|Volume 18 Number 8 August 2016||
Ernest S. Underwood
You remember Jeroboam. When the kingdom of Israel divided, he became king of the ten northern tribes. God promised him many wonderful things if he would only be faithful to God’s commands. However, he would have none of what God said. No sooner had he ascended the throne than he began to make changes that suited him, but which were in direct conflict with God. In 1 Kings 12, we learn of four of those changes.
1. He changed the object of worship – golden calves instead of God.
2. He changed the place of worship from Jerusalem to Bethel and Dan.
3. He changed the priesthood from the Levites to base and coarse men.
4. He changed the time of worship.
The people gladly accepted and followed each change. Of at least 14 of the 19 kings of Israel, it is stated “and he did evil in the sight of the Lord as did Jeroboam, the son of Nebat.”
Now, friend, take your New Testament and see just how many changes the religion of which you are a member has made. Does God look with better favor on these changes than He did on those of Jeroboam? Shouldn’t you and I just stay with God and His Word?
Ronald D. Reeves
A lifetime of ministerial labors has brought me face to face with the reality that congregations fail and splinter apart mainly because of internal matters other than doctrinal considerations. Yes, doctrinal concerns can cause and have caused divisions in the body of Christ. Yet, so often the root cause may be something that could have been avoided if we as brethren both knew and applied biblical principles that govern Christian relationships on a very personal level.
I have observed that the strength of congregations of the churches of Christ and that of our religious neighbors does not seem to be in identical contexts. Though exceptions exist, our congregations, at least in the past, exhibited exceptional strength doctrinally, while congregations of our religious neighbors had a greater strength in “Christian” relationships. Assuming this observation to be true, this may partially account for the growth patterns that have been observed and measured in recent years for churches in America. The question that draws my attention is this, “Do members of the body of Christ have a biblical obligation to be pure in doctrinal teaching and to also recognize an equal biblical mandate to faithfully govern our Christian relationships with the same biblical standard?” Can either directive be forfeited by the disciples of our Lord without losing divine approval?
If you were to ask this scribe to identify the responsibilities that Christians have one to another, a somewhat lengthy list could be provided. Consider the probable impact upon the body of Christ if all of the listed admonitions were to be faithfully applied by the greater part of the people of God in our personal relationships one with another, regardless of the challenges that we may face together. As space permits, here is a condensed version of some of our responsibilities to each other:
1. Not to betray one another (Matthew 24:10). 2. Have peace with one another (Mark 9:50). 3. Love one another (John 13:34-35). 4. Be members one of another (Romans 12:5). 5. Be kindly affectioned one to another (Romans 12:10). 6. In honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10). 7. Be of the same mind one toward another (Romans 12:16). 8. Not judging one another (Romans 14:13). 9. Edifying one another (Romans 14:19). 10. Receiving one another (Romans 15:7). 11. Admonishing one another (Romans 15:14). 12. Not be puffed up against one another (1 Corinthians 4:6). 13. Tarry one for another (1 Corinthians 11:33). 14. Care one for another (1 Corinthians 12:25). 15. Serve one another (Galatians 5:13). 16. Not to bite and devour one another (Galatians 5:15). 17. Not to provoke one another (Galatians 5:26). 18. Not to envy one another (Galatians 5:26). 19. Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). 20. Forbearing one another (Ephesians 4:2). 21. Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32). 22. Forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32). 23. Submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21). 24. Lie not one to another (Colossians 3:9). 25. Teaching and admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16). 26. Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18). 27. Not to hate one another (Titus 3:3). 28. Exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13). 29. Provoke unto love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). 30. Speak not evil of one another (James 4:11). 31. Grudge not against one another (James 5:9). 32. Confess one to another (James 5:16). 33. Pray for one another (James 5:16). 34. Have compassion one to another (1 Peter 3:8). 35. Be hospitable one to another (1 Peter 4:9). 36. Minister to one another (1 Peter 4:10). 37. Fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7). Would not the application of these directives go a long way in strengthening our congregations?