By Mike Baggett
There are few things in life as difficult as swallowing one’s pride. That’s what my wife and I had to do when we learned the error of our ways.
On August 10, 1986, my wife and I discussed our future with the liberal church with which I was preaching. Our decision to leave was based on repeated failure to turn the brethren from the error of their ways, after we ourselves had learned the truth.
In March 1986, 1 began a personal study on my own of issues facing the church. There were many things about the liberal church that I had my doubts about since our fleeing denominationalism and being baptized into the Body of Christ. There were certain things about the liberal church that brought back memories of the Baptist church! After all, I wanted the world to know that Christ’s church is different! But it seemed to me that many of the churches were on a head-on collision course with the denominations!
One of the practices that disturbed me is having social meals in our buildings of worship. We never used the building where I preached for this purpose, but almost all the brethren with whom we had fellowship had built their own dining halls! I was teased when I expressed doubts about spending God’s money for such purposes. Some of their elders and men treat the local church treasury as if it was their own! They have their special jokes about the church treasury, but God’s Word, not man’s, distinguishes the use of this money from that of our own bank accounts! My studies soon revealed this truth. There is no way anyone can defend the building of dinner halls, gyms, or camp houses, using only God’s Word! The church treasury is for the work of the Lord, and not for entertaining the brethren!
Soon I reasoned that if I could be wrong about spending God’s money on one thing, I could very well be wrong about another! I spent hours in my study for weeks on end studying about church supported orphan homes, widow homes, and homes for the aged. And do you know what? I found no authority in the New Testament for the system my brethren had created and sought to defend! With the help, and advice of many conservative brethren, I soon stood firmly against institutionalism! I would not teach the congregation until my wife was convinced. Thank God her heart was open unto the truth. Now I could teach the brethren!
For about two months, I labored with the brethren over the issues. After about six weeks, great opposition sprang up. One brother told me, $6you’re sawing on a limb.” This means you are cutting off your own support. I continued to teach in their homes and from the pulpit the doctrine some called of “Satan” and a perverted “man’s theory.” When the men had a special meeting about my “new doctrine,” I knew we would not last long.
I was out of town when they had the meeting. A good friend, and brother, told me when I got home. We had studied the issues together, and even though he seemed convinced of the truth also, he would not speak in my defense. Neither would another brother who had said, “I’ll stand with you if no one else will.” Now I know how Jesus must have felt being deserted of the eleven. In my last meeting with the men, I experienced what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:16, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me.” I can also say, as Paul said in v. 17, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” The men told me again, “Stop teaching your anti doctrine.” They also said, “We don’t won’t to hear about negative things concerning the church; preach on love, good works, or how to live.” I told them I would not stop preaching the issues. My wife and I decided that day to move back to our home town.
With the help of conservative brethren from many congregations we were able to move that week. The letters of love, concern, and support flooded our mailbox! The love of Christ was demonstrated to us when we took our step of faith. I thank God for all the holy brethren we have come to know in the past nine months. We are still very new in the truth. And we look forward to the years we pray to have in continuing to grow, and hopefully teach others the danger of departing from God’s Word. Reader, if you are attending the “mainstream” church, I say this kindly, can you justify with book chapter and verse, “church of Christ” softball teams, dinner halls, camp houses, orphan homes, and church supported colleges?
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 15, p. 457
August 6, 1987