|Volume 21 Number 3 March 2019||
T. Pierce Brown
Recently, we again heard the argument that since our society is so diverse, with so many different kinds of persons with so many different needs, we need a variety of denominations to meet those needs. We have little doubt that some of our own members will be advancing that argument, if they have not already done so.
We admit that there are multitudes with various needs, attitudes and feelings. However, we raise the following questions: First, did not Jesus know that was also true when He built His church? There were twelve apostles, each about as different from the other as one can imagine. Why did He not tell each one of them to start a different denomination? Second, what need does anyone have that could not be met in the Lord’s church?
Let us admit that there may be congregations that are so fossilized in their traditional way of thinking and doing that they might oppose having only one song and a prayer before the lesson. It is not improper for us to examine our traditional way of doing things and strive to find a more effective way of presenting the Gospel.
Those of us who have been in other nations or cultures recognize that we may do things in various ways without the necessity of forming a denomination. If we were in a society in which there were those who were accustomed to taking their shoes off and sitting on the bare floor with crossed legs, there would be nothing unscriptural about starting a new congregation in which they did that. That is far different than advocating different denominations, different doctrines or practices in worship that are not authorized of God. There is as much authority for sitting on the bare floor as there is for sitting on a padded pew. If we could find that kind of authority for women elders, instrumental music or any of the other innovations that are being pushed by some connected with the church today, then we could properly fellowship another congregation that was doing those things, even if we did not feel comfortable with them. [However, the New Testament does not authorize female elders or instrumental music in Christian worship. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
We can properly worship with a congregation that does not have a Sunday morning Bible study as we normally have. We can worship with one where all the members drink the fruit of the vine from one container. We do not have a right to split the church about those things or to start a denomination that teaches falsehood about doing them. We need to make a distinction between the right of a person to conclude that it is best for all in the congregation to drink the fruit of the vine out of the same container and the right of that person to make that conclusion a part of the plan of salvation or to teach that one will be lost if he does not believe that. [Christians must never presume to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor] We do not need to form another church just because we do things in a different way, as long as both are scriptural. If a thing is wrong to practice, we certainly do not need to form another church to practice that [since it ought not to be practiced at all ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor].
Satan is alive and well! We see so much evidence of that being the case. Recently, three teens in Duncan, OK murdered a young baseball player who was out running. The triggerman said they killed the runner because they were “bored.” Also recently, two teens had their “fun” by killing an 88-year-old World War II veteran by beating him to death. After this last murder, I heard a news commentator say that these teens had no moral sense or structure in their lives; they had no role models and no one to teach them right and wrong. I believe he got it right.
When most of us were children, the majority of the folks around us believed in God and knew the difference between right and wrong. Not all people professed to be Christians, but they still tried to honor what is right. Today, what is honored is “what makes you feel good.” That brings me back to the point of how evil such a thought is. How could anyone “feel good” by shooting a runner for fun? How could anyone “feel good” by beating an 88-year-old man to death? It’s sick to think that someone could actually find enjoyment in doing those things.
That takes us back to the news commentator saying these teens had no moral sense or structure in their lives. No one bothered to teach them the difference between right and wrong. Our nation is in distress because no one is bothering to teach young folks respect and consideration. We need to go back to the basic “golden rule,” which teaches one to 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' (Luke 6:31). In other words, treat others with respect and dignity just as you want to be treated. Don’t hurt or injure someone in ways you don’t want to be treated yourself. We’ve always heard an old saying that “what goes around comes around.” That’s exactly right for those who do bad things to others; they will reap the reward they deserve. Unless they repent and turn to God, they actually can reap a worse sentence or judgment than they passed on someone else, for they will be consumed by an eternal fire as we read in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, 'the Lord Jesus will be revealed…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who don’t know God.'
What can be done to reverse this trend of violence and lawlessness in our nation? Knowledge of God’s Word and obeying it is the only thing that can turn people from the sickness we are witnessing in our country. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). In order for a person to want to be something besides evil, he must know and accept the difference between good and evil.
When one knows God’s laws of living, he will understand the difference between good and evil and make a choice as to which he wants to be, considering the outcome of his life. That’s what the psalmist was speaking about as he said, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10). We see from these Scriptures that knowing and fearing God and His power to reward or punish according to actions is what can and does change people for the better.
Our nation today can well take a lesson from Hosea as he said, “Hear the word of the Lord for He has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land because there is no truth, mercy or knowledge of God in the land. There is nothing but swearing, lying, killing, committing adultery…my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:1-6). Knowing and doing God’s will is the most important thing in anyone’s life, and it is all that will save a nation from destruction. God, please bless America!
[Editor’s Note: In order for God to bless a nation, that nation must turn toward God. He rejects nations that reject Him (Hosea 4:6). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]