In the Beginning
Jordan, Ontario, Canada
To the Editor
With this issue of Truth Magazine a special section begins on the work of Christ in Canada. It is most gratifying to have this opportunity made available to the Canadian work by those evangelists responsible for this publication. In this broad country to the north much is still to be done and this is one means of filling a need and accomplishing a work that is yet unfinished. For the invitation to head this column on Canada and be responsible for its content may I express a sincere thanks to brother Cecil Willis.
To Canadian Readers
In March many Canadian families received Truth Magazine for the first time. Since you may not be familiar with the magazine a few words of explanation are appropriate. From the beginning Truth has been published primarily with the Christian in mind. The articles are designed for you and therefore the material in our own section will also follow this line of presentation. You may expect to read articles on any subject God has revealed to His people and these will emphasize current conditions.
Although I have not had an opportunity to become too familiar with the history of the Restoration Movement in Canada, it is very evident that it has been most eventful and colorful. Where we stand today depends to some extent on what has gone on before our time. When it will help to understand the present we will present events from the past.
These pages will cover a variety of subjects, news items and clippings of current interest. A large majority of these will deal directly with scriptures relating to the conditions within the Lord's body today. Read them with honesty and a willingness to investigate the truth on these matters for yourself. Questions and any comments you may wish to make will always be welcomed.
The United States Readers
Prom past personal experience and from comments by others, I know that many of you have little knowledge of the size and growth of the churches in Canada. We welcome this opportunity to enlighten you with an insight into the condition of the churches here with the hopes of encouraging your interest in this area of labor. I expect some of you may be surprised to know that Canada is not a "Frontier" with only a recent and brief history connected with the Church. In fact, in the first half of the nineteenth century Alexander Campbell was here at Jordan and preached to a group of disciples.
In Canada today the virtues and problems within the churches are basically the same as in other places with which you are more familiar. Changes seem to occur slower than in many areas in the States and this is amply confirmed by the digression of the last century. This today has a great advantage because it provides an opportunity for more discussion upon disagreements in a better atmosphere.
It is the sincere hope of those who will be writing these articles that you will enjoy these pages and be benefited by the teaching sent your way from north of the border.
What to Expect
Inherent in this opportunity for teaching is the continual responsibility to those whom it will effect. This involves the editor and staff of Truth; the readers, all of whom it is intended to influence for good; and those whose convictions are involved in the context of the material presented. You will expect us to be truthful, fair and considerate in material and presentation. This expectation will be met gladly. To present articles each month that will be scriptural, constructive, and current in application will be our endeavor. A special effort will be put forth to guarantee this to all concerned. But to be more specific, here in detail is what you can expect each month. These articles will be (1) Scripturally supported, (2) Plain and to the point. (3) Presented with conviction and in an attitude of humility.
I may ask, "Who does not claim scriptural support for what he believes and practices?" Your answer may be, "No one." Yet, when religious divisions exist in the world and within the Church does everyone have it? This answer is obvious. There is a vast difference between claiming scriptural authority and having it. Peter wrote, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God " (I Peter 4:11). We are little concerned with human wisdom and logic, philosophies and principles of God stated in the words of men. In fact, no principle exists that cannot be based upon clear scriptural statements. This being true, if we give the scriptures, the principles take care of themselves.
When it is stated that scriptural support will be given on these pages the simple meaning is this: there will be given a command of God for this age from the New Testament, or an approved example that you can read in the New Testament Scriptures, or a teaching necessarily inferred from a statement in the Scriptures. Regardless of which is used to establish authority today, a statement must be produced from the New Testament before it can be taught as the doctrine of Christ. Remember, John wrote, "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, bath not God" (II John 9). We make this promise to you now and will continue to fulfill it.
To the Point
There is no better way to confuse people than to "beat around the bush" and then leave it up to the reader to draw whatever conclusion he wishes. Paul wrote these words of the revelation of the New Covenant, "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech . . ." (II Corinthians 3:12). Jesus revealed Himself with such completeness He can be just in condemning to eternal destruction those who do not believe on Him as the Son of God. The same is equally true of the Church in which both Jews and Gentiles must be found to be saved. If this supreme revelation of all ages came to us with such clarity, we have no choice but to contend for and defend it in the same way. This we will do.
Attitude - Befitting
In Ephesians 4:1-3 the Spirit revealed the manner in which we must respect other Christians if we are to have the " . . . unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." Times of unity and peace produce some of the fondest memories of past associations. How easily it can be destroyed and souls alienated from one another! This might well result from a failure to observe these three verses. We have no axe to grind nor bone to pick and what is presented will be given in conviction and humility. It is not difficult to disagree with someone and blame the disagreement on the other's attitude. I will never defend the way in which you take my attitude but I will defend the truth of what is said and the attitude in which it was said. This is all any writer can do.
These three things we promise to do in writing these articles and presenting them to you. We hope you will maintain the same desire and attitude in reading them.
Christ Paid for Unity
When followers of Christ have a genuine desire for unity, there is no force in heaven or on earth that can divide them. The converse is also true. For where Christians do not sincerely care for oneness, there is no force in existence strong enough to produce it.
Basically, the question resolves to this: Do you really want unity or is all this talk in the past "much ado about nothing?" If you do want to see it exist, what price are you willing to pay?
In Matthew 19 the rich man wanted salvation and there is no question about his sincere approach. He would have enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing it was his. When, however, the price was asked, he was not willing to pay it. When you shop for merchandise that is fairly priced, your desire for it is determined by your willingness to pay the price. Though it may be something you need greatly, it is evident you do not really want it when you are not willing to pay your part.
Apply this to the seeming quest for unity among God's people now. Do you wish it existed like the rich man wished for salvation or do you want unity as sincerely as Christ wanted you to have it? Take a look at His life and see.
Left Heaven to Bring It
One specific purpose for Christ divesting Himself of the glories of Heaven and coming among men was to bring the way of unity. Paul wrote, "he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh" (Ephesians 2:17). From Heaven alone could the world be seen in its true turmoil and it could not reconcile itself for a well of separation existed between men which God, Himself had placed here. God knew the world had to be united to live and Christ came to bring unity. To be a party to division is to defeat the very purpose for which Christ came.
Fought Error That Prohibited It
The great obstacles to unity are the same as the basic causes of division. When these divisive influences are removed unity will naturally result. One of the greatest of these is the body of human doctrines that Christ opposed so vigorously. If one true standard of unity were to exist, all false standards had to be eliminated. Unless the errors were clearly pointed out and put in their place what hope would there be for truth to accomplish its mission of peace and unity? The Son of Man met death because He dared to expose the basic cause of division: human religious tradition. Yet there are those, even today, which vigorously oppose any discussion of these doctrines causing strained relations among God's people. We need to restudy Matthew 15 and 23.
If Jesus fought the errors that prohibited unity and caused division, so must we do defeat division and maintain unity.
He Died to Provide Unity
"But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both one and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby " (Ephesians 2:13-15). "In his blood in his flesh through the cross . . ." Jesus provided for our peace . . . in one body having slain the enmity." When you begin to consider the price for unity, think of this one. Jesus considered its worth and gave his answer from the cross.
Sent Spirit to Reveal It
We are talking about unity; a unity that can exist only if there is one foundation upon which it can rest. The Holy Spirit revealed this foundation and when it was completed it was to produce "one faith" (Ephesians 4:5). In John 17 Christ prayed for unity immediately after He had stated that He would send the Spirit to reveal the way through "all truth" (John 16:13). To prove that Christ personally had a part in this we cite John 15:26 and these words: "But when the comforter will come, whom I will send unto you from the Father he shall bear witness of me "
He Commanded It Be Maintained
Are you familiar with I Corinthians 1:10? The Spirit says, "Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment." In II Corinthians 13:11 we are charged, ". . . be of the same mind; live in peace . . ." These charges could be made only if the possibility of such unity existed. Those destroying it are to be marked (Romans 16:17), and are charged with carnality (I Corinthians 3:1).
What Will You Pay?
A candid look at the life of Jesus shows His interest in unity. His price was supreme because He valued it more than life itself. Now, in this day when men are searching for it, what are you willing to pay that the prayer of Christ be fulfilled among us? Christ was willing to give up a life. Are you willing to give up an opinion? After all, the practices within the Church today that are hampering unity are admitted to be matters of judgment, by those practicing them, and not matters of faith. What a small price to pay to have that for which Christ left Heaven and for which he died.
Truthfully, how much do YOU want unity?
Truth Magazine VIII: 7, pp. 5-7 April 1964