"Is the Church of Christ Really the Church of Christ?" (II)
Donald P Ames
(We continue our review of the tract by the above title written by Jim B. Miller, a minister of the First Assembly of God in Brenham, Tex., who also claims to have formerly been a member of the body of Christ-1 Jn. 2:19).
16. That musical instruments in public worship is a violation of Scripture. If Mr. Miller thinks there is no passage to defend this teaching, it is quite obvious he never understood the teachings of the word of God to begin with, and that in less than one year he did not progress "long enough" to ever learn what we actually do believe. Since there is no authority for their use, they stand condemned under 2 Jn. 9, 1 Jn. 3:4, 1 Cor. 4:6, Matt. 15:8-9, etc. Paul notes this argument in Heb. 7:14 in pointing out Christ could not be a priest on earth (Heb. 8:4) since he was not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah, "with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests." Silence did not authorize (see also Lev. 10:1-2). Since he claims to have learned more, maybe he can show us the authority for their use today.
17. That it is a violation of Scripture for a church to be called anything else other than "the Church of Christ." Again his ignorance of what we actually believe is showing. The N.T. church is referred to in a number of different terms, such as "my church" (Matt. 16:18), "the church of God" (2 Cor. 1:1), "the household of God" (1 Tim. 3:15), "the kingdom" (Col. 1:13, Rev. 1:9), etc., in addition to being the body (church) of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23, Rom. 16:16). Since Christ is its head, savior, purchaser, foundation, and it is his bride, it logically follows that it should bear his name or one so designated by him (Col. 3:17) and so should his followers (I Pet. 4:16). Such reflects the glory to God and not to men and human actions as does denominationalism. The calling of ourselves after human names was condemned by Paul in 1 Cor. 1:10-13.
18. That one must affiliate with the "Church of Christ" denomination in order to be a true Christian. If such a denomination exists (begun by Alexander Campbell or any other man), no true Christian can be in such and please God who disapproves of denominationalism and division (Gal. 5:19-21). On the other hand, one cannot be pleasing to God, do His will, worship as He prescribes, and get to heaven without being a part of His body or church. The churches of men are a clear affront to His very will (Matt. 15:8-9, 13). We find in Acts 2:47 that the Lord adds to the church those who are saved, and 1 Cor. 12:13 points out we are "baptized into one body" (see also Eph. 2:16). Thus, upon obedience to his will, we are automatically added to His body by Him-that which He promised to build (Matt. 16:18), over which He is the head (Eph. 1:22), which He died upon the cross to purchase (Acts 20:28), and the only institution He has promised to save (Eph. 5:23). No one can be a true Christian and not be a member of the body of Christ because being one is equated with being in the other. Again, Mr. Miller does not know what we actually believe, and perhaps this is why he claims to be an "Ex-Campbellite." He never was a true Christian at the beginning, but merely following the teachings of men rather than the word of God, and as such, never comprehended the true nature of the body of Christ.
19. That elders are chosen by election or function in any other office than that of preaching and teaching God's Word. If Mr. Miller thinks all there is to being an elder is to run for a political election, he evidently has not read the qualifications set forth in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1. That the office of an overseer, presbyter, bishop, or elder involved more than just preaching the word is evident from 1 Pet. 5:13, Heb. 13:17, 1 Tim. 5:17, Acts 20:28, etc. To oversee inherents within it authority, just as to rule does, yet such must be done according to the will of God and not to suit their own fancies. Paul recognized this office in Phil. 1:1 and many other passages. And, if all their work is in just teaching and preaching, one is made to ask why must they be married and have children (read 1 Tim. 3:5)? Paul was authorized to preach, but he did not have to have these qualifications, hence the two are not the same office (note that they are treated separately in Eph. 4:11 as well-"pastors" are elders). Again, Mr. Miller's lack of understanding is evident.
20. That the Gift of Tongues ceased in the Apostolic Age (1 Cor. 13:8, 12: 1 Jn. 3:2; 1 Cor. 1: 7-8). Why just the "Gift of Tongues"? Why not all the gifts mentioned in Mark 16:17-18? It is interesting to note Mr. Miller refers to 1 Cor. 13, and does not call attention to verses 8-10. Paul here shows that when that which is perfect is come (the completed revealed will of God-James 1:25), there was to be no more need for partial revelations, prophecies, etc. Hence the futility of quarreling over who was going to get to employ what gift-they were only of a temporary nature to begin with, as the context of the 12th through 14th chapters reveal. But since the revealed word of God makes us "thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and these things "are written that ye might believe" (Jn. 20:30-31), we affirm the word of God is sufficiently powerful to save the sinner (Rom. 1:16). The miracles were given to confirm that word (Mark 16:20, Heb. 2:4), and once it had been clearly demonstrated to the people to be the word of God, it did not need further confirmation (Gal. 3:15). Thus, the miracles are recorded that we might evaluate all the evidences and be led to believe (Jn. 20:30-31). Furthermore, only the apostles could pass on the ability to perform these miracles (Acts 8:14-15), and since the apostles have ceased and thus there is no longer a transmitting power in the world today, then the powers ceased also, in confirmation with Paul's statement in 1 Cor. 13:8-10.
21. That there was ever an AApostolic Age." In view of the fact Mr. Miller himself used the term in the previous question, it is obvious that this is just a quibble on words. The term, used today in an accommodating way, merely describes the period of time the apostles lived on the earth. This question is about like asking for a passage that mentions "denominations," when all recognize what is clearly under discussion, and serves absolutely no purpose but to take up space.
22. That healing for the sick (James 5:14-16) in answer to prayer is not valid today. This is merely a repetition of the question under point No. 20.
23. That physical healing for the church is not a part of Christ's atonement (Matt. 8:16, 17; Isa. 53:4, 1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:4 and Matt. 8 have nothing to do with our atonement. The word atonement simply means "reconciliation," and was accomplished by the death of Christ on the cross (Rom. 5:10-11). While the miracles demonstrated Christ to be the Son of God (Jn. 10:25), they were not used as part of the plan of God to reconcile men to him throughout eternity, but rather Isa. 53:10 points out that by the death of Christ we shall be saved from our sins. The context of 1 Pet. 2:24 shows the same application, just as does Psalm 41:4 and Matt. 13:15. That healing of the physical body was not part of the atonement of Christ is seen by such passages as James 5:14-16, 2 Tim. 4:20, 1 Tim. 5:23, 2 Cor. 12:8-9, Phil. 2:27, etc. Thus we see I Pet. 2:24 is carrying the same message as Matt. 26:28, and not dealing with physical healing (nor so quoted in Matt. 8 either).
24. That Christ does not heal today. This point has been thoroughly dealt with under No. 20 and 23.
25. That the Gifts of the Spirit enumerated in I Cor. 12:810 are not operational today. This is a repetition of the same question again. We might just pause here and ask Mr. Miller, in turn, what evidences he can produce to show his alleged "miracles" today are any more authentic than those used by other sects whom he would brand as "false"? Is God today confirming (conflicting) doctrines other than that which He confirmed to be His divine truth in the word of God?
26. That the Bible teaches more than one "law of pardon." To answer this question, one must first of all determine what is under consideration. The alien sinner is given plain instructions what he must do to be saved (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16). However, in Acts 8 we find a man who has already complied with those terms (8:13), and then became guilty of sin. Does he have to be re-baptized every time he becomes guilty of sin? Does Christ have to be re-crucified that his blood might be shed again for every Christian (Heb. 7:27)? The blood of Christ can serve its purpose, and so can baptism. Thus, the Christian is not told to be re-baptized, but to repent and pray God (Acts 8:22, I John 1:9).
27. That there are no longer apostles and prophets in the ministry (Eph. 4:11-16). These were to abide until we attained the unity of "the faith" (4:13), which has reference to the completed will of God (Jude 3, Gal. 3:25-27), at which time all prophecies were to cease (1 Cor. 13:8-10). Since apostles were eye-witnesses of the resurrection and personally familiar with Christ (Acts 1:21), we know they do not exist today since none are eye-witnesses. Paul mentions he was born "out of due season" (1 Cor. 15:8), and also that such required the signs of a true apostle to have to be done by him on many occasions to prove he was such (2 Cor. 12:12), and he was indeed an eye-witness even during the life of Christ. None today can fulfill that role, hence we know they no longer exist.
28. That to be `filled with the Spirit" means to be `filled with the Word of God. " Like so many other Pentecostals, Mr. Miller sees "filled with the Spirit" and it just automatically means one being "baptized" with the Holy Spirit to him. Yet, in Eph. 5:18 we are told to be "filled with the spirit," and in the parallel passage found in Col. 3:16 we are told, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you." Thus we see in this instance the "word of Christ" is equated with being "filled with the spirit." Again, we offer him the following to also ponder: If being "filled with the spirit" always means being "baptized," how do you account for Luke 1:15, 41, 67-all three of which were before the baptism of the spirit was ever promised?
29. That the elect were not chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4, 2 Tim. 1:9). This is a play on words, as Mr. Miller obviously does not mean the same thing the Bible is talking about. It is true we are elected and called in Christ before the foundation of the world, but that was accomplished, not by the modern day doctrine of Predestination as advanced by John Calvin, but through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:13-14). God does not want any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:4, Acts 10:34), and thus has not already condemned specific individuals to Hell, but has predestinated that all who obey His gospel (thus are "in Christ"-Eph. 1:3) shall be saved. Thus we find Bible predestination is dealing with the class of men rather than the specific individual in the mind of God. If Mr. Miller means what he affirms here, he might as well quit preaching the gospel, forget about right and wrong, and go his own way. After all, if God has "elected" him, he cannot be lost regardless of what he may do; and if not, he cannot be saved regardless of how much he might desire it. This makes a mockery of the very death of Christ on the cross (Jn. 3:16).
30. That Christ was not the Head of the Church before Pentecost. The reply to that is found in Eph. 1:20-23, which shows Christ was made the head at the time God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand. Note also that the church is in the future tense prior to Pentecost (Matt. 16:18, 16:28, Mark 6:l, Acts l:8), and in the past tense afterwards (Acts 2:47, Col. 1:13, etc.) Thus we find the death of Christ purchased it (Acts 20:28) that he might reconcile all men unto God through it (Eph. 2:16). Also, if it existed prior to the death of Christ, it was in existence without His will to govern it (Heb. 9:15-17).
Challenges to Mr. Miller
Without being repetitious and detailed, we now pose just a few simple pointed questions to Mr. Miller which, if he examines them in the light of God's word, will show him who is teaching the word of God. Please find for us:
1. One passage that says one is saved by "Faith only" (Jas. 2:24).
2. One passage where Christ or the apostles ever commanded anyone to be baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5; 10:47-48).
3. One passage that talks about both baptism and' salvation in which one is said to be saved before and without baptism (Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Pet. 3:21, Mark 16:16, Rom. 6:37).
4. One passage where instruments of music were used in the worship of the N.T. church (Eph. 519, Col. 3:16, 2 Jn. 9).
5. One passage setting forth qualifications for an apostle of today (Acts 1:22).
6. One passage justifying a state or national board to oversee the work of the church today (Eph. 1:20-23, 1 Pet. 5:1-3, Phil. 1:1, Acts 14:23).
7. One passage authorizing the existence of a human creed (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Gal. 1:6-8).
8. One passage that says Christ failed to do the job God gave him to do (Jn. 17:4, Dan. 2:44-45, Matt. 16:28, Col. 1:13, Heb. 12:28, Rev. 1:9).
9. One passage that says Christ will ever set foot on the earth again (2 Pet. 3, 1 Cor. 15:24-26).
10. One passage that says God will save a man who does not obey him (2 Thess. 1:8, Heb. 5:9, Acts 6:7, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16).
I believe these questions will readily reveal Mr. Miller not only never learned the truth of God's word, but while still "learning," became entangled again in the ways of the world and turned back to "believe a lie." We pray this review will assist those running into his material, and perhaps Mr. Miller himself, in finding the true church of Christ revealed in the pages of God's sacred writ.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:30, p. 9-11