GONE WITH THE WIND

I’ve never heard of a ‘BOMB CYCLONE’ until last week. In case you missed it, the panhandle of Texas (along with other areas) experienced winds gusting over 75 mph. That kind of wind tosses a lot of things around and not a few people. Videos show roofs being blown off and semi-trucks toppling.

Let’s use this occasion of high winds to talk about the high winds of denominational doctrine. The Holy Spirit warns about this through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” [Eph 4:14]

This is brilliant imagery, especially considering last week’s winds and the damage it caused. Upon examination of this verse we come to a few conclusions

  • There is a true doctrine. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” [Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10; Heb 6:1; 2John 1:9]
  • The negative doctrines are from men. [cr doctrines of men; Rom 16:17; Col 2:22; 1Tim 1:3, 10; Heb 13:9; 2John 1:10; Rev 2:14, 15,24 and doctrines of devils 1Tim 4:1]
  • These men use sleight (tactic used in gambling)
  • These men use cunning craftiness (trickery). The same word describing Satan; “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” [2Cor 11:3]
  • These men use deceit (lies). It’s called error in 1John 4:6 “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
  • These men are lying in wait, which is also said of thieves who hide in dark places to attack an innocent. [Proverbs 1:11]
  • The persons unable to distinguish between the doctrine of Christ and the doctrines of men are children, immature.
  • The doctrines of men are varied and often opposite of one another.
  • The child caught up in the wind is tossed and carried away by the false teaching. We’re expected to mature in spiritual understanding. “Brethren, be not children in understanding:” [1Cor 14:20a]

Paul continues this thought in chapter 5: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” [Eph 5:6]. Just as the winds that tore through the panhandle, so too the winds of doctrine can tear through the church doing terrible damage. Unlike the physical damage of a wind, this is spiritual damage that tosses people into disobedience.

There is another way that wind is used for a SPIRITUAL WARNING, it’s our faith.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” [James 1:6]

James continues in this context and says that the one wavering in faith should not expect anything from God. Additionally, he calls the one with a wavering faith an unstable person. This smacks in the face of the admonition of the Christian to…

  • Stand Fast: “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” [1Thess 3:8]
  • Stand perfect & complete: “…that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” [Col 4:12]

It is my firm belief that the most damaging wind of doctrine is the utterly contemptible doctrine of ecumenism (the promoting of unity among denominations without unity of doctrine). An idea our Lord never promoted. He demands unity in His teaching. [1Cor 1:10]

THROWING OUT THE TRUTH WITH THE BATHWATER

Most of you understand the expression, “THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATHWATER” because you lived it. Back in the days of old, before the days of indoor plumbing, the family would take their baths in a large metal wash tub. After everyone was done, the last usually being the youngest, the bathwater was tossed out into the yard.

The idiom reminds us not to discard the precious as we attempt to rid ourselves of the despised.

I bring this to your attention because there is a movement among many to “toss out the bathwater” of baptism.

They’re TOSSING out the TRUTH of salvation as they seek to rid themselves of the baptismal waters. In their zeal to remove the ‘bathwater’ they have missed the simple truth about the Gospel.

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [Mat 23:24]

Those who are now working to rid the church of the ‘bathwater’ are repeating the mistakes of those in the past and tossing out the precious truth about salvation & baptism.

One fellow said that the baptism spoken of in Acts 2:38 is ‘spiritual immersion.’ What he’s done is thrown out SALVATION with the baptism water. Look at 1Peter 3:21; what is being taught?

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” [1Peter 3:21]

The Apostle Peter makes a specific reference to water when he says, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” Why would he bring up ‘the filth of the flesh’ unless saving baptism involves water? If salvation was ‘faith only’ then this addition is completely pointless. He brought it up because he was talking about WATER BAPTISM. He was teaching us not to confuse the water baptism obeyed through faith with a physical cleansing. WATER BAPTISM, submitted through faith, provides a SPIRITUAL CLEANSING.

Paul was told, “arise, and be baptized, and WASH AWAY THY SINS, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] Upon hearing the preaching of Jesus by Phillip, the Ethiopian Eunuch asked, “See, here is WATER; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] (emphasis mine, seb) These verses harmonize BECAUSE they are teaching WATER BAPTISM. They make no sense if salvation occurs BEFORE water baptism.

No one is teaching a ‘works’ salvation, for no one, submitting to the simple command of God in Christ, is able to do anything of themselves while under the water. Christ is doing the spiritual cleansing [Rev 1:5]. Christ is doing the saving [Matt 1:21]. Christ is adding to the church those that are being saved [Acts 2:47].

If you believe

  • You were saved before you were water baptized,
  • That baptism is not immersion in water,
  • That baptism doesn’t save you,
  • Were baptized in or into a denomination,
  • You were saved by being baptized as a baby,

Then you are guilty of ‘THROWING OUT THE TRUTH WITH THE BATHWATER’ and remain in your sin.

Saving Baptism in the bible is

  • Commanded by Christ, Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16
  • For the remission of sins, Acts 2:38; Mat 26:28
  • What washes away sin, Acts 22:16
  • Death to sin, Romans 6:1-4
  • A Burial, Colossians 2:12
  • Immersion in water, 1Peter 3:21; Acts 8:36
  • What saves you, by faith, 1Peter 3:21; Heb 11:7
  • Taught by Peter, Paul, & others Acts 2:38; 19:5; 22:16;
  • The Putting on of Christ, Galatians 3:27
  • AFTER Hearing, Believing, Repenting & Confessing, Mark 16:15, 16

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?

Have you ever had a question but were too afraid to ask? You’ve already been told that there are no stupid questions, so ask. If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask, ask it (privately or personally) and I’ll do my best to offer a biblical answer. Below is a sampling of questions people should be asking but aren’t…

  • Why is attendance of religious services falling around the world?
  • How do I join the local church of Christ?
    1. Variation: Do I have to identify with a local group of Christians?
  • Are all churches of Christ the same? Does it matter?
  • What is the most important aspect of our Assemblies?
  • How come the churches don’t have crosses in their buildings?
  • Can we eat in the building? How come we don’t eat in the building?
  • How come we don’t have community benevolent programs?
  • What is the work of the church?
  • Why does the evangelist get all bent out of shape when someone calls him ‘pastor?’ Or when I use “church” as an adjective?

Future articles in 2019 will be dedicated to answering, with scripture, many of these questions.

CAN WE EVEN QUESTION THE BIBLE?

Jesus was asked a bunch of questions by folks. He never rebukes us for asking, unless we’re asking to justify ourselves or refuse to be honest with the answers.

In one such encounter, the Pharisees asked Jesus about His authority, “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” [Mat 21”23]

Jesus’ reply was not a rebuke for asking, for He said He would answer them, “if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” But they refused to answer, as either possible answer would rebuke themselves. It was then that Jesus refused to answer their question, because they weren’t being honest about the truth.

In another place, the Apostle Paul went about preaching and came to some folks who took what he preached and searched for some verification. The Berean’s, “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] You see, they took the preaching of Paul and compared it to the scriptures. Oh, if more people in denominations would do that!

Paul also told the Galatians, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:8] He was ok with them verifying what he or anyone else preached. The problem was they had stopped following God’s word in favor false teaching.

He also told those in Thessalonica to, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” [1Thess 5:21].

In another place, John wrote to the saints and told them to, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” [1John 4:1]

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to ask questions. It’s OK and even encouraged to verify whatever anyone teaches or preaches.

There are just a few criteria…

  • Be honest with yourself, even if it means you may be wrong,
  • Be willing to search for the truth and
  • Be willing to accept the truth and to follow it.

We here in this local body of Christ want to know the truth and to obey the truth. We don’t mind it when someone asks questions and we often invite folks to visit with us after services to ask questions. Just be honest and be willing to accept the truth. If you’re unwilling to listen to God’s word for the answer, don’t bother asking us, because that’s the only qualified answer. The Bible is our only Guide. If you don’t want a bible answer, don’t ask any of us.

There are many false places to which people appeal for the answers to their questions….

  • False teachers – 1Tim 4:1
  • Yes men – 2Tim 4:3
  • The book of ‘opinions’ & ‘I think so’ – Mark 7:7
  • “that’s how we’ve always done it” Mark 7:8

None of these are the source of sound doctrine, and there are many more. Jesus warned the Sadducees, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29] We must be careful from where we get the answers to the questions of life and eternal life. God’s word gives us all we need for life & godliness [2Pet 1:3].

Would you like your question answered, and do you want it to be from God’s divine word? Then you’ve come to the right place. Come, let’s reason together.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” [Isaiah 1:18]

PHARISAICAL

PHARISAICAL is defined as; practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical. The term comes from the group called “Pharisees.”

The way it is most commonly used is when one person suggests a close adherence to the word of God in the Plan of Salvation, Worship and Godliness that others will claim that person is being PHARISAICAL. It’s a rebuke by someone who ISN’T closely following the Bible against the one who does.

Is that a fair use of the word? Does this usage follow with how the Pharisees were practicing Judaism? Let’s examine the Scriptures to see if this is so.

JESUS REBUKES THE PHARISEES

Matthew 23 is a great place to learn what Jesus felt about the Pharisees. The first 12 verses He describes their practices to the multitudes. He says:

  • Do what they say, not what they do. v3
  • They bind heavy burdens on others that they won’t do. v4
  • They do what they do to be seen by men. v5
  • They love the best seats & greetings. v6-7

After this, He then addresses them directly with a series of “WOE UNTO YOU” statements some of which are:

  • You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men and you don’t enter either. v13
  • For a pretense make long prayers. v14
  • Neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy & faith. v23
  • You appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. v28

Upon examination of these verses and others, the conclusion you MUST come to is that the Pharisees were:

  • Ignoring the commands of God for their traditions.
  • Saying one thing correctly but not doing it. This is called hypocrisy.
  • When they did keep the commands of God, their heart wasn’t in it. Mat 23:23
  • They bound EXTRA commands on people that God never commanded.
  • Mat 7:21-23

“For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” [Mark 7:8-9]

SO, WHAT IS PHARISAICAL REALLY?

To be ‘PHARISAICAL’ is to:

  • Not follow the commands of God
  • To create new commands not from God
  • To say that you’re following God but aren’t.
  • To hold to traditions rather than the commands of God.
  • To appear to be righteous but are actually disobedient.

If anyone in our modern times is ‘PHARISAICAL’ it’s most likely to be the denominational churches and not the Lord’s church. Can we be guilty of hypocrisy? Certainly, but to call someone who is keeping the commands of God with his whole heart, ‘PHARISAICAL,’ is to make a false accusation. It’s usually the one who ISN’T KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS that calls another ‘PHARISAICAL.’ If you’re not following the commands of Christ, YOU ARE THE PHARISEE! It is NOT PHARISAICAL to want to keep the commands of God. [Col 3:17]

Rather than call each other names, let’s try this:

  • Let’s Keep the commands of Jesus – John 14:15
  • Let’s Do what Jesus says – Luke 6:46; Mat 7:21-29
  • Let’s Love God with our whole heart – Mat 22:37
  • Let’s Obey the Gospel – 2Thess 1:8; Mark 16:16

God wants us to be saved and to go to heaven. Let’s do that.

The Last Day

When is the Last Day, the rapture or the Judgment day? Many ‘scholars’ have attempted to figure it out. They’ve combed the scriptures looking for clues. They’ve taken dates and times, done the math and have come up with what they believe is the last day.

I recall a fellow who claimed May 21, 2011 would be the end of the earth, the final call, the return of Christ. Either I missed it, or he was wrong. The bible says we’re not going to miss it, it will be the loudest day on earth.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” [1Thess 4:16]

Based on this verse alone, I’d say we didn’t miss it, it hasn’t occurred. There have been others who thought they had predicted the end.

Jehovah’s Witnesses – Charles Taze Russell preached the Second Coming of Jesus was 1874, and the start of the 1000 year earthly reign was 1914, as it was to end in 2914 A.D. When it didn’t happen, they just altered their teaching and set new dates saying something like, “”The light is getting brighter, and we are understanding Bible prophecy better now.”

John Hagee – He has been predicting the end for several years now. Looking at blood moons & eclipses as possible signs. Rather than set a date, he says, “the fuse is lit.”

There’s nothing new about this. The first century Christians wondered about this as well. Paul wrote to the brethren in Thessalonica, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” [2Thess 2:2] He instructed them how they ought to behave as they awaited, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” [2Thess 2:15]

None of us can know when the judgment will occur, only God, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” [Mat 24:36].

Putting this all together we come to some very simple conclusions that will guide us…

  • Don’t believe the predictions. (and don’t follow those who are making such predictions. They’re false teachers. [Matt 24:11; 1John 4:1]
  • Live every day as if Christ is coming today.

Since we know that when He comes, destruction of the world will follow, we ought to “make our calling and election sure” today and every day. [2Pet 1:10]

Peter, writing through the Holy Spirit said; “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” [2Pet 3:11-12]

Don’t take my word for it, just do what Jesus said, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” [Matt 24:42]

“You guys think you’re the only ones going to heaven.”

Has anyone ever challenged you with this statement after telling them to which church you belong? Did you know what to say?

Before we offer an answer to this accusation, we need to identify it for what it is; it’s an intellectually dishonest accusation based upon an unstudied position. It’s emotionally charged based on another similar question; “will God actually send good people to hell?”

Here’s another way of stating these charges; “do you mean to tell me that God is going to send people to hell who disregard His authority and choose not to follow the whole counsel of God?”

When stated this way, you can begin to see the answer to their claims.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

Most, if not all, attacks come from a position of partial understanding of God’s word. The real answer to most attacks should be “who has all authority, and how do we know what it is?” when faced with an emotionally charged criticism, I ask this question; “What does the bible say?

Jesus has “all authority” [Mat 28:18], and He alone has the right to determine under what conditions salvation is determined. He said that judgment will be based upon the standard of God’s word [John 12:48] and if this is true, are we to teach it accurately? Do any of us have the right to teach less or to add more to His word? Certainly not!

If the bible teaches that only those who have been added to the Lord’s church are saved [Acts 2:47], then to teach otherwise is to be a false teacher. To belong to a church not mentioned in the Bible is to disregard God’s word, the word upon which the determination of saved or lost is made.

The Lord’s church.
  • Jesus said; “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18] He could have built 1,000 churchES, but He only promised to build ONE.
  • Jesus purchased ONE church; “… the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]
  • Jesus is the head of His church; “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,” [Eph 1:22-23]
  • Jesus will save His body; “…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” [Eph 5:23b]

How many bodies (churches) did He build, purchase, is the head of and is the savior of? We read about followers of Christ assembling in local congregations called ‘churches of Christ.’ [Rom 16:16] These are not different denominations teaching different doctrines. These are adherents to God’s word assembling as commanded in their home towns.

Some argue that there are many members of that one body in all the denominations. Can that even make sense? Don’t forget about the word that judges us in the last day. Denominations teach different things about salvation, sin, worship, faith, apostacy etc. Some teach & bind MORE than what the bible teaches on these subjects. Can we be a part of a denomination that adds to or takes away from God’s word and say you’re following the whole counsel of God? When we examine the scriptures, we find the expectation that the same thing be taught to every person. [1Cor 1:10-14]

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” [1Cor 4:17]

A word of caution; not every person who attends a “church of Christ” belongs to Him. There are some who are in unrepented sin or practicing error. Revelation 2 & 3 also teaches that entire congregations have left their first love, hold the doctrine of Balaam, allow false teachers in, are spiritually dead, and are lukewarm. Jesus said to one congregation, “for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Rev 3:2]. They were not completely following God’s word!

If those who are in the Lord’s church are in jeopardy for not following His will, what makes you think He’s going to overlook denominational error?!

TAKE A PICTURE

The Reverend Jefferson Davis Tant, duly ordained in the Methodist ministry, became a circuit-rider in North Texas in the year 1880. His work as a Methodist minister was destined to be a short one. In 1881, he moved to Buda, Texas, where in August of that year, he heard W. H. D. Carrington, a minister of the Church of Christ, preach the gospel. He liked what he learned. In those days, the church was often referred to as “Campbellites.” The meeting ran from two weeks to a month. Tant decided to go back and hear what the “Campbellite” preacher had to say further. Carrington took the Bible, read the passages and explained them clearly, especially the verses that told what one must do to be a Christian or to be saved.

On August 14, 1881, Tant came forward in Carrington’s meeting and gave the preacher his hand. He was openly weeping as he did so, weeping from fear and from gratitude.

J.D. Tant preached all over the nation [abandoning the term reverend]. Gospel preachers were few and far between. He was in great demand, ordinarily receiving more than 200 invitations per year for gospel meetings and debates. His record was 269 invitations in a single year. Obviously, he could not hold more than 20 or 25 of these, since most of them were of two weeks’ duration.

The following account is from the book about his life; “TEXAS PREACHER.”

J.D. Tant’s last debate with Ben M. Bogard (his eighth) was in the Lone Star community about eight miles east of Greenwood, Arkansas, in the fall of 1937.

The proposition being discussed was that baptism of a penitent believer is (or in order to) the remission of past sins. In one of Bogard’s speeches of denial he took up his entire thirty minutes trying to prove that there are two figures (pictures) contemplated in 1Peter 3:21. Insisting that Noah and his family were saved by faith, and then pictured their salvation in the water of the flood, he declared that we are first saved by faith, and then picture that salvation by baptism. He dwelt at length on the fact that one could not have a picture of a thing or a person without first having the substance of the thing or person. He told of having a picture of his mother, and how highly he prized the picture; but he could not have had the picture unless he had first had the mother! His Baptist brethren seemed elated with this argument and felt that it was unanswerable.

Tant got to his feet and replied, “My good friends, remember that baptism is just a ‘picture’. Ben Bogard says it is, and since Ben seems to be the big ‘It’ among Baptists, that makes it so. Now, Ben, says baptism is a ‘picture’. That does not help Baptist doctrine at all; for it was Jesus Christ himself who said in Mark 16:16, ‘He that believeth and gets his picture taken shall be saved’.

And when those wicked people on Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they had to do, Peter replied, ‘Repent ye, and get your picture taken, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’

And when Ananias came to Saul of Tarsus there in Damascus, he said unto him as recorded in Acts 22:16, ‘And now why tarriest thou? Arise and get your picture taken, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord’.

So, you can see, Ben, you, too, will have to get your picture taken or you can never be saved!”

There was a roar of laughter from the audience, and Bogard was obviously discomfited as his bit of sophistry was thus handed back to him.

Confessing Jesus

Cherry picking is the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. The practice of cherry-picking overlooks or even suppresses evidence that would lead to a different conclusion.

The term comes from the process of harvesting fruit. A picker (such as for cherries) would select only the best-looking fruit while overlooking or wrongly concluding that the remaining fruit is not yet ripe or of a poor quality.

It is one of many logical fallacies. When people cite anecdotal evidence, they tend to overlook large amounts of additional data. Selective gathering of evidence to support a personal opinion is misleading and incredibly damaging.

We all know that religious orders cherry-pick the scriptures to prove faith only.

One such example is…

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 10:32]

Before we go on, you need to know that this article is not going to undo this passage. I hope you believe it and obey it. What we will do is ask the question, is this all that is said about confessing Jesus?

Another thing, those who cite this passage don’t actually define it biblically. They use it in a faith only sort of way. Note that the passage said, “before men.” Confessing Jesus is not a private affair, no sir, it’s a very public and ongoing activity. The implication is this, if you stop confessing Jesus before men, your eternal destiny is in jeopardy. Notice what was said about certain believers in Jesus…

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:” [John 12:42]

Another passage cited by believers only folks is Romans 10:9; “because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:” This proof text is then driven home with verse 13: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” They may even include Acts 2:21 which says the same thing.

That’s where they stop. They’ll go on to make some grand point about Christs love (He does love you) and how salvation happens at your Lazboy when you begin believing.

This is cherry-picking, for they willfully or ignorantly overlook passages that changes the picture completely. You see, the audience of Acts 2 went on to ask, “what must we do?” They were told, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” [2:38]

Saul of Tarsus, when He believed in a risen Jesus, was told what he must do. Ananias came to him and said…“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.” [Acts 22:16].

Did you see what happened? When we gathered more information (picked all the fruit) we find out when calling on His name occurs. When we are baptized (buried in water) we are calling on the name of the Lord.

Some would argue, “if someone accepts Christ as their Savior but dies before the baptistry they are saved.” No. Look again at the evidence. No one has accepted Christ as their Savior until they have obeyed His gospel which includes baptism into Christ for the remission of sins. [Gal 3:27; Rom 6:1-4; 1Peter 3:21]

Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, Be Baptized and continue to live a life of continual confession of Christ with godly behavior. [Acts 2:42; Rev 3:10]

The Beverage Station church

 

We’re all familiar with the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ found at many eateries. The self-service place one pours their own drink. A beverage station is nothing more than a place to get a version of WATER.

Jesus said to the woman at the well, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” [John 4:10]

Jesus is the provider of ‘living water.’ Unfortunately, many find His water unpotable, that’s where the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ comes into play.

For some, they need a little flavor in their water, so to the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ they go to get tea, coffee or some lemons to ADD a little flavor to their water. Others want a version of water from a major company, these choose Coke, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper (and lines are drawn as to which is better).

Still others don’t like any of these flavored waters but despise the taste of regular water. These folks go to the ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ for the filtered water, to TAKE AWAY what they don’t like about the water.

The ‘BEVERAGE STATION’ is just a simple way to illustrate denominationalism. These divisions are nothing more than folks adding to the WORD of God or removing from the word so that the WORD is more palatable to one’s personal tastes. [cr. Deut 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18-19]

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

[1Corinthians 1:10]

The Strange Church

There’s a bittersweet scene in Ezra chapter 3 during the time when the exiles, returning from 70 years of captivity, were rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

As they laid the foundation, all the younger folks, “…praised the Lord, because the foundation was laid.” But the older ones, the ones who had seen the first temple built by Solomon, “wept with a loud voice.” [Ezra 3:12; cf. Haggai 2:3]

Why such a disparity in the reaction between the two groups? It is the answer to this question about which I want to speak.

The reason for the weeping was that the older one’s could still remember how beautiful the first temple had been. They could remember the gold plating, the cedar paneling, the incredible beauty. The younger ones had no point of reference, therefore they rejoiced while the others wept.

POINT OF REFERENCE

The religious world is suffering from this same thing today. Many religious, churchgoing folks are looking for a church based upon their social programs, entertainment and food options. Why? It would be easy to just say that their stomachs have become their gods.

“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” [Philippians 3:19]

You would be mostly right. But let me suggest that another part of the reason this is so is since people have been separated from the truth about a sound church for so long they don’t even recognize one when they see it. There are some who have never even heard the truth on certain matters. They’ve never seen a sound church.

You may think I’m referring to denominationalism, but no sir. I’m speaking about the Lord’s church. The Lord’s body is suffering from this failure in having a sound POINT OF REFERENCE.

It is certainly true that denominations have ruined the truth about worship and the work of the church, Paul called it a perversion, and therefore many people of the world only think of the church as a benevolence or social welfare institution. They don’t even consider the church as a teaching organization.

The Strange Church

There was a time when Christians were thought of as strange. Peter said, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” [1Peter 4:4]. He also said that members of the Lord’s body were, “a peculiar people” [1Peter 2:9].

Many of our ‘denominational’ minded brethren have never heard the truth on subjects like, institutionalism or the errors of the social gospel. Instead they’re rejoicing that they have ‘youth pastors’ & ‘children’s church’ and many other such perversions of the Gospel.

I know this to be true because I’ve asked of their members, “Do you know why we’re separate from you?” To a person they say no! One person was super excited to tell me the news that they found a ‘youth minister.’ I asked, “what is that, aren’t the biblical youth ministers the older people of the congregation?” [Titus 2:4] Yes, they think it strange.

Think about this; it was the strangeness of Christ that drew people to Him and His church. Strange in that He taught the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. [John 17:17]

He didn’t give His life on a cross to bring about an earthly kingdom and earthly bliss [Mat 10:34]. No Sir! He died to bring reconciliation between mankind and God. [1John 2:2]. This is not to say that joy cannot be found, it’s just not the work (responsibility) of the Lord’s church. Peace & Joy are blessings for people who, having put on Christ in baptism, are in Christ [Ephesians 1:3].

The Lord’s church is a teaching organization [1Timothy 3:15]. We are to reach out to the spiritually lost of this world with the Gospel message and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then we are to teach these Christians “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” [Matthew 28:18-20]

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” [Romans 14:17]