SOME “DEFENSES” OF DENOMINATIONALISM
Roger D. Campbell
The existence of denominationalism is one of the greatest
plagues in the history of mankind. It robs the Lord of the glory
that He is due in His church (Eph. 3:21). Denominationalism, with
all of its many different groups wearing different names and
teaching different messages, causes great confusion in the minds of
many people. Such confusion is not from the Lord, you can be sure
of that (1 Cor. 14:33).
Denominationalism has many supporters. Let’s consider
some of the more common arguments people sometimes use in an effort
to defend denominationalism. Why do they think it is alright?
1) “It is good that there are so many
churches/choices to choose from, because different people have
different tastes.” Sometimes it is said this is like
choosing a car or a mate (husband/wife), the variety is a plus.
Answer: Remember that illustrations don’t prove
anything. They simply are a way of using a “for instance”
in order to try and show by illustration what we are saying.
In the spiritual realm, something is “good” only
if it is God’s way (1 Thess. 5:21,22). We must be careful and
not make an appeal to what men like (their “tastes"), or to
what appears to be good. Saul of Tarsus thought it was good to do
many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, but he was
sincerely wrong (Acts 26:9; Prov. 16:25)!
The major problem with this reasoning (having more
“churches” is good cause it makes for more choices) is
this: the New Testament plainly declares there is only one body,
one church (Eph. 4:4; 1:22,23; 5:23-26; Matt. 16:18)! In the New
Testament, there is no concept of “many different
denominations.” Men might defend their man-made denominations,
but they just aren’t in the Bible. That is a fact.
2) “The Bible speaks about ‘churches’
(plural) being in existence in the first century. If it was right
to have many churches then, then it is right now.” Romans
16:16 and other verses that mention “churches” are appealed
to with the idea being that these “churches” were different
Answer: The “churches” (Gal. 1:2; 1 Thess. 2:14)
were simply congregations of the Lord’s church in different
localities. They followed the same doctrine, taught the same
message, and worshipped in the same manner. They simply were
located in different places. It is a matter of historical record
that Paul could not have been referring to modern denominations in
any New Testament passage because no denominations existed at the
time he wrote!
3) “We are all going to the same place (heaven),
we are just going by different roads. Just like you can travel many
roads to a major city (like Atlanta), so there are many roads you
can take and still end up in heaven. A person can get to heaven in
Answer: Again, illustrations do not prove whether
something is right or wrong, they simply demonstrate what a person
is trying to express.
While it is true there are a number of different roads one
can travel and still end up in Atlanta, consider this: If Jehovah
had designated what road He wants us to take in our effort to get
to Atlanta, would we not be obligated to take that road and do what
He said in order to please Him? Of course we would. What about
this: Isn’t Jesus Christ the only way of salvation? He said
Himself that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If
Jesus is “the way” to the Father in heaven, then that
excludes all other ways or paths! Man made Atlanta and made many
roads to enter it. However, God made heaven and made only one road
to enter it (cf. John 10:1).
There is only one “doctrine of Christ” in which
we must abide (2 John 9). One who abides in that teaching has the
Father and the Son. The person that goes beyond that doctrine does
not have God. Who said? God did (2 John 9).
The book of Acts shows there is only one “way” of
salvation (Acts 9:2; 16:17; 19:9,23). Note also the wording of 2
Peter 2:2,15 in which we read of “the way of truth” and
“the right way.” Who is it that told us there is one way of
truth -- the one right way? God Himself.
No, there are not many roads that will take one to heaven.
The road to heaven is through Jesus the Christ, the Gospel of
Christ, the church of Christ (Eph. 3:6).
4) “Jesus taught that He is the vine and
different denominations are the branches” (John 15:5).
Answer: Yes, Jesus did say, “I am the vine, and ye are
the branches.” But where in the context of John 15 do we read
about “denominations?” Neither the word itself nor the
concept of denominations is within 260 chapters (the number of
chapters in the New Testament) of Jesus’ statement!
Jesus said in verse six, “If a man abide
not in me, he is cast forth as a branch....” Jesus
said “man” and “he,” not a “denomination.”
Besides that, Jesus was speaking to and about individual disciples,
not denominations: “without me ye can do
There were no denominations in existence at the time Jesus
made this statement, so He could not have been talking to them or
about them. Jesus was speaking about those that are “in”
Him. Denominations are not in Christ. Thus, John 15, like all the
other arguments we have considered, gives no support for the
existence of even a single denomination.
5) “Paul said there is one body with many members
(1 Cor. 12:20). The ‘members’ are the various denominations
of our day.”
Answer: The context clearly shows who these
“members” are. Compare what is said in verse 27, it shows
that “ye,” i.e., those to whom Paul was writing, were
“members in particular” (members individually). The
question then becomes: “To whom was Paul writing?” Answer:
The church of God in Corinth (1:2). Thus, the “members” of
12:20 were the individual members of the church.
Romans 12:4-6 also makes it plain that the “many
members” are individual saints. In that passage Paul writes of
“we” and “us.” To whom was Paul writing? Answer: To
“saints” in Rome (1:7), not denominations. Paul could not
have been referring to modern denominations because none existed at
the time he wrote this epistle.
6) “How could so many intelligent, well-educated
people that are part of and support denominationalism all be wrong?
Look at all the good commentaries such people have written. They
can’t all be wrong.”
Answer: It truly is perplexing that “intelligent,
well-educated people” can be deceived, but they can. Saul of
Tarsus was certainly well educated, but he was sincerely wrong in
his religious activities.
Throughout history, many “intelligent, well-educated
people” have been drawn into inappropriate activities or
teachings. Consider the Germans that followed Hitler, the
professors at Harvard and elsewhere who declare that godless
evolution is the right explanation of man’s origin, or the
millions that do not even believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
Make no mistake about it. Satan is able to deceive great
multitudes because he is so slick, causing his servants to appear
to be the ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). We must be
careful and not use the actions of mere human beings to try and
establish what is right or wrong in God’s sight. Man’s
wisdom cannot stand up to God’s (1 Cor. 1:25; 3:19).
There are other arguments that people use to try and
defend denominationalism. We have considered six of the
“big” ones, and found they all have one thing in common:
they are all lacking in proof! Friends, the Bible gives absolutely
no support to the existence of any denomination.
The Lord Jesus said, “Every plant which my heavenly
Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt.
15:13). May God help us to see this truth and boldly declare it to
those who are mired in the doctrines and organizations of men.
4865 Bates Pike SE
Cleveland, TN 37323
Table of Contents
I’M WEARY OF THE OLD PATHS!
Fight satan, not your brothers! Don’t fret that somebody
shoots left-handed because you shoot right. Don’t grieve the
Holy Spirit. You do not know him and have a typical Church of
Christ conversion. You need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Micro analysis of the scripture takes away the passion. All Christ
wants is your passion, because he uses passionate people.
I truly wish you knew the Lord (1 John 2:3). You can KNOW
the Truth and the Truth will make you free (John 8:32). But, you
must learn and obey it first (Heb. 5:8-9). As long as you hang on
to sectarianism, denominationalism, opinionism, emotionalism,
you’ll be hindered in knowing and obeying the Truth.
How many baptisms in your church, in the last 2 months?
I don’t have a church. The Lord does. I’m a member
Can you give me “book, chapter and verse”
regarding your question? Does the answer to that question somehow
affect the Truth, obeying it, being faithful or being saved? What
relation do baptisms have to do with loving the Truth, holding to
the Truth? I fail to see the point. If I personally baptized 3 in
the last 2 months, would that mean I was right with the Lord? If I
baptized 8, would I “then” be right with the Lord? If I
baptized 15, 32 or even 50, would that make me even better with the
Lord? If I have not personally baptized anyone in the last 2
months, does that make me unfit for the Lord? Is there a quota
somewhere in the Scriptures I’ve missed? Does the number of
people that are baptized somehow relate to one’s faithfulness
to the Lord? Does it prove anything one way or the other? There are
multitudes of baptisms performed every day that are useless and
make the recipients thereof “twofold more the child of
hell” because they have been taught false doctrine or their
baptism is not Scriptural.
It seems to me you are judging things concerning me about
which you have no knowledge. Seems like the Lord forbid that
somewhere (cf. Matt. 7:1-5). You are assuming and jumping to
conclusions. You have no idea what I (we) do from day to day, week
to week, etc. The work we do with “Seek The Old Paths” is
only a part of our work. Since we believe strongly in being
balanced, we cannot leave it off and be justified before the Lord.
I’m sure glad I answer to Jesus and not men. He knows all, men
Do you believe men can know the Truth, and know that they
know the Truth?
Do I believe that men can know the Truth, and know that
they know the Truth? Talk about a loaded question. Can man fathom
the mind of Christ? I have to respond that only when we are
standing at his throne in heaven and have been made complete can I
I am weary of “the Old Path.” The conservative
legalistic approach works for you and I am sorry. I have just taken
a step past that into a personal relationship with the Lord and
hate to see anyone struggle with the yoke. We ought not hang out
our dirty laundry for the public to see.
When you are really “down and out,” does the Law
of God (the Bible) sooth you? No. You strive to hear God. God’s
Spirit comes in and soothes your heart. Words like Truth,
Obedience, Denominationalism, Non-Instrumental music, etc.,
The question about knowing the truth comes from John
8:31-32. Jesus plainly said, “IF ye continue in my word,
THEN are ye my disciples indeed and ye shall know the truth and the
truth shall make you free.” I didn’t intend for
anything to be loaded about it. I wanted to simply emphasize the
point that the Lord said we can know the truth. I (or anyone else)
am not left to wonder who is right and who is wrong and that none
of us will know who is saved and who is lost until judgment day.
The Bible can be understood. It was written to be understood (Eph.
3:4). Of course, Peter said there are some things that are harder
to understand (2 Peter 3:16). We are not falsely judging when we
repeat what the Lord said and recognize the application of what he
said. He made the judgment, we simply accept it. Therefore, I (and
you) can see what one does and know whether that complies with what
the Lord said.
I do not relish exposing false teachers who are brethren.
I wish it were not necessary. But again, the Lord said to expose
(Eph. 5:11; Rom. 16:17), and so I do it (even when I don’t
enjoy it). I personally do not like for the public to know members
of the Lord’s church have problems from within. However, they
know we’re human and not all humans are completely devoted to
righteousness and truth as the Lord commands. Some (many) will turn
away from the Lord’s Way (his Word) because they have no
sincere interest in the truth (John 6:66-67). On the other hand,
some will see that we are willing to deal with error and handle it
instead of sweeping it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t
exist among us.
I see that people often misapply so-called
“legalism.” It appears that you think that everyone who
loves the truth and willing to stand on it is a legalist. Is it
legalism to believe that people who do not genuinely believe and
are baptized will be lost (Mark 16:16)? I contend it is not
legalism to obey the Lord. It is not legalism to follow the Word of
God by rightly dividing the truth and making proper application. By
the way, I’d rather be legal than illegal. Hadn’t you? Just
what do you mean by “legalism?” Would you please define
that? Without adherence to the Word of God, it is not possible to
be right (relationship) with the Lord (John 15:14; 1 John 2:3). How
in the world am I going to explain to the Lord that I’d rather
skip and ignore his Word, go beyond that, and have a personal
relationship with him? The ONLY way we know salvation is by obeying
his Word (Matt. 7:21; Heb. 5:9). First John 5:3 clearly says the
love of God is keeping his commandments and his commandments are
not grievous. They are not burdensome. They are not legalistic.
They are not a yoke around our neck. Faithful servants of God do
not struggle with them. Where does such an idea come from?
I don’t know anything about a conservative, legalistic
approach. All I know is what the Lord said. Personally, I may not
like everything he said. But, I don’t have a right to my own
belief. He did not ask me what I thought about it. He simply tells
us what is right and we have to accept it. I did not write the
Bible. I don’t have a right to dismiss what I don’t like.
We are not going through the “dinner line” at a kitchen
where we can pick and choose what we like or what works best for me
or what suits my personality. The Truth is the Truth for everybody.
We either accept it, live by it and are saved or reject it and
remain lost. When we reject it, there’s no other Word from the
Lord. There is no other option to be saved.
I’m not weary of following the Lord. That is
synonymous with following the old paths. The only way we can follow
the Lord is by following his Word. There is no other way of
communication from Jesus but by and through his Word. His way is
the old way. It’s only old in the sense that he is its author.
He gave his word like he wanted it. No man has any right to change
it or dismiss it. Everyone must follow his word, his rule, his law.
I know people don’t like his law -- they don’t like his
rules -- but it is his law that will one day judge us (John 12:48;
Rev. 20:12). It‘s the standard to which all must adhere or
they will never be saved.
The Lord’s law was fervently preached by Jeremiah. He
pleaded with people to seek and follow the “old paths”
(God’s law), but they refused (Jer. 6:16-17), just like many
refuse today. The people of Malachi’s day thought following the
old paths was a weariness (Malachi 1:13). They thought it was
drudgery. They were tired of it. They thought they had grown beyond
obedience to the will of God. How in the world can it be wrong to
follow the Lord’s Way, his Word, his Law, his Commandments, his
old paths? Why would people turn away from Jesus? When one turns
away from Jesus’ law (word, old paths), they are turning away
from Jesus. You can’t have Jesus without his law (John 15:14;
14:15). You can’t have Jesus without his church (he is the
savior of it, Eph. 5:23). You can’t have the peace that passeth
all understanding (Phil. 4:7) without the Lord’s old paths, his
word (Phil. 4:9; Acts 10:36-37; Acts 11:14). His word brings peace,
but only when we have obeyed his will. Peace with God comes after
being justified by faith (Rom. 5:1), but faith comes by hearing
God’s word (Rom. 10:17). You can’t get away from the
Lord’s way, law, commandments, old paths. We wouldn’t even
know about salvation except the old paths telling us about it. The
old paths is the Gospel of peace (Rom. 10:15; Eph. 6:15). How can
you say you’re weary of the old paths? Are you weary of the
Lord’s will, his word, his way, his love?
The old paths brings comfort and peace. How else could
we possibly know of God’s love, his care, and forgiveness
without his word telling us so? All that we know of the Lord, God,
Holy Spirit, etc. etc. comes by and through the old paths. The
Psalmist received comfort through the word of God (Psa. 119:50,
76). Peace and comfort comes through the holy Scriptures, the old
paths (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 14:3).
I pray these words have helped you in your study. Therefore, love the
truth (cf. Zech. 8:19).
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IS CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC SCRIPTURAL?
Adam B. Cozort
Contemporary Christian music is becoming more and more of an
issue among members of the church today, and it’s not just
among young people. There are many adults who also listen to this
music and see nothing wrong with it. What I would like to do is
search for biblical authority to either support or deny the fact
that such “Christian” music is scriptural.
First, let us look at the passages most frequently used
in matters concerning singing. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16
are verses that are the first to come out in almost any discussion
on matters of song and singing. When we look at the context of both
of these passages we see that it not only applies to a worship
setting but outside of that setting as well. As a matter of fact,
the text never even specifically uses terms applying to a worship
service. Though these are most definitely valid passages to use in
reference to singing in the worship service, there is nothing in
the passages to bind that to the worship setting alone. Though
these passages are good and can be used on this topic, we must not
use these passages alone as our basis for consideration.
We need to always keep in remembrance what Paul said in
Colossians 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do
all in the name of the Lord Jesus....” If we are to use
God’s name, it should be in praise to Him. God told Moses in
Exodus 20:7, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy
God in vain.” If we are not using God’s name to His
glory, then is it not vain? I have had friends tell me concerning
“Christian” music, “It’s better than anything else
that is out there.” But is it? Granted, it may not have the
obscene language, or the immoral lyrics, but if we are using
God’s name improperly, is it really any different?
First Corinthians 6:20 says, “For ye are bought
with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your
spirit, which are God’s.” If we have given ourselves
to God, then shouldn’t we do what he has commanded us?
In almost every instance, these “Christian” music
groups will tell that they use their songs to worship God. Even if
that is the case, they are not worshiping God the way God commanded
us to worship Him. As we have already noticed, God has commanded us
to sing, not to sit and listen to a band (Eph. 5:19). By listening
to such music would we not be consenting to their activities? What
is the difference between listening to this music, and going out to
a “gospel” concert put on by denominations and listening to
their groups “worshiping” God?
One purpose of Contemporary Christian Music is to
entertain. I recently saw a television ad for one of their radio
stations whose motto was, “No preaching. No teaching. Just good
Christian music.” If there is not teaching or preaching, then
what else does that leave besides entertainment? The purpose of
worship is not to entertain each other, but to give praise to the
real audience in our worship, our Father in Heaven. If we are
working toward entertaining the people in the pews, then we have
forgotten who is the audience in our worship, and whose acceptance
we are seeking by our worship. I would also say that they evidently
haven’t understood Colossians 3:16, which states that we are to
“teach and admonish one another” with our songs. There is
nothing in that verse nor any of the others that we have looked at
that says anything concerning entertaining each other. There is one
explicit reason for this. Our own entertainment is not the reason
we are to worship. It is to be for the glory of Him that created us
and sent His Son that we might be saved. They are in fact teaching
even if they won’t admit it.
If we want to worship God, and be right in His sight, we
must follow His commands and examples as He has given them to us.
Remember what Christ said in John 4:24, “God is a spirit,
and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in
Is contemporary Christian music scriptural? The answer is
a resounding “NO!” There is no place for man’s
entertainment in our praise to God. God has shown us how He wants
us to praise Him. James 5:13 says, “...is any merry? Let
him sing psalms” (ASV praises).
God has truly given us “...all things that
pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). If we are
willing to follow those things which He has given us, we will never
have to wonder if we have been pleasing in the eyes of our Lord.
844 18th St.
Calera, AL 35040
Table of Contents
POLITICALLY OR BIBLICALLY CORRECT?
Steven D. Cline
While listening to the news some time ago, I learned that
the Crayola Crayon Company no longer feels the name of one of its
colors, “Indian Red,” is appropriate, being afraid that the
title may be offensive. The company wants to be “politically
correct” and is going to change the name. It is the third time
in the crayon company’s history this has been done. In the
early 1960’s “Flesh” became “Peach” and prior
to that, the name “Prussian Blue” was changed because
school children were ignorant as to whom the Prussians were.
Today, we are inundated with the term “politically
correct” and with the concept being such, we are being
conditioned to “tread on eggshells” as it were, lest we
hurt someone’s sensitive feelings with our lack of amenities.
Our society is getting to the point where we are afraid to say or
speak something that may be taken as derogatory. We are told that,
in this age of permissiveness and liberal enlightenment, we must
not be offensive to anyone. Politically incorrect people are
thought, by the New Age intelligentsia, to be crude, uncouth and
socially unacceptable in their primitive Neanderthal blabbering. Of
course, the politically correct people themselves have finesse,
aplomb and social grace. They are quite the discriminating, refined
and cultured souls. (Dear me, I hope I have not upset the
humanists. I should have been politically correct and refrained
from using the word “souls,” something the humanists do not
But what is political correctness? It’s merely an
attitude of mind that is constantly changing depending on the
general mood of the populace and the tenor of the time in which one
lives. It is pragmatic (i.e., whatever works for a given
situation), relative and subjective. What is politically correct
now may not be in the future. Something that is welcome now may not
be at a later time and visa versa. Political correctness is as
unstable as water and as shifting as the desert dunes.
There are those in the Bible whose language would not
be considered acceptable to the ones who are so adamant in being
politically correct. Jesus was not being politically correct when
He referred to Herod as a “fox” (Luke 13:31-32), when he
called the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” (Matt.
23:13ff) and when he warned of false prophets (Matt. 5:15).
(Didn’t Jesus know these disparaging remarks could lead to hurt
feelings and a lowered sense of self-esteem in the ones He spoke
of?) Paul was not being politically correct when he withstood Peter
to the face in Galatians 2:11. John the Baptist was by far too
politically incorrect for the delicate sensitivities of the more
genteel politically correct elite, in his harsh and untactful habit
of calling people vipers (Matt. 3:7), and John the Apostle called
a church troublemaker, Diotrephes, by name, which would cause the
politically correct proponent to gasp in horror... “mustn’t
do that, John. Diotrephes has feelings you know...okay the Golden
Rule, John...live and let live.” Not only that, but all four,
Jesus, Paul, the Immerser and the Apostle John taught on and warned
of Hell...a very politically incorrect subject if ever there was
The Gospel preachers in the early church and the
staunch Old Testament prophets were not afraid of the people to
whom they preached (Acts 20:22-24; Jer. 1:8). Their sermons,
whether positive or negative, always had a positive goal (i.e. to
save souls). Whether the listeners appreciated it or not, the
message was always for their own good and never for their
detriment. But so many today, including preachers, have been
intimidated and/or influenced by the politically correct crowd
insomuch that they modify their words so not to sound so crass.
Therefore, a whore (Prov. 23:27) or a harlot (1 Cor. 6:15) becomes
a “lady of the night,” “call-girl,” or
“playmate of the month.” A soothsayer (Joshua 13:22) is now
a “trans-channeler.” A sodomite (Deut. 23:17) has become a
“gay.” Lying is “fibbing.” Pornography is “art
for the discriminating adult” and fornication is now a
“trial marriage...the new morality,” “living
together,” or “common law marriage.” Adultery is seldom
called that any more (except from behind a faithful pulpit or in a
divorce court). Now it is “an extra-marital affair.”
Cold-blooded murder of the unborn is called “abortion,” or
to make it even more conscience-salving, a “terminated
pregnancy.” Drunkards are now know as “problem
drinkers.” The one true living Jehovah God is often referred to
as “The Force” or a “Higher Power” in order to
accommodate the ones who do not believe in Him. To appease the
Feminists, God is often called “She” or “Mother.”
Some liberal, social gospel, brotherhood of man denominations do
not see militant Christian hymns such as “Onward Christian
Soldiers” as politically correct, so they were removed from the
song books. (Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” so
“war-mongering” songs must be eliminated, you see).
This politically correct influence is even rife among
certain members of the church. In the minds of some, it was not
politically correct to have copies of the bold and uncompromising
speech by H. Leo Boles, “The Way of Unity Between the
Christian Church and Churches of Christ” at the 1984
Summit in Joplin, MO. It was said that brother Bole’s language
was “abusive and crude” and that his tracts would not
“be in the best interests of the meeting.” No wonder! The
“Summit” was held right on the Christian Church’s own
“turf” -- the Ozark Bible College. Some have apologized to
the Christian Church for the likes of Lipscomb and McGarvey.
Apparently it is not politically correct to esteem these valiant
old stalwarts of the faith any longer as faithful Gospel preachers.
And, decades before the term “politically correct” came
into vogue, the concept was alive and well. Witness for instance
when the Firm Foundation, under the editorship of brother
Showalter, refused to print the powerfully pointed articles of the
inimitable J. D. Tant just because some readers found him coming on
too strong for their tastes.
While Christians should never purposely be offensive
to anyone, while we should never try to alienate anyone (2 Tim.
2:24-26), let us remember that we are still to please God and not
man (Gal. 1:10), and we need to speak the oracles of God (1 Peter
4:11), being Biblically correct rather than Politically correct.
PO Box 140214, Nashville, TN 37214
Seibles Road Church of Christ bulletin, 1/16/2000
Table of Contents
THE MUZZLING OF SIN
This writer has preached the Gospel for three decades and
has seen, heard, and observed many things that shook me to the very
core. Disabled for several years now has given me time for serious
reflection. Many preachers are confronted with serious matters of
sin while working with the local church. Suddenly they inform him,
“Just say nothing about the adultery, social drinking,
gambling, the use of drugs and tobacco etc., and in time it will go
away.” Those who advance the idea of ignoring sin or sticking
one’s head in the sand is foreign to the teaching of the Bible
(1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2). Multiple preachers have faced the
dilemma of being muzzled by brethren. To keep silent
about sin in all its variations, will not make one become a faithful minister. All to often influential brethren would
do what they could and use the means at their command to muzzle
preachers and others from shining the light on wrong doing (Psalm
119:105). We need to always ask the question, “is it from God
or Satan?” It does not take a Solomon to evaluate the matter to
decide the answer. God’s real servants must never close their
mouths when Satan parades before the world spouting error while
brethren tolerate it as Gospel (Gal. 1:8-9).
1. We see the muzzling of sin when we sanction fornication
to exist in the church. This writer remembers hearing a preacher
say, “I cannot preach on marriage, divorce, and remarriage,
because we would lose half our congregation.” Some preachers
are muzzled as sin runs rampant when they are faced with the
dilemma of losing their job, big pay check, and fancy home. The
professional preacher has been the outgrowth of this muzzling of
sin. Too many preachers have been transformed into professional
preachers, those who do what they have to do in maintaining their
job. Far too many congregations are, unfortunately, served by those
who look at preaching the Gospel as a job. Elders and
preachers should take a stand for God’s teaching on marriage,
divorce, and remarriage (Matt. 19:3-9). Regardless if it is an
elder’s son/daughter, or someone else of prominence or
notoriety in the congregation. Jesus said, “Ye shall know
the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
We cannot muzzle sin to accommodate those who wish to be
practitioners of fornication or other sin. Peter and the other
apostles were not professional preachers, as they replied to the
council of the Jews, “We must obey God rather than
men” (Acts 5:29).
2. We see the muzzling of sin when they allow rebels to go
unchecked in the church. Rebels are agitators, troublesome, and
will revolt against the leadership of the church. Rebels are
hecklers, dissenters, and are disorderly to the paths of
righteousness, which is sinful (Rom. 1:17; 2 Thess. 3:6). The
prophets of God exhorted the children of Israel repeatedly not to
rebel against God. Moses penned the following words, “Only
rebel not against the Lord...” (Num. 14:9). Rebellion is a
serious sin that causes extreme consequences to those who practice
such. Korah, Dathan, Abiram, the two-hundred-fifty princes, and
others of renown were guilty of rebellion when they questioned the
authority of Moses and Aaron (Num. 16:1-3). The Lord God through
Moses, the following day, instructed the congregation of Israel to
separate themselves from the tents of Korah and his band of rebels.
God consumed the group of rebels with fire as the earth swallowed
them (Num. 16:30-33). The Lord did not muzzle the sin of rebellion,
conversely he showed unequivocally how he felt about such a sin. Is
rebellion any less serious, or perilous to the church today as it
was during the day of Moses?
Acts 5:1-11 reveals a compelling example of two rebels,
Ananias and Sapphira, who lied concerning the contribution they
made to help the poor. Peter said unto them, “...thou hast
not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:4).
Consequently, God struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for their act of
rebellion. Rebels come in different forms and manifest their deeds
in many diverse ways. Rebellion by those against the doctrine of
Christ, is seen with great clarity as these rebels attempt to lead
the congregation away from the truth (2 John 9-11). Some yearn to
be rebel rousers by distracting brethren from doing good and
encouraging them to take an evil path. We have an example in Acts
13:4-12 when Elymas the sorcerer sought to thwart Paul from
preaching the word to Sergius Paulus. This rebel, or troublemaker,
was struck with a season of blindness following Paul’s
reprimand (Acts 13:10-12).
3. We see the muzzling of sin when the church lowers
the bar of fellowship. A serious shift has been seen over the last
decade or two regarding the doctrine of fellowship. This writer and
preacher has seen a dramatic move from basic, fundamental preaching
of the Gospel of Christ, to a reliance upon philosophy, ideology,
and psychology. Twenty-five-years ago while driving down the
highway and listening to a religious broadcast, one could
differentiate the Gospel being preached from an imitation message
of some sectarian. Within fifteen to twenty seconds one could
instantly recognize the difference between the preaching of Christ
and the perpetuating of error.
Today, unfortunately, this is untrue as the broadcasts
from both sides have merged. Many of our brethren, through the
medium of radio, cannot easily be identified due to the bland
message and neutral position they assume. Fellowship with God is
dependent upon our “walking in the light.” John penned
these words, “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus
his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
“Walking in the light” is the equivalent of abiding with,
or subscribing to the doctrine of Christ found in the New
Testament (2 John 9). Some are promoting fellowship with sectarians
by exchanging pulpits with them.
The progression of this act of heresy has incrementally
taken place. Like any other error, it usually takes place over the
slow, steady, passing of time. There has also been a deliberate
softening toward the use of instrumental music in our worship
services (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Surveys have been taken by members
of churches of Christ and the results have been quite shocking to
say the least. Among other things the rank and file members do not
believe it is sinful to see the introduction of the mechanical
instrument in our worship services. Yet, we see the muzzling of sin
when the church lowers the bar of fellowship as it relates to these
matters. A glaring act of lowering the bar of fellowship, and
muzzling sin is the widespread practice of integrating recreation
into the church. A casual glancing of several weekly church
bulletins will quickly attest to this basic practice. Many of us
have said this is the exception and not the rule, however, the very
opposite may be the case today.
Paul wrote the following, “for the kingdom of
God is not eating or drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). In all too many cases
we have ignored the difference between the home and the church. The
home is to provide the social and recreational aspect of the family
development. The church, a spiritual institution, offers salvation,
spiritual food, and exercise through Christ (Acts 20:32; 2:41,47).
Therefore, the church of the Lord is not in the
entertainment business, nor does it have the responsibility to
furnish recreation. The use of the Lord’s money to construct
multimillion dollar Family Life Centers to tantalize and seduce
Christians, especially young people, to play basketball, soccer,
badminton, etc. blinds the church to its divine work. Jesus, in
John chapter six, discovered that many people were following him
only for the loaves and fishes. Jesus underscores the importance of
spiritual food, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye
eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not
life in yourselves” (John 6:53). Many disciples when they
heard these words said, “This is a hard saying, who can
hear it” (John 6:60)? These disciples were stunned by
such a message and reacted, “Upon this many of his
disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John
6:66). Too many today are more concerned about their carnal
appetites, the loafs and fishes, the fun and games provided by the
church, than the spiritual food that is available (Matt. 5:6).
Fellowship with God by incorporating entertainment, trivial
matters, or other frivolous interests into the church will cut us
off from God. Paul said, “Have no fellowship with the
unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”
(Eph. 5:11). We must not muzzle sin unless we are willing to
forfeit our relationship to God.
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Table of Contents
THE VALUE OF TRUTH!
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you
the truth” (Gal. 4:16)?
Some years ago I heard a Gospel preacher say he heard a
younger preacher get up and preach a good sermon in a meeting; but,
then ruined it by getting back up and apologizing for it. He was
afraid of offending someone who still had their “milk
In recent years I have heard what some call sermons in
Gospel meetings that would not offend a member of the most liberal
denomination. I went to one such meeting in Tennessee, and the man
who led the first prayer had more Scripture in his prayer than the
preacher had in his sermon. He was not a member of that
congregation. Personally, I am not in favor of a lot of Scriptures
in a prayer, but this man did; thus, about the only Bible heard was
in that prayer. The truth is, “His sermons would not offend the
What premium do you place on Truth? When I speak of truth,
I do not mean what some call truth; but, I mean “the truth of
the Gospel” (Gal. 2:5,14). What are you willing to give up for
truth? What price will you be willing to pay in this world for
truth? The wise man wrote: “Buy the truth, and sell it
not” (Prov. 23:23). Paul writes that some had become his
enemy because he told them the truth (Gal. 4:16). Jesus was not
crucified because he said: “Consider the lilies of the
field,” but because he warned: “Except ye repent
ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Only God, who will reward all according to their deeds,
knows how many preachers have been fired or mistreated so that they
left to escape the wrath of the “milk drinkers.” And, the
only reason was that they would not compromise the doctrine of
Christ when it did not please some sharp tongued sister who tried
to run the congregation through a son or son-in-law or husband. One
such sister stated in a Bible class that the congregation there had
never fired a preacher. I told her that it might be kinder to just
go ahead and fire a preacher than to treat him in such a way that
he takes his family away on his own. I stayed there three years and
three months, which I was told was the record for longevity there.
She was one of the few [along with her branch of the clan] who made
life miserable for us, and thus contributing to our moving.
Are you willing to give up job security for truth? Will
you break friendships, if necessary, when truth would otherwise be
compromised. Paul was, and so must we if duty demands it. Are we
willing to call a snake a snake? Are you willing to state the truth
on divorce and remarriage? John was, but remember what it cost him!
Are you strong enough in your stand for the truth of the Gospel to
tell religious leaders they have transgressed the laws of God by
their innovations and manmade laws? Jesus was, and even his
disciples rebuked him by saying: “Knowest thou that the
Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?”
Jesus did not apologize because of truth that offended, but he did
tell his disciples to leave the rejecters of truth alone with their
damnable doctrines and deceived disciples.
Brethren, if some do not stand up and condemn innovations
and manmade doctrines, the churches of Christ are heading for
extinction in this county. Of course I will be considered to be
judgmental, but in my judgment, there are probably no more than two
congregations in this county who will stand for truth and oppose
error. And, guess which two congregations in the county are among
the smallest in attendance in the county? Right! Truth is costly!
It cost faithful men their lives in New Testament times. It may not
cost men their lives today, but it will often cost men their
livelihoods. Large congregations who still stand for the Pattern,
and who have Godly elders leading to heaven, are becoming rare
indeed. Preachers and elders must not take their responsibilities
lightly. As one preacher said: “A rootin’ time is
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