold differing views from ours and to accept them as brothers equal before the Lord. No one must compromise his convictions; all do not need to meet in the same congregation; and all do not have to believe and practice in total conformity. But all can love one another, accept each other, and work together in serving our heavenly Father.

    Division or sectarianism is not so much the meeting in separate groups as it is a judgmental spirit. Each can have his own convictions of faith between himself and the Lord (Rom. 14:22), but one fails to discern the one body when he judges his brother even while continuing to commune with him ( I Cor. 1 1:29), and thus he eats and drinks damnation to his soul. In view of our practice, that becomes very frightening.

    Some earnest disciples start new groups in an effort to be nonsectarian and non­denominational. I can appreciate that fully. But why start a new group when there are already other non­sectarian, undenominational churches in your community? Why not join one of them? “I do not agree with their doctrines and/or practices,” you reply. Then just how non­sectarian is your group if it refuses fellowship with others who make the same claim that you make? You start another denomination when you start a group which must distinguish (denominate) itself from other non­sectarian churches. If nonsectarian, non­denominational churches are truly that, why do they not all unite—including the various Church of Christ groups who make that claim? “Non­denominational” churches become “non-denominational” denominations!

    I joined the Church of Christ – in fact, several of them. The Lord added me to his church and then I joined local fragments of the universal church by my identity with them which implied that I was part of them. The Churches of Christ which I served as a career minister would be characterized generally as judgmental, exclusive, and sectarian in spirit, and many who composed them held convictions different from mine. While being a part of such a group, one may disavow what he considers to be error; cultivate an accepting, nonsectarian spirit, and seek diligently to correct those evils which make the local group sectarian and denominational. I do not know what course anyone can take that will be more remedial of our ills.

    All churches need constant reform, but only the Savior can remove the candlestick. Epistles were written to bring about correction and reform in churches, but in no epistle were disciples told to leave a misdirected church and start a pure one.

  5. From a Church of Christ preacher:

    Let us read again John 17:20-23 (NIV): “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This is the core of the larger context of his prayer.

    What was the nature of the unity and oneness that he earnestly desired? For what purpose was he laying down his life? Was it that we might all be brought to unanimity of belief in doctrines, rituals, and practices? Was it that we might all come under the umbrella of a recognizable group wearing a certain name like Church of Christ, or church of Christ? Or, was it not that all believers might be reconciled to God through him? The point of focus is God. Oneness is in him! “You are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us.” Has that relationship been established? Are the believers one in God/Christ? Every saved person is in God and Christ! We sinners are reconciled to God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:18f). Reconciliation is in one body (Eph 2:6). The body is the church (Col. 1:18). To be reconciled means that the guilt that separated us from God is remitted.

    All the saved are united in one body, one church. But that church is not a sect or denomination. Nor is it the sum of them all. It is all who are in God and Christ. None are saved because of unity in some particular group with which they align themselves but, if they are saved at all, it is because they are one with Christ and God. The center of unity is not people, but God! If every person on earth were in agreement, that would not be what Jesus prayed for unless they were all in him reconciled to God in his one body, the church.

    Since it is the Lord who adds us to his body in saving us, the creating of oneness is not our own doing, but his! It is not ours to create, but ours to recognize and respect. In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul charges us, not to create unity in the one body, but to maintain it in the bond of peace.

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