Vol. 12 No. 3 March 2010
Ernest S. Underwood
For the most part, we are a reasoning people. Our children are encouraged to use their reasoning ability in working out assignments in school. Even in our everyday life, we are confronted with situations in which we use our reasoning faculties. For instance, at the market are items that we want and need. One is a brand name, while the other a generic. One is more expensive than the other. We use our daily reasoning ability to determine which one would best serve our purpose. Having used our thinking processes, we make our choice.
A question: Why cannot we be a reasoning people when it comes to the Word of God? Why are there four hundred or more denominations in our country when the Word of God states that there is only one, true church? The Scriptures plainly teach that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, and that He is truly God Himself. (cf. John 1:1-3). We do realize, however, that there are some religious cults such as the Islamic religion, the Mormons and those who call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses” who deny the true deity of Jesus of Nazareth. Some believe in the so-called prophet Mahomet, while others of these groups believe that the God of the Bible was once a man and simply evolved into a god, and they follow the writings of a false prophet and a book he wrote, while another group published its own “translation” (false as it is) so that it could try to prove that Jesus was “a god” and not “the Son of God.” We have found in dealing with those of these three groups, both in this country and abroad, that they are so enamored in their cult’s false doctrine, they will neither speak with nor listen to reason. However, it is our belief that many people who are involved in denominational doctrines are there because they have been deceived, or have been taught false doctrine by one who sincerely believed such doctrine.
Can we reason together about God, about the Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the oneness of the church, proper morals, acceptable worship and a host of other things? Surely we can, but only if we agree on the standard of absolute authority, that authority being the inspired Word of God, not some man’s opinions and doctrines. If one is willing to do this and actually and really believe that the Bible is that authority, he cannot but come to a rational and biblical conclusion in his reasoning.
As we “reason together,” we must use the Bible as the final authority for any conclusion we may draw. We must “reason” about the absolute necessity of obedience to the commands of God concerning salvation. We must also reason about the all-sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as opposed to the writings of men. We must use the Bible and it alone as our polar star and guide. Will you, dear reader, use the Bible alone to reason on these vital subjects? We hope that you will.
As my wife and I with our family taught the Gospel in Tehran, Iran, we lived on the second floor of a house with the church meeting place on the ground floor. One could see for miles around from the picture windows of the kitchen on two sides.
My wife, Sylvia, drew great comfort and security, confidence and hope, looking north toward the big El Bourz Mountains. Down below, almost coming up under a balcony porch off the side of the house, a shepherd daily brought his flock of sheep to drink in a brook running past our house.
She often marveled at the gentle way he led them, talking to them and even singing. As they reached the water, he generally reclined on the bank in a position to see them all. At times, he even would sit under that balcony where he could lean against our house, keeping an eye on his sheep.
Frequently—almost always, one at a time the sheep would come to him. He would scratch their ears and around behind their ears or pat them on the head, always saying something in a soothing tone, allaying any fear or uneasiness they must have felt. A number of different sheep would come to him each day, and each would seem to have its own story or problem it confided to him.
As they were filled, he rose and slowly walked away. He did not command them to follow; he merely walked on, and they followed.
Sylvia commented to me many times about that shepherd and the sheep. She said it is no wonder the Lord chose the parables of the shepherd and his flock to illustrate and explain the work of the overseers in the church.
She saw the care and trusting relationship between that Persian shepherd and the sheep that depended on him for their protection, nourishment, leadership and care. The work of good elders today in the Lord’s church provides those same things to the flock.
[Elders or pastors or bishops lead fully organized congregations of the New Testament church (1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:17). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]