AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE AMONG US WHO BELIEVE THAT THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST ARE ALL WRONG

AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE AMONG US WHO BELIEVE THAT THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST ARE ALL WRONG

Tim Nichols
Tim Nichols

June 8th, 2004, 5:26 am #1

[The following article (LETTER) is cited from POWER, a monthly publication of the church of Christ in Southaven, MS. Emph. by D.C.]


<font size=5>AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE AMONG US WHO BELIEVE THAT THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST ARE ALL WRONG </font>
<font size=4>by Tim Nichols</font>

If you are among those addressed by the title, I have some very sincere questions that I have long wanted to ask someone who might be willing to give genuine, transparent, and honest answers. The purpose of this article is not to try to convince you that you are mistaken or to solicit your explanations for why you believe as you do. We have devoted a good deal of paper and ink to these purposes over the past several years. Assuming that you have been around for these attempts at earnest discussion we conclude that you remain unconvinced after giving your best effort to considering the matter carefully. <font color=blue>You still believe that the "traditional" doctrines and practices that are common among churches of Christ are mistaken. You believe that we are legalistic, exclusive, and unreasonably isolated from other religious bodies. You think that we misunderstand grace and that we have inflexible ideas about how one becomes a Christian. You are convinced that choirs and instrumental music in worship are not only allowable, but right and good. You feel certain that our hermeneutics are not accurate. You are confident that we are incorrect about the nature and identity of the church. You are convinced that we are simply one denomination among many and that we are no better (and probably worse) than the others. </font>

I will preface my first question with a few comments designed to prevent misunderstanding. I am not really inviting you to leave us. If you are content to remain among us without creating division as you continue to study these matters, I would recommend that you do so. If your feet are firmly planted and your convictions are fixed, however, my question is this: Why are you still here? There are religious bodies in your community that believe, teach, and practice the very things you are seeking. They would applaud your liberation from legalism and welcome you with open arms. They would bathe you in love and acceptance. The tension that you feel within yourself and that you are creating within and between others could be alleviated in one swift and decisive move.

My second question: Why did you come among us? You knew who we were when you came. The church hid nothing from you. You came willingly whether you "grew up in the church" or, like me, sought out those who were following the Bible as you then understood it. If your reasons for entering are no longer valid, maybe it is time to resume your search elsewhere.

Are you still here because your parents or loved ones were (or are) members? If we had the right to grant all of the changes that you wish to make, you would not be a member of what they were members of, -- except for the name on the sign in front of the building. Do you really want the church of Christ to become something else, except for the name, only to accommodate your sentimental need to be associated with a "church of Christ" while, at the same time, having all that the denominations have to offer?

Would it not be more reasonable to join a denominational group that pleases you and then work to have them change their name to "church of Christ" while keeping all else the same? This would cause a good deal less disturbance than the other way around. It would seem to be a move more consistent with the kind of unity that you profess to believe in. Even if you, and others who are like-minded, are successful in convincing a number of people to adopt your ways you will not have contributed to greater unity. Those of us who are committed to what we sincerely believe to be the old paths will have to separate from you (or you from us) and you will have become the hammer that drove one more wedge of division (a thing that you profess to despise) into what you consider to be the larger body of Christ.

If you would be willing to answer these questions, please write. If you would not like to have your response published, please clearly indicate this when you write.

________________________________
Route 1, Box 206A
Burlington, WV 26710
E-mail: [url=mailto:tnichols1@mindspring.com]tnichols1@mindspring.com[/url]
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Dave
Dave

June 9th, 2004, 4:57 pm #2

Thank you Tim for writing because it has made me think about where I am, where the church is, and where God may want us to be.

First of all, I disagree with an underlying theme of your message, that there is a unified broad set of principles that are completely consistent, or at least were completely consistent throughout the churches of Christ. Due to the autonomous nature of our churches that is impossible. Only if there was a hierarchical structure that enforced a certain creed, would that be even a possibility. Many of the journals within the brotherhood were started because of disagreements between different influential members of the church. While the variations that exist today may be more extreme, they are nothing new. Indeed, nothing is new under the sun.

Even in the first century, variation of what was acceptable within the churches was a struggle. The church in Rome varied greatly from the church in Jerusalem simply due to the Roman or Jewish influences. The New Testament has stories of Christians who didn’t see eye to eye, whether it be eating certain meat, celebrating holidays, circumcision or who baptized you. The answers given in scripture weren’t always a required monolithic lock-step behavior of believers.

However, I do believe that there is a set of core beliefs that must be kept. The following set of beliefs is not comprehensive, just a good start: God created the heavens and the earth. Jesus is the Son of God. He came to earth, was crucified for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day. The Bible should be our only guide to determine what God’s will is for us.

I know of no one who believes that the church of Christ is all wrong. I believe from the most conservative to the most liberal church there are many tenets that we are all in agreement. The bigger questions are what are fundamental core beliefs and what are true disputable matters. The few articles I have seen on disputable matters list items such as time or length of worship service, order of worship, number of songs and the like. The problem with a list like this is that none of these are in dispute. Only the very argumentative would dispute by singing one less song or if the minister preached for 5 extra minutes that a church was no longer scriptural.

Not all change is good. We do not need to embrace every shiny new idea that comes down the pike. But if God fearing people like Stone and Campbell or even Luther and Wycliff did not see problems in their respective churches and risk change, it is unlikely that the brotherhood of the churches of Christ would exist today.

Over the years, my opinion has changed over a number of principles that were common in the church of Christ of my youth: King James is the only version that should be used, interracial dating is wrong, the six days of creation must be taken literally as six 24 hour days, among others. But if you and I have come to different conclusions on these and other topics, must we also disfellowship each other? Often it is stated that one hasn’t studied enough, or is deceived, or sometimes even evil…could it not be that two Godly people or elderships study an issue and come to different conclusions?

So many of our disagreements occur over style of worship which precious little is mentioned in the New Testament. Don’t you think there is a reason why the word sing is found less than ten times in the New Testament but love is found over 250 times? What are we emphasizing? Must every church come down on the same side of issues like Sunday School, clapping, or even praise teams to stay in fellowship? Especially when none of these things are even remotely addressed in scriptures. I have read arguments for and against these issues. I agree with some but have found none to be definitive. Do some churches struggle with turning worship service into entertainment? Yes! Do some churches struggle with immorality? Yes! Do some churches struggle with greed? Yes! Do some struggle with losing their first love? Yes! Do some churches struggle with pride in who they are like the Pharisee praying at the temple? Yes, and it may be all the same church, be it liberal or conservative! But can we not stay in fellowship as we struggle together to do God’s will?

I know of no church that has split where one side was innocent. Both sides are complicit in allowing Satan to divide the Lord’s church. We need to be very careful about divisions in the church. We need to examine ourselves that we are not still worldly with jealousy and quarrelling like Paul preaches against in 1 Cor. 3. I am not a Bible scholar and definitely do not have the answers to all the issues of the day. But I do not see how either side can be placed with the blame of being the hammer driving the wedge. The church of Christ is neither mine nor yours to keep, but is the Lord's. If the Lord is moving the church to change it will happen regardless of our theologies. However, if the changes happening now are not of God, He is able to maintain His church.

This website states as its purpose is to prevent churches from splitting. What I have found is that it has been used to make splits that have occurred to be as painful as possible. Not always, but often, I have seen how this website has been used by one side or the other to lash out at their former brothers. The level of smugness on both sides I found to be repulsive, even ungodly. Some of the discussions in the “Sunday School in Exile” section I have found to be informative and fruitful. I enjoyed debating with Dr. Crump (and others), whom I respect and have found to be respectful, about the movie The Passion of the Christ. Unfortunately, most of the discussion stays in the churches section where many times it is dated, inaccurate, or just name-calling.

This is probably the last time I post on this website, since I’ve pretty much concluded that most have taken sides and few minds are willing to engage in honest discussion about issues in dispute. Hopefully my comments will prompt what I believe would be more fruitful conversation.

Tim, you are more than welcome to use my comments, as long as they are used in the manner that they were given. If you plan to edit my comments, I would appreciate if you would send me the edited version for my approval. (I’ll email you directly my email.)
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Donnie Cruz
Donnie Cruz

June 10th, 2004, 6:36 am #3

To Dave [last name unknown?],

I posted Tim Nichols’ “Open Letter” of May 2003, which was addressed to folks like you—exactly as described in the letter. I’m just letting you know in case he does not bother to respond to “Dave” … someone. Funny! You didn’t give Tim a chance to edit and approve your post above, but you would like to approve his edited comments first.

There’s nothing new about your version of “disputable matters.” Did you not notice part of the beginning paragraph that was <font color=blue>bolded and highlighted in blue</font>? These are REAL examples of issues. No conservative will dispute the items on YOUR list because they are non-essentials and are NOT doctrinal issues (including order of worship, time and length of the assembly period, number of songs, etc.) Give credit to many readers—they’re NOT naïve or stupid.

I’m time-constrained right now to address your post above, but I’m sure there are readers who believe that you deviated from the real content of the letter, and instead took the opportunity to present the culture-driven “change” agenda of the agents and their weak defense mechanisms. Let me be direct to you. Did you not take the time to ponder upon the fact that: “There are religious bodies in your community that believe, teach, and practice the very things you are seeking … would bathe you in love and acceptance…”?

So, the questions you refused to answer remain the same:
  • Why are you still here?
  • Why did you come among us?
  • Would it not be more reasonable to join a denominational group that pleases you … a move more consistent with the kind of unity that you profess to believe in?
I realize you said, “This is probably the last time I post on this website….” I wonder what the psychologist will have to say about that. But answering the questions above may prove to have some redeeming value for your sake.

Donnie Cruz
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Darin Chappell
Darin Chappell

June 10th, 2004, 10:02 pm #4

Thank you Tim for writing because it has made me think about where I am, where the church is, and where God may want us to be.

First of all, I disagree with an underlying theme of your message, that there is a unified broad set of principles that are completely consistent, or at least were completely consistent throughout the churches of Christ. Due to the autonomous nature of our churches that is impossible. Only if there was a hierarchical structure that enforced a certain creed, would that be even a possibility. Many of the journals within the brotherhood were started because of disagreements between different influential members of the church. While the variations that exist today may be more extreme, they are nothing new. Indeed, nothing is new under the sun.

Even in the first century, variation of what was acceptable within the churches was a struggle. The church in Rome varied greatly from the church in Jerusalem simply due to the Roman or Jewish influences. The New Testament has stories of Christians who didn’t see eye to eye, whether it be eating certain meat, celebrating holidays, circumcision or who baptized you. The answers given in scripture weren’t always a required monolithic lock-step behavior of believers.

However, I do believe that there is a set of core beliefs that must be kept. The following set of beliefs is not comprehensive, just a good start: God created the heavens and the earth. Jesus is the Son of God. He came to earth, was crucified for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day. The Bible should be our only guide to determine what God’s will is for us.

I know of no one who believes that the church of Christ is all wrong. I believe from the most conservative to the most liberal church there are many tenets that we are all in agreement. The bigger questions are what are fundamental core beliefs and what are true disputable matters. The few articles I have seen on disputable matters list items such as time or length of worship service, order of worship, number of songs and the like. The problem with a list like this is that none of these are in dispute. Only the very argumentative would dispute by singing one less song or if the minister preached for 5 extra minutes that a church was no longer scriptural.

Not all change is good. We do not need to embrace every shiny new idea that comes down the pike. But if God fearing people like Stone and Campbell or even Luther and Wycliff did not see problems in their respective churches and risk change, it is unlikely that the brotherhood of the churches of Christ would exist today.

Over the years, my opinion has changed over a number of principles that were common in the church of Christ of my youth: King James is the only version that should be used, interracial dating is wrong, the six days of creation must be taken literally as six 24 hour days, among others. But if you and I have come to different conclusions on these and other topics, must we also disfellowship each other? Often it is stated that one hasn’t studied enough, or is deceived, or sometimes even evil…could it not be that two Godly people or elderships study an issue and come to different conclusions?

So many of our disagreements occur over style of worship which precious little is mentioned in the New Testament. Don’t you think there is a reason why the word sing is found less than ten times in the New Testament but love is found over 250 times? What are we emphasizing? Must every church come down on the same side of issues like Sunday School, clapping, or even praise teams to stay in fellowship? Especially when none of these things are even remotely addressed in scriptures. I have read arguments for and against these issues. I agree with some but have found none to be definitive. Do some churches struggle with turning worship service into entertainment? Yes! Do some churches struggle with immorality? Yes! Do some churches struggle with greed? Yes! Do some struggle with losing their first love? Yes! Do some churches struggle with pride in who they are like the Pharisee praying at the temple? Yes, and it may be all the same church, be it liberal or conservative! But can we not stay in fellowship as we struggle together to do God’s will?

I know of no church that has split where one side was innocent. Both sides are complicit in allowing Satan to divide the Lord’s church. We need to be very careful about divisions in the church. We need to examine ourselves that we are not still worldly with jealousy and quarrelling like Paul preaches against in 1 Cor. 3. I am not a Bible scholar and definitely do not have the answers to all the issues of the day. But I do not see how either side can be placed with the blame of being the hammer driving the wedge. The church of Christ is neither mine nor yours to keep, but is the Lord's. If the Lord is moving the church to change it will happen regardless of our theologies. However, if the changes happening now are not of God, He is able to maintain His church.

This website states as its purpose is to prevent churches from splitting. What I have found is that it has been used to make splits that have occurred to be as painful as possible. Not always, but often, I have seen how this website has been used by one side or the other to lash out at their former brothers. The level of smugness on both sides I found to be repulsive, even ungodly. Some of the discussions in the “Sunday School in Exile” section I have found to be informative and fruitful. I enjoyed debating with Dr. Crump (and others), whom I respect and have found to be respectful, about the movie The Passion of the Christ. Unfortunately, most of the discussion stays in the churches section where many times it is dated, inaccurate, or just name-calling.

This is probably the last time I post on this website, since I’ve pretty much concluded that most have taken sides and few minds are willing to engage in honest discussion about issues in dispute. Hopefully my comments will prompt what I believe would be more fruitful conversation.

Tim, you are more than welcome to use my comments, as long as they are used in the manner that they were given. If you plan to edit my comments, I would appreciate if you would send me the edited version for my approval. (I’ll email you directly my email.)
Dave (forgive my failure to use your last name, but you did not give it),

You wrote, "First of all, I disagree with an underlying theme of your message, that there is a unified broad set of principles that are completely consistent, or at least were completely consistent throughout the churches of Christ. Due to the autonomous nature of our churches that is impossible. Only if there was a hierarchical structure that enforced a certain creed, would that be even a possibility." I have no doubt as to your sincerity, but please permit me to point out the one bit of erroneous information upon which you have established your disagreement above:

It is NOT true that congregations of the Lord's church are autonomous, and there IS a hierarchical structure in the churches of Christ!

You sir, like so many of those who see nothing wrong with the changes that are taking place in our very midst, have fallen prey to the idea that each congregation is autonomous in nature. Now, it's not entirely your fault, because many of our brethren have used that very word to describe the nature of congregational leadership over the years. Even so, it is a wrongful concept and as such, it ought to be corrected in your reasoning.

You see, the local congregation is not autonomous. It has a King. We are not self-rulers (as the term "autonomy" suggests), we are but humble servants of a King, who has given us His word whereby we might have access to all things that pertain to life and godliness (II Pet 1:3). It is by that same word that we know that we have the responsibility to follow righteous leaders (Heb 13:7, 17), not because those leaders have innate authority, but rather because of the authority of our King, who has instructed us to follow them. Even so, our following is to be done, having considered their lives as examples of faithfulness (I Tim 3:1-7), thereby implying that, while we must follow righteous leaders, we MUST NOT follow unrighteous ones! Why? Because we are not autonomous to do as we individually will ... we are servants in a kingdom that are to follow only those who lead us closer to the King according to HIS plan (Rom 6:16-17).

This then, meets the requirement that you set out for there to be "a unified broad set of principles that are completely consistent, or at least were completely consistent throughout the churches of Christ." Because this is the case, we find the apostle Paul declaring the truth of God's word to "all churches" (I Cor 7:17, 11:16, 16:1). By this principle, we can be joyful over those who share that "like precious faith" with us (II Pet 1:1), and this is all possible because the principles of THE faith was once delivered to the saints [implying ALL of them!] (Jude 3).

I do not count you as an enemy, Dave. Instead, I admonish you as a brother (II Thess 3:15). Please do not confuse the liberty we have in Christ with the autonomy of the self-ruled. We have a King to Whom we shall answer in that great and terrible day. A self-ruler answers to no one, but you and I both shall stand before His throne to answer for what we have done in this life, whether it be good or bad (II Cor 5:10).
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william v
william v

June 12th, 2004, 8:25 am #5

[The following article (LETTER) is cited from POWER, a monthly publication of the church of Christ in Southaven, MS. Emph. by D.C.]


<font size=5>AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE AMONG US WHO BELIEVE THAT THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST ARE ALL WRONG </font>
<font size=4>by Tim Nichols</font>

If you are among those addressed by the title, I have some very sincere questions that I have long wanted to ask someone who might be willing to give genuine, transparent, and honest answers. The purpose of this article is not to try to convince you that you are mistaken or to solicit your explanations for why you believe as you do. We have devoted a good deal of paper and ink to these purposes over the past several years. Assuming that you have been around for these attempts at earnest discussion we conclude that you remain unconvinced after giving your best effort to considering the matter carefully. <font color=blue>You still believe that the "traditional" doctrines and practices that are common among churches of Christ are mistaken. You believe that we are legalistic, exclusive, and unreasonably isolated from other religious bodies. You think that we misunderstand grace and that we have inflexible ideas about how one becomes a Christian. You are convinced that choirs and instrumental music in worship are not only allowable, but right and good. You feel certain that our hermeneutics are not accurate. You are confident that we are incorrect about the nature and identity of the church. You are convinced that we are simply one denomination among many and that we are no better (and probably worse) than the others. </font>

I will preface my first question with a few comments designed to prevent misunderstanding. I am not really inviting you to leave us. If you are content to remain among us without creating division as you continue to study these matters, I would recommend that you do so. If your feet are firmly planted and your convictions are fixed, however, my question is this: Why are you still here? There are religious bodies in your community that believe, teach, and practice the very things you are seeking. They would applaud your liberation from legalism and welcome you with open arms. They would bathe you in love and acceptance. The tension that you feel within yourself and that you are creating within and between others could be alleviated in one swift and decisive move.

My second question: Why did you come among us? You knew who we were when you came. The church hid nothing from you. You came willingly whether you "grew up in the church" or, like me, sought out those who were following the Bible as you then understood it. If your reasons for entering are no longer valid, maybe it is time to resume your search elsewhere.

Are you still here because your parents or loved ones were (or are) members? If we had the right to grant all of the changes that you wish to make, you would not be a member of what they were members of, -- except for the name on the sign in front of the building. Do you really want the church of Christ to become something else, except for the name, only to accommodate your sentimental need to be associated with a "church of Christ" while, at the same time, having all that the denominations have to offer?

Would it not be more reasonable to join a denominational group that pleases you and then work to have them change their name to "church of Christ" while keeping all else the same? This would cause a good deal less disturbance than the other way around. It would seem to be a move more consistent with the kind of unity that you profess to believe in. Even if you, and others who are like-minded, are successful in convincing a number of people to adopt your ways you will not have contributed to greater unity. Those of us who are committed to what we sincerely believe to be the old paths will have to separate from you (or you from us) and you will have become the hammer that drove one more wedge of division (a thing that you profess to despise) into what you consider to be the larger body of Christ.

If you would be willing to answer these questions, please write. If you would not like to have your response published, please clearly indicate this when you write.

________________________________
Route 1, Box 206A
Burlington, WV 26710
E-mail: [url=mailto:tnichols1@mindspring.com]tnichols1@mindspring.com[/url]
I grew up in the Church of Christ. It does not "remain silent where the Bible is silent", it condemns where the Bible is silent. It creates doctrine where doctrine does not exist. This is Adding to the Word. You teach the washing away of sins from Peter and Ananias, which was in effect at the time, until Paul was specifically chosen by God to learn His Will, hear words from God's mouth concerning the New Covenant, and pass on this info to others. (Acts 22:16) After Paul was taught by "revelation from Jesus Christ," he never taught the washing away of sins. He taught they were taken away at the cross. Peter and Ananias taught what was in effect at the time, that "before the coming of Christ John taught baptism for the remission of sins." Galations ch. 1 and 2 show it was 3 years Paul before Paul was introduced to Peter, and another 14 years before he first taught at Jerusalem. His teaching letters did not reach the churches for 40 or more years after the New Covenant began. The N.C. was in effect, but no one knew it until Paul was able to get teaching to them! Peter did not know the N.C. until he learned it from Paul. Ananias did not know it yet either. The Church of Christ gets it's doctrine from Peter and Ananias, rather than from Paul' teaching.
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Kenneth Sublett
Kenneth Sublett

June 12th, 2004, 9:02 pm #6

You will not find a pre- Baptist scholar who does not support the absolute Biblical truth that there is the OLD TESTAMENT which was a system of Law imposed because of transgression: that transgression being "rising up to play" which was a Dionysus like musical worship of the Egyptian (Canaanite, Babylonian, Catholic) Triad.

Paul leapfrogged over the MONARCHY which had nothing to do with the faith of Abraham. Abraham was justified by faith when he kept all of God's commandments.

The prophets make it clear that Messiah would come and the specific PREDESTINATED MYSTERY was that there would be NO separation between the Jews (sinners) and Gentile (sinners).
  • Baptists deny this and call the Spirit of Christ who breathed on and in the prophets a premedited liar.
The direct commandment of Jesus was to go into ALL NATIONS and make disciples of believers (those with faith in the direct command to save through baptism). This was done by:
<font color=blue>
  • Baptizing
AND
  • Teaching that which Jesus taught
</font>Baptists deny this and say that only Paul was sent to the Gentiles with a DIFFERENT coventant, a different gospel, a different baptism and TRULY a different Christ.

Next, a BELIEVER is always a baptized believer. And a disciple is not a charismatic worshiper but a STUDENT. What do STUDENTS do? Why they attend the ekklesia or synagogue which Jesus promised to build. There, those under the burden of the RITUALISTS cound find REST so that they can "come learn of me."
In the Greek literature the word REST or PAUO is highly biased toward the idea of SHUTTING DOWN the flute girls and rhetorical speakers.
  • <font color=red>Making the FLUTE GIRL (or perverted boy) get out of the assembly when there was a wish to DIALOG or LEARN. "Make the flute girl get out" because she will cause us to DRINK MORE WINE.

    Making the RHETOR or sOPHISts (serpents) REST OR PAUO because "we DO NOT BELIEVE that they are real SORCERERS." Rather, everyone knew that the performers were PARASITES unless you were ready to get "fluted down with wine."</font>
Only DISCIPLES were identified as CHRISTIANS. This was not a term of ridicule because it means followers or students of Christ.

Therefore, if words, the Bible and history have any meaning, only baptized believers (those who believe AND are baptized shall be saved). The term unbeliever does not mean that one has SAVING FAITH but has not yet been baptized: it means that one is a traitor and calls God in Christ a LIAR because they deny that <font color=blue>HE THAT BELIEVETH AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED."</font>

Paul insisted that he preached the SAME gospel and COULD NOT have preached a different gospel. Paul was not sent to baptize (only) but to preach the ONE gospel about the ONE Jesus Christ. He DID baptize but was not happy because they had not grasped the message that the GOSPEL was to show that only JESUS died for them. If Paul had taught a BAPTIST (pagan) baptism he said nothing about Jesus having to COME to a Baptist or have the Baptist believer ACTUALLY BECOME CHRIST and die for their own sins.

The Baptists baptism was taken from Zwingli who invented FAITH- ONLY and claimed that until 1525 NO doctor had the truth. Even so, Zwingly said that baptism did not regenerate in the sense that infants were baptized BEFORE they could believe. All of the "anti" baptism resources was an attempt to put down the claim that the CHURCH could regenerate in-womb infants by sprinkling THEIR water by THEIR hands and speaking THEIR words including EXORCISM. Both Luther and Calvin claimed that baptism saved because God put the power in the act. Both tippy tow around infant baptism.

Take a look to see that Believer's Baptism does not mean that the Baptists baptize those who have "faith." They claim that they are saved the INSTANT they believe in Jesus Christ. However, the "key" is to confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. When He comes again it will NOT be with a sin offering for refusniks. Within the context of the Great commission they must ALSO believe the direct command and "gospel" for those who cannot die for themselves: He that believes and IS baptized shall be saved."

http://www.piney.com/BapPagan.html

Next, the Old and New Testaments are filled with proof that both Jews and Gentiles were subject to the same gospel, the same faith and the same baptism.

http://www.piney.com/James-Melton-Acts2-38.html

When you deny Christ by claiming that He has to personally die for you (like the Eucharist or Mass) truth gets shut off. That is why a fundamental SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH begins by a form of BAPTISM. See

http://www.piney.com/Ephesians.Two.html

Baptism is not a PUNCHED TICKED TO HEAVEN: baptism is where God in Christ "sprinkles" your heart or spirit much like sweeping out the "demons." However, the possessed needs to request help by calling on the name of the Lord:

This sanctifies or makes your own spirit A holy spirit. Then and only then does God SEEK you in the new place of your own SPIRIT and only in connection with THE TRUTH or the Word. If you are doing BODY WORSHIP God or saying "lord, lord" then God DOESN'T KNOW YOUR NAME. Paul's UNIQUE worship word in the assembly or synagogue was to GIVE HEED to the WORD of Christ. There is NOT command to sing or make music in the external sense. The command is to SPEAK, TEACH OR PREACH "that which is written," the "Spirit," or the "Word of Christ." Jesus said MY WORDS are SPIRIT and LIFE.

By becoming a DISCIPLE by baptism God gives you A holy spirit or A good conscience or consiousness or a "co-perception." Then, since He is the only RABBI, He teaches you ONLY to the extent that you can recite or speak the "word as it has been taught" and only if you can say: "Thus saith the Lord." This is prophesying and makes you a prophet when you speak as an oracle of God.

Everyone knew the CONCEPT of baptism: before John the tentmaker accepts you as a disciple or apprentice tentmaker HE must wash you and give you a NEW NAME. Jesus did not RADICALIZE this meaning. Therefore, the message is that LORD, LORD SAYERS or confesing believers are saved but those who DO NOT CALL Me a liar by rejecting the METHOD by which He will wash our spirits so that HE can indwell as the Spirit of Truth. God saves by faithfulNESS and not by faith only which REPUDIATES the clearest statement in the Bible and church history just before the time John Smyth (named his church the Church of Christ) fell into Zwingliism.

I would worry if I had to defend the LARGEST PROTESTANT system, which had over 300 DENOMINATIONS after the "First Great American Awakening" and some can still count about 146, had built such an institution of central headquarters, colleges, universities and "churches" on the FOUNDATION of having to EXPLAIN AWAY all of the Bible and church history. Harold Bloom does an excellent job of defining the "instrumental churches" and the Baptists as a PURELY AMERICAN RELIGION. He claims, and there is lots of proof, that they are a GNOSTIC system. According to Bloom these groups have NO HISTORICAL CONNECTION with the historic Christian Religion. Trying to invent TWO NEW TESTAMENTS and TWO GOSPELS and, in Believer's Baptism, two christs would not let me sleep soundly. To top it off, churches which have remained faithful are identified as CULTS.

I don't meant to be unkind but the PURE BULK and control of the FAITH- ONLY system means that it CANNOT be the persecuted church and the suffering servant of a tiny remnant of believers who are "despised and rejected of men." Jesus said that you have to COME LEARN OF ME and Paul said that to find Jesus you have to "go outside the camp or city." That EXCLUDES physical places and acts. NOT in places made by human hands or by ACTS of human hands. What about the church? Worship at the church is possible only to the extent that everyone sits dow, shuts up, pray their own prayers and LEARN Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as DISCIPLING. This allows you to sing and make melody IN THE PLACE OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT OR HEART which is the ONLY place God will be looking for you. People went to church, learned Biblical prayers and hymns, went home and made melody in their hearts in the kitchen or fields. History records that to be EXACTLY what the early assembly or synagoguges did. The Jews then and now thought of worship as Bible Study!

Ken
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Donnie Cruz
Donnie Cruz

June 13th, 2004, 9:52 am #7

To Dave [last name unknown?],

I posted Tim Nichols’ “Open Letter” of May 2003, which was addressed to folks like you—exactly as described in the letter. I’m just letting you know in case he does not bother to respond to “Dave” … someone. Funny! You didn’t give Tim a chance to edit and approve your post above, but you would like to approve his edited comments first.

There’s nothing new about your version of “disputable matters.” Did you not notice part of the beginning paragraph that was <font color=blue>bolded and highlighted in blue</font>? These are REAL examples of issues. No conservative will dispute the items on YOUR list because they are non-essentials and are NOT doctrinal issues (including order of worship, time and length of the assembly period, number of songs, etc.) Give credit to many readers—they’re NOT naïve or stupid.

I’m time-constrained right now to address your post above, but I’m sure there are readers who believe that you deviated from the real content of the letter, and instead took the opportunity to present the culture-driven “change” agenda of the agents and their weak defense mechanisms. Let me be direct to you. Did you not take the time to ponder upon the fact that: “There are religious bodies in your community that believe, teach, and practice the very things you are seeking … would bathe you in love and acceptance…”?

So, the questions you refused to answer remain the same:
  • Why are you still here?
  • Why did you come among us?
  • Would it not be more reasonable to join a denominational group that pleases you … a move more consistent with the kind of unity that you profess to believe in?
I realize you said, “This is probably the last time I post on this website….” I wonder what the psychologist will have to say about that. But answering the questions above may prove to have some redeeming value for your sake.

Donnie Cruz
To Dave ____,

Just following up…. I have confirmed via e-mail correspondence with Tim Nichols that he has heard from you and that he has written you a brief response. [By the way, he thanked me for letting him know about posting his article and hoped that “it leads to something good”—and I believe it does!] So, it appears that one did not change the other’s mind concerning the “open letter” and your posted response to that letter.

I agree with you “that there is a set of core beliefs that must be kept”—we all know that. You then enumerated a few examples, as “a good start,” such as God’s wonderful creation and the coming of our Savior crucified for our sins—all related to the divine side. However, for whatever reason, you did not cite at least the human involvement in obtaining this free redemption that’s offered to all of mankind.

The changes are not all about “worship style” as the change advocates would have one believe. The issue may appear to be in the realm of “worship style” when in reality it is about “worship content.” Howbeit, the underlying problems or controversies have more to do with core doctrinal beliefs. A perfect example of several is regarding the purpose of baptism—the reason for my concern that you made no mention of how man is to obtain salvation. Baptism—whether or not it is (a) because sins have already been forgiven or (b) in order that sins are to be forgiven—is a very significant “core” belief.

I honestly believe that Tim’s message is clear—the church, the body of Christ, does not need transformation nor does it need to be subverted in order to be transformed. The change agents are well aware of the fact that there are denominations that believe as they do, for example, that baptism is simply an act of obedience only AFTER a sinner has already been redeemed by simply accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Wow! Speaking of a MAJOR doctrinal issue! Again, Tim’s message is clear—all the change agents have to do is join the denomination of their choice that would welcome them with open arms.

This post is short. It does not include several other major issues confronting the churches of Christ. But, hopefully, you understand the point. God’s will does not need improvisation.

Donnie Cruz
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Chuck W
Chuck W

June 14th, 2004, 7:56 pm #8

Thank you Tim for writing because it has made me think about where I am, where the church is, and where God may want us to be.

First of all, I disagree with an underlying theme of your message, that there is a unified broad set of principles that are completely consistent, or at least were completely consistent throughout the churches of Christ. Due to the autonomous nature of our churches that is impossible. Only if there was a hierarchical structure that enforced a certain creed, would that be even a possibility. Many of the journals within the brotherhood were started because of disagreements between different influential members of the church. While the variations that exist today may be more extreme, they are nothing new. Indeed, nothing is new under the sun.

Even in the first century, variation of what was acceptable within the churches was a struggle. The church in Rome varied greatly from the church in Jerusalem simply due to the Roman or Jewish influences. The New Testament has stories of Christians who didn’t see eye to eye, whether it be eating certain meat, celebrating holidays, circumcision or who baptized you. The answers given in scripture weren’t always a required monolithic lock-step behavior of believers.

However, I do believe that there is a set of core beliefs that must be kept. The following set of beliefs is not comprehensive, just a good start: God created the heavens and the earth. Jesus is the Son of God. He came to earth, was crucified for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day. The Bible should be our only guide to determine what God’s will is for us.

I know of no one who believes that the church of Christ is all wrong. I believe from the most conservative to the most liberal church there are many tenets that we are all in agreement. The bigger questions are what are fundamental core beliefs and what are true disputable matters. The few articles I have seen on disputable matters list items such as time or length of worship service, order of worship, number of songs and the like. The problem with a list like this is that none of these are in dispute. Only the very argumentative would dispute by singing one less song or if the minister preached for 5 extra minutes that a church was no longer scriptural.

Not all change is good. We do not need to embrace every shiny new idea that comes down the pike. But if God fearing people like Stone and Campbell or even Luther and Wycliff did not see problems in their respective churches and risk change, it is unlikely that the brotherhood of the churches of Christ would exist today.

Over the years, my opinion has changed over a number of principles that were common in the church of Christ of my youth: King James is the only version that should be used, interracial dating is wrong, the six days of creation must be taken literally as six 24 hour days, among others. But if you and I have come to different conclusions on these and other topics, must we also disfellowship each other? Often it is stated that one hasn’t studied enough, or is deceived, or sometimes even evil…could it not be that two Godly people or elderships study an issue and come to different conclusions?

So many of our disagreements occur over style of worship which precious little is mentioned in the New Testament. Don’t you think there is a reason why the word sing is found less than ten times in the New Testament but love is found over 250 times? What are we emphasizing? Must every church come down on the same side of issues like Sunday School, clapping, or even praise teams to stay in fellowship? Especially when none of these things are even remotely addressed in scriptures. I have read arguments for and against these issues. I agree with some but have found none to be definitive. Do some churches struggle with turning worship service into entertainment? Yes! Do some churches struggle with immorality? Yes! Do some churches struggle with greed? Yes! Do some struggle with losing their first love? Yes! Do some churches struggle with pride in who they are like the Pharisee praying at the temple? Yes, and it may be all the same church, be it liberal or conservative! But can we not stay in fellowship as we struggle together to do God’s will?

I know of no church that has split where one side was innocent. Both sides are complicit in allowing Satan to divide the Lord’s church. We need to be very careful about divisions in the church. We need to examine ourselves that we are not still worldly with jealousy and quarrelling like Paul preaches against in 1 Cor. 3. I am not a Bible scholar and definitely do not have the answers to all the issues of the day. But I do not see how either side can be placed with the blame of being the hammer driving the wedge. The church of Christ is neither mine nor yours to keep, but is the Lord's. If the Lord is moving the church to change it will happen regardless of our theologies. However, if the changes happening now are not of God, He is able to maintain His church.

This website states as its purpose is to prevent churches from splitting. What I have found is that it has been used to make splits that have occurred to be as painful as possible. Not always, but often, I have seen how this website has been used by one side or the other to lash out at their former brothers. The level of smugness on both sides I found to be repulsive, even ungodly. Some of the discussions in the “Sunday School in Exile” section I have found to be informative and fruitful. I enjoyed debating with Dr. Crump (and others), whom I respect and have found to be respectful, about the movie The Passion of the Christ. Unfortunately, most of the discussion stays in the churches section where many times it is dated, inaccurate, or just name-calling.

This is probably the last time I post on this website, since I’ve pretty much concluded that most have taken sides and few minds are willing to engage in honest discussion about issues in dispute. Hopefully my comments will prompt what I believe would be more fruitful conversation.

Tim, you are more than welcome to use my comments, as long as they are used in the manner that they were given. If you plan to edit my comments, I would appreciate if you would send me the edited version for my approval. (I’ll email you directly my email.)
I. Quoting Dave "Unified broad set of principles that are completely consistent, or at least were completely consistent throughout the churches of Christ."

RESPONSE: How many different congregations have you attended with the thought of making that congregation your home? I have attended 48 with this thought in mind. These 48 were in 5 different states. I found reason other than the basics not to attend - of which most was a lack of love - They all had the same basic believes that are what the church of Christ is known for:
a. GOD is "the" Father
b. JESUS is "the" SON
c. No man comes to the FATHER except through JESUS
d. the BIBLE is "the" word of GOD
e. the BIBLE is our "only" source for instructions from GOD and Man Made Doctrines are false
e. Baptism is a must for salvation
f. Musical instruments are not authorized for use in worship service
g. Leaders of the church are to be men and only men
h. Elders are to be selected from the congregation as the shepherds of the congregation.
i. Deacons assist the elders with specific duties being assigned to them
j. Preachers preach
k. The congregation members help with teaching, leading prayer, leading singing, etc
l. the Lords Supper is to be taken every Sunday in remembrance of JESUS
m. adding to the word of GOD is a sin
n. Worship service has a specific (detailed by GOD) acceptable format
o. but in all things The two greatest commandments are the most important.

This is what I believe TIM is speaking of.

Now we have many who have come among us who wish to change these things.
For Example:
1. Instruments in Worship
2. Female elders, deacons, preachers, lead prayer, lead singing, etc
3. AND as a result they are adding to the "WORD of GOD"

To this I also add to the Question Tim asked " Why are they still here?" and "Why did they come among us?"

These items above are the "true" foundations of the church. Those who want these things changed are not wanting GOD's truth. They want man's truth and the two are not the same nor are they compatible.

JESUS himself said there is truth and non truth;

The Children of the Devil

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

Any one, including Tim or myself, that adds to or takes away from the word is adding to or taking away from "the" truth... GOD's truth and it is sin to do so.

I Corinthians 4: 6 "Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." "Do not go beyond" that means do not add too.

If a man (or woman) is not following GOD's word, if they are altering GOD's word, if they are not obedient to GOD's word, AND they refuse to change, they must be removed from GOD's church family before they corrupt others.

II. Quoting Dave - "I know of no church that has split where one side was innocent."

Because you don't know of this does not mean it didn't occur. Even in the situation that you know of personally. In every circumstance, when some one leaves or splits a church there is at least 1 side that is always wrong.

Separation from GOD's church is not healthy. Dividing or leaving a congregation is not healthy.

Regardless of who is innocent and who is guilty - the ones who are attempting to change GOD's instructions are wrong.

A preacher once said "While musical instruments in worship are not an issue of salvation - obedience is." AMEN! So I quote again - I Corinthians 4: 6 "Do not go beyond what is written."

III. Quoting Dave - "If the Lord is moving the church to change it will happen regardless of our theologies. However, if the changes happening now are not of God, He is able to maintain His church."

First -The LORD will NEVER move HIS church to a change that goes against the WORD HE has already printed - NEVER.

SECOND - We are his soldiers and we are NOT to allow changes that are against HIS word. If we stand by and let the lost become the leaders then we are as guilty as they are. Anyone who is deliberately, perpetually and arrogantly disobedient to GOD is lost. Any one. Baptized or not.

I'll not have my children and wife attend church anywhere that the absolute truth and nothing but the truth is observed, practiced and taught.

Make no mistake - I am not speaking of perfection or a lack of guilt. I am speaking of GOD's truth being the 100% desired goal. Seeking perfection in ourselves and others is guaranteed to fail. We can never be perfect BUT we can relentlessly pursue perfection and that's what teaching the absolute one and only truth is.

Members of the church of Christ, who want to add to what is written or take away from it, regardless of their reason, motivation, or influence need to repent,leave, or be asked to leave.

There are so many other religions that do any or all of these other things that they want, they don't need to cause dissension in the church of CHRIST by staying where they are - just leave.

I am a fifth generation member of the church yet I do not know the truth to be what it is because of this. I rebelled to the church's teaching believing that other religions had to be right too.

So until I was 24 years old I attended and even became a member of other religions and reluctantly, at 24 years old, walked into the church of Christ building because I knew that they taught the truth. EVERY other place I went did not.

The simple way to test the truth in any situation is:
1. ask a spiritual question
2. if the answer is "I believe" or "we believe" they have just told you that the answer is man's answer and not GOD's.
3. If the answer is GOD says and they are scripture and let you discern the truth for your self, then you now that they are at least seeking the truth.

If they cannot substantiate what they say by backing it up with scripture that say what they say - it cannot be the truth. It is that simple. GOD has not made HIS word so confusing that the average person cannot understand it. Any one can read the truth and know it's truth if GOD is their Father. This is JESUS words not mine.

John 8 47 "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

In summation - my point and I believe Tim's point is - there is only one truth - GOD's truth. AND we, HIS children know this, accept this and as HIS children we must insist upon this.

Given the opportunity we will love, pray, and work with any who does not understand - to understand. BUT in the end if they do not understand - we must fall upon the truth - once again John 8 47 "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

If they are not GOD's child they can only be the devils and the devil wants to drag the rest of GOD's children away from GOD. We are required to tell the devil to depart and this also goes for HIS children.

Do not be deceived - there is only one truth, one GOD, one Savior - JESUS - so there is only one way. GOD's way. I am writing a book entitled
" GOD's Word is Not Subject to Interpretation" - it is subject to understanding, acceptance, and obedience.

Enforcement of the truth can offend - many things JESUS said offended people. Once again the offended people were not GOD's children.

The truth is Dave - those of us who are GOD's children are fed up with those who want to pervert GOD's word. We want them to get in line or quietly go away. We are willing to acknowledge their right to believe what they believe. In return, they must let us believe what we believe and leave us as they found us. Living in GOD's truth.

I love GOD and If I have said anything HE disapproves of, I ask HIS forgiveness and all others that I have sinned against.

Sincerely,
Chuck W

To All Christians - "A Little Less Conversation and a Little More Action Please" quote from Elvis Presley 1971
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Dave
Dave

June 14th, 2004, 9:14 pm #9

To Dave ____,

Just following up…. I have confirmed via e-mail correspondence with Tim Nichols that he has heard from you and that he has written you a brief response. [By the way, he thanked me for letting him know about posting his article and hoped that “it leads to something good”—and I believe it does!] So, it appears that one did not change the other’s mind concerning the “open letter” and your posted response to that letter.

I agree with you “that there is a set of core beliefs that must be kept”—we all know that. You then enumerated a few examples, as “a good start,” such as God’s wonderful creation and the coming of our Savior crucified for our sins—all related to the divine side. However, for whatever reason, you did not cite at least the human involvement in obtaining this free redemption that’s offered to all of mankind.

The changes are not all about “worship style” as the change advocates would have one believe. The issue may appear to be in the realm of “worship style” when in reality it is about “worship content.” Howbeit, the underlying problems or controversies have more to do with core doctrinal beliefs. A perfect example of several is regarding the purpose of baptism—the reason for my concern that you made no mention of how man is to obtain salvation. Baptism—whether or not it is (a) because sins have already been forgiven or (b) in order that sins are to be forgiven—is a very significant “core” belief.

I honestly believe that Tim’s message is clear—the church, the body of Christ, does not need transformation nor does it need to be subverted in order to be transformed. The change agents are well aware of the fact that there are denominations that believe as they do, for example, that baptism is simply an act of obedience only AFTER a sinner has already been redeemed by simply accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Wow! Speaking of a MAJOR doctrinal issue! Again, Tim’s message is clear—all the change agents have to do is join the denomination of their choice that would welcome them with open arms.

This post is short. It does not include several other major issues confronting the churches of Christ. But, hopefully, you understand the point. God’s will does not need improvisation.

Donnie Cruz
Donnie,

Taking your advice, I hope that by answering the questions you posted will have some redeeming value.

Why are you still here? Why did you come among us? Why do you not join another denominational group?

I was born and raised in a church of Christ. It is my heritage. It is my family. I couldn’t leave it without leaving a part of me behind. Joining a denominational group would be like disowning my family. Just because I haven’t come to the exact same conclusions about every issue you have, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in restoration principles. “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent” makes a lot of sense to me. By the way, I believe that baptism is essential for salvation, so we don’t disagree on everything. You seem no less defensive in your decision to stay when others ask “Why are you still at Madison?”

My point about getting permission for publishing my comments elsewhere wasn’t to edit anything Tim had to say, but permission on my comments, i.e. not to take one line out of context. I didn’t edit his article or take items out of context. For anyone interested , his article was plain to see above my post.

When you mention “No conservative will dispute the items on YOUR list…they’re NOT naïve or stupid.” I agree that a lack of intelligence or naivety is not a requirement for conservatism or liberalism for that matter. My point was that on this website I have found little if anything that we can agree to disagree on…i.e. clapping after baptisms, having a praise team, singing repetitive songs, having a more emotional service, etc. And if you have come to a different conclusion you are sinful, deceived, and/or perverted. About the only post I found on the site that listed items that are subject to change was entitled “SHALL WE CHANGE OUR WORSHIP?” by Roger D. Campbell that listed as changes that are acceptable as 1. Changing the times of services on the first day of the week, 2. Changing the order, 3. Changing the length of services 4. Changing the place of assembly. I should have mentioned this when I posted my comments. Here is a link to his entire article: http://www.network54.com/Forum/message? ... 1077782211

Donnie, I have a question I hope you will answer. Can you list one or more issues that you disagree (maybe strongly) with a more liberal brother but can still consider him a brother?

One of my biggest problems with this site is the pettiness and condescension that I find very unchristian. For example “To Dave [last name unknown?],” or “Dave (forgive my failure to use your last name, but you did not give it),” I don’t go to Madison, I don’t preach, and I have never met either you or Darin, so why be petty about my (and many other’s) desire to remain anonymous when posting to this and other sites? Similarly why did you include “I wonder what the psychologist will have to say about that.” other than to bait me into responding in kind? Can we not intelligently discuss and debate matters without acting like we are in middle school again? And yes I have seen many petty comments made by the liberal side as well.

As I said in my previous post. We need to be very careful about divisions in the church. We need to examine ourselves that we are not still worldly with jealousy and quarrelling like Paul preaches against in 1 Cor. 3. Are we truly speaking where the Bible speaks? What are the important issues? What are areas that we can come to different conclusions without breaking the bond of unity? Can we define ourselves by what we stand for not only what we stand against?

Dave
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H.Roberson
H.Roberson

June 30th, 2004, 11:22 pm #10

I. Quoting Dave "Unified broad set of principles that are completely consistent, or at least were completely consistent throughout the churches of Christ."

RESPONSE: How many different congregations have you attended with the thought of making that congregation your home? I have attended 48 with this thought in mind. These 48 were in 5 different states. I found reason other than the basics not to attend - of which most was a lack of love - They all had the same basic believes that are what the church of Christ is known for:
a. GOD is "the" Father
b. JESUS is "the" SON
c. No man comes to the FATHER except through JESUS
d. the BIBLE is "the" word of GOD
e. the BIBLE is our "only" source for instructions from GOD and Man Made Doctrines are false
e. Baptism is a must for salvation
f. Musical instruments are not authorized for use in worship service
g. Leaders of the church are to be men and only men
h. Elders are to be selected from the congregation as the shepherds of the congregation.
i. Deacons assist the elders with specific duties being assigned to them
j. Preachers preach
k. The congregation members help with teaching, leading prayer, leading singing, etc
l. the Lords Supper is to be taken every Sunday in remembrance of JESUS
m. adding to the word of GOD is a sin
n. Worship service has a specific (detailed by GOD) acceptable format
o. but in all things The two greatest commandments are the most important.

This is what I believe TIM is speaking of.

Now we have many who have come among us who wish to change these things.
For Example:
1. Instruments in Worship
2. Female elders, deacons, preachers, lead prayer, lead singing, etc
3. AND as a result they are adding to the "WORD of GOD"

To this I also add to the Question Tim asked " Why are they still here?" and "Why did they come among us?"

These items above are the "true" foundations of the church. Those who want these things changed are not wanting GOD's truth. They want man's truth and the two are not the same nor are they compatible.

JESUS himself said there is truth and non truth;

The Children of the Devil

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

Any one, including Tim or myself, that adds to or takes away from the word is adding to or taking away from "the" truth... GOD's truth and it is sin to do so.

I Corinthians 4: 6 "Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." "Do not go beyond" that means do not add too.

If a man (or woman) is not following GOD's word, if they are altering GOD's word, if they are not obedient to GOD's word, AND they refuse to change, they must be removed from GOD's church family before they corrupt others.

II. Quoting Dave - "I know of no church that has split where one side was innocent."

Because you don't know of this does not mean it didn't occur. Even in the situation that you know of personally. In every circumstance, when some one leaves or splits a church there is at least 1 side that is always wrong.

Separation from GOD's church is not healthy. Dividing or leaving a congregation is not healthy.

Regardless of who is innocent and who is guilty - the ones who are attempting to change GOD's instructions are wrong.

A preacher once said "While musical instruments in worship are not an issue of salvation - obedience is." AMEN! So I quote again - I Corinthians 4: 6 "Do not go beyond what is written."

III. Quoting Dave - "If the Lord is moving the church to change it will happen regardless of our theologies. However, if the changes happening now are not of God, He is able to maintain His church."

First -The LORD will NEVER move HIS church to a change that goes against the WORD HE has already printed - NEVER.

SECOND - We are his soldiers and we are NOT to allow changes that are against HIS word. If we stand by and let the lost become the leaders then we are as guilty as they are. Anyone who is deliberately, perpetually and arrogantly disobedient to GOD is lost. Any one. Baptized or not.

I'll not have my children and wife attend church anywhere that the absolute truth and nothing but the truth is observed, practiced and taught.

Make no mistake - I am not speaking of perfection or a lack of guilt. I am speaking of GOD's truth being the 100% desired goal. Seeking perfection in ourselves and others is guaranteed to fail. We can never be perfect BUT we can relentlessly pursue perfection and that's what teaching the absolute one and only truth is.

Members of the church of Christ, who want to add to what is written or take away from it, regardless of their reason, motivation, or influence need to repent,leave, or be asked to leave.

There are so many other religions that do any or all of these other things that they want, they don't need to cause dissension in the church of CHRIST by staying where they are - just leave.

I am a fifth generation member of the church yet I do not know the truth to be what it is because of this. I rebelled to the church's teaching believing that other religions had to be right too.

So until I was 24 years old I attended and even became a member of other religions and reluctantly, at 24 years old, walked into the church of Christ building because I knew that they taught the truth. EVERY other place I went did not.

The simple way to test the truth in any situation is:
1. ask a spiritual question
2. if the answer is "I believe" or "we believe" they have just told you that the answer is man's answer and not GOD's.
3. If the answer is GOD says and they are scripture and let you discern the truth for your self, then you now that they are at least seeking the truth.

If they cannot substantiate what they say by backing it up with scripture that say what they say - it cannot be the truth. It is that simple. GOD has not made HIS word so confusing that the average person cannot understand it. Any one can read the truth and know it's truth if GOD is their Father. This is JESUS words not mine.

John 8 47 "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

In summation - my point and I believe Tim's point is - there is only one truth - GOD's truth. AND we, HIS children know this, accept this and as HIS children we must insist upon this.

Given the opportunity we will love, pray, and work with any who does not understand - to understand. BUT in the end if they do not understand - we must fall upon the truth - once again John 8 47 "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

If they are not GOD's child they can only be the devils and the devil wants to drag the rest of GOD's children away from GOD. We are required to tell the devil to depart and this also goes for HIS children.

Do not be deceived - there is only one truth, one GOD, one Savior - JESUS - so there is only one way. GOD's way. I am writing a book entitled
" GOD's Word is Not Subject to Interpretation" - it is subject to understanding, acceptance, and obedience.

Enforcement of the truth can offend - many things JESUS said offended people. Once again the offended people were not GOD's children.

The truth is Dave - those of us who are GOD's children are fed up with those who want to pervert GOD's word. We want them to get in line or quietly go away. We are willing to acknowledge their right to believe what they believe. In return, they must let us believe what we believe and leave us as they found us. Living in GOD's truth.

I love GOD and If I have said anything HE disapproves of, I ask HIS forgiveness and all others that I have sinned against.

Sincerely,
Chuck W

To All Christians - "A Little Less Conversation and a Little More Action Please" quote from Elvis Presley 1971
Hmm...'other than the basics...a lack of love.'

Perhaps Mr. Waddey doesn't grasp that love is a (if not the) basic characteristic of Christianity. Let's look at a couple of the author's points:

f. Musical instruments not authorized. Actually, they aren't mentioned in association with Christian assemblies. Neither are song leaders, located preachers, song books, or 4-part harmony. Simply because they are not mentioned does not mean they are not authorized.

i. Deacons assist elders. Actually, they serve the congregation. Assisting elders is an inference from our understanding of Scripture. Deacons actually assist the congregation.

j. Preachers preach. And they are normally required to teach a class or two, visit the sick, print the bulletin (also not mentioned in Scripture).

k. The congregation members....These folks also preach from time to time.

m. Adding to the Word of God is sin. Yes, but we must first deduce what constitutes adding to the Word.

n. Worship service format. Actually there is no format prescribed in Scripture. There are some assembly activities mentioned, but no format.

o. The two greatest commands. Here Waddey seems to remember that love has something to do with Christianity. It is hard however to square this apparent understanding with comments like: 'we are fed up' and 'get in line.' Or perhaps the insinuation that folks that differ from him are 'deliberately' and 'arrogantly' changing the Word of God.

Dave's point was that he 'did not come among you.' He was born into the church of Christ much like Mr. Waddey was (I suppose). Why is it that Dave must leave and not Mr. Waddey?

There are a couple foundations of the church...Jesus and the apostles, if we want to call things by Bible names. The other stuff above have not been called the foundations of the church. Therefore, those who may want to change these things are not seeking to change the foundation of the church or God's truth - necessarily.

It is interesting that Waddey's mark of a church he would attend would be that they let you discern the truth for yourself. Why would Waddey want that courtesy extended to him, but not want others to have that same courtesy?

His closing statements suggest that he may have sinned in writing his note, but that he expects God to forgive him for that. Wouldn't God also forgive others for doing something, based on their discernment of Scripture, but which was incorrect? If Waddey expects that consideration from God, he must extend the same to those that reach conclusions different from his.

H.Roberson



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