|Vol. 13 No. 8 August 2011||
What does the future hold in store for the Lord’s church? This is a question on many of our minds. We are in the midst of an “identity crisis,” and some are working toward a complete makeover that would alter our identity altogether and fashion us after the denominational mold.
Our future as a body of believers will surely be determined by whether we choose to march to the cadence of modern culture, or to Jesus the Christ. Who will we follow; whose side are we on in this present-day battle between good and evil, light and darkness, right and wrong? You and I must have the realization that when we are “in step” with the world, we are “out of step” with Jesus. God is unwilling to share our affection with the world: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). The Lord’s brother also wrote through inspiration of the Spirit, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
There are “terrorists” (messengers of Satan) on board and seeking to hijack the “ship of Zion” just as terrorists were on board United flight 93 on September 11, 2001. That day is permanently etched into our national psyche. The terrorists’ objective was to hijack the plane and bring death and destruction to as many as possible. Similarly, change agents are seeking to wrest control from the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ. If Satan is successful in working through these modern-day change agents, Satan will bring spiritual death and destruction to countless men, women and young people, making the destruction of 9/11 pale by comparison.
In part, we are facing problems because some (who should know) apparently do not know from whence we have come. We must know our “point of origin” to have a proper frame of reference. The church of our Lord does not have its roots in the American Restoration Movement as certain deceivers have indicated in the national media, nor is our founder a man originally from Ireland by the name of Alexander Campbell, who came to North America September 29, 1809. The church, rather, has its roots in Old Testament prophecy and is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christ did not promise to build a denomination among denominations. He simply declared His purpose to build His church in view of the Heavenly Father’s will. Christ is both the Founder and the “chief corner stone” of His church. The preposition “of” in the designation “church of Christ” is one that denotes ownership. So we read, “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). The name by which we are called and known surely does matter. It is not sectarian to be a member of the church of Christ, having been added thereunto by the Lord (Acts 2:47). We are no more sectarian than were the disciples of the first century. Those who are not content with the doctrine of Christ and His church are truly the ones who are responsible for sectarianism.
Men such as Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell and a host of others were working under the objective during the 19th century to draw men out of denominationalism or sectarianism as they sought to get men to return to Jesus Christ and the “Ancient Order” of Christianity as directed by the Holy Scriptures.
Quite in contrast to such men, modern change agents masquerade as proponents of Restoration ideals like Christian unity, for instance, while they actually divide the brotherhood and work to lead God’s sheep to turn to denominational doctrines and practices. If true Restoration leaders were living in our presence today, there is no reason to believe they would condone the activities of these change agents. The Restoration leaders sought to lead men out of the fog that had befallen the religious world by the apostasy of Romanism. Why do modern change agents want to lead precious souls back into the spiritual darkness and fog of the late 18th and 19th century? One cannot embrace heresy and be a genuine advocate of Christian unity. “Heresy” is defined in Vine’s Expository Dictionary as “that which is chosen, and hence, an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects; such erroneous opinions are frequently the outcome of personal preference or the prospect of advantage.” Please go back and reread that definition. The Satanic plan for “Christian” unity has been formulated thusly: “You allow us to believe and practice whatever we want, and we will give you the same liberty; we will agree to disagree; we will go along to get along. I won’t judge you in your (unscriptural) doctrines and practices, if you won’t judge me.” Such a pact is quite reminiscent of the deplorable spiritual condition of ancient Israel: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). We neither have the liberty to “loose what God has bound” nor to “bind what God has loosed.”
This arrangement (Satan’s strategy for “Christian” unity) stands in great contrast to the Lord’s plan for unity that is predicated upon the revealed truth from heaven being believed, loved and obeyed. The Bible knows nothing about the human doctrine of the “core gospel” with the suggestion that “believers” come together before the cross and “celebrate” what we “share in common,” i.e. the conviction of Jesus’ deity and His identity as the Savior of the world. Some would have us believe that doctrine (the doctrine of Christ and His apostles) is divisive and that the interpretation of such matters only constitutes “our opinion.” Opinions, of course, are created equal and none are any greater than others. However, the charge given the Corinthian church that “all speak the same thing” extended well beyond the common theme that “Jesus is Lord.” Heaven will only be won by those who do the Father’s will, not those who merely profess “Jesus is Lord” (Matthew 7:21). Jesus still awaits an answer from a wayward religious world, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)
For God’s children who overcome the pressure of the world as well as Satan’s deceitful devices, God will beckon us to come over and live with Him and be in His glorious presence throughout eternity. Never doubt for a moment: “Heaven will surely be worth it all.” Amen!