I have no idea who wrote this following letter (part 1 of 3 parts), but I found it very powerful and convicting. May it be of help to you in your personal work.
I pray that you and your family are all well.
I am sending this letter because I have been unable to see you in person to study with you concerning the church of our Lord. I do not believe this is a matter that can be put off indefinitely because of the importance of the issue and its affect upon the eternal destiny of your soul, and those of your household.
What is written in this letter is written because of the love that I have for you. Friend, I like you and want you to do what is right in the sight of God. It is difficult in writing to see the tear in the eye, and the tenderness and cry in the voice that portray the love in the heart. Words written tend to seem harsher than the same words spoken. However, be assured of the tenderness of my heart in presenting these words to you.
Please, consider all that is said. Take your Bible and check to see that those things that I have written are true. If they are not what the Scriptures teach, do not believe it! But, if it is what the Scriptures teach, believe it and obey it for the sake of your soul. If you think that I am wrong, please show me where, I do not want to be wrong.
The church in the New Testament does not refer to a building. The church is a people. The church can hear and talk (Matthew 18:17); the church can fear (Acts 5:11); the church can be persecuted (Acts 8:1); the church can pray (Acts 12:8). A people can do these things, but neither organization nor a building can.
The church of Christ in the New Testament was the people who were saved. They were those bought with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). They are those who upon their belief are baptized in order to obtain the remission of sins: “Now when they heard this, they wen pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… Then they that gladly received bis word were baptized: and the same day were added unto them about three thousand soul… And the Lord added unto the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:37,38,41,47; Mark 16:16). Being bought with a price they were God’s, and temples. (1Corinthians 6:19,20). They were redeemed, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest in these last times for you: (1Peter 1:18-20). The Lord adds the saved to His church.
The church is to be subject to Christ in all things (Ephesians 5:23,24). Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23), not any representative on earth. The church that belongs to Christ requires a “thus saith the Lord,” a scriptural reason for everything that it says and does (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 1Peter 4:11; 2 John 9; Revelation 22:18,19). The church cannot go beyond that which is written. If a man teaches something other than the truth he is to be cut off from the church (Galatians 1:6-10; 2 John 9-11). That means the church will do what Christ has authorized; no more, no less (Colossians 3:17; Acts 4:7). There must be a “thus saith the Lord” before the church can act. As the army of Christ, composed of soldiers of Christ, it cannot advance unless given the command of Christ.
The commands of Christ are found in the New Testament, Jesus took the Old Testament out of the way, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:12-14; Ephesians 2:14-17; Galatians 3:1-5, 17-29; 4:21-5:5; Hebrews 8:1-28; 12:18-29; 13:11-12; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18). We are not under the Old Testament, for Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).
The conditions for pardon and fellowship are given in the New Testament. Those who receive pardon and are accepted into the fellowship of the church are:
- those who, having HEARD the word of God, have FAITH (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:1,6);
- those whose faith causes them to REPENT (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30; 2Peter 3:9);
- those who CONFESS their faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 8:36,37; Romans 10:9,10; Matthew 10:32,33);
- those who are IMMERSED (baptized in water) in order to obtain the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:26,27; 1Peter 3:21);
- those who REMAIN FAITHFUL IN OBEDIENCE, for those who walk disorderly are rejected (John 15:1-6; 2Peter 2:20-22; Revelation 3:15,16).
Any other conditions are commandments and doctrines of men. There is only one DOCTRINE of CHRIST and we are not to change it by adding to it or taking from it. (2John 9; Rev 22:18; De 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:6). Neither do we blend it with the Law of Moses. (Col 2:14)