An Uncertain Sound!

By Raymond E. Harris

In 1 Corinthians 14:7-8, Paul makes an interesting observation. He wrote, “And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

The Restoration Movement (a move to restore First Century Christianity) in this country was founded upon the principle of “speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent.” Everyone was encouraged to “call Bible things by Bible names.” Hence, members of the church of Christ were easily identified as they spoke only of Bible doctrines and used only Bible terms.

However, today it is evident that many congregations that still call themselves “Churches of Christ” have outgrown the basic principles upon which they were founded. Their preachers, elders and teachers abound with uncertain sounds that make them indistinguishable from their religious groups round about.

Item: It is reported that an elder in this area recently said that after reading a book written by James D. Bales, he believes it is alright for divorced non-Christians to remarry, regardless of the cause of the divorce. We would suggest that our brother lay aside the book by Bales and take up again the book of God. Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 still teach the same as they have for 2,000 years. Some way I still prefer the word of God’s Son over that of even a Ph.D.

Item: It is reported that a preacher in this area recently said that basic obedience of the gospel (faith, repentance, confession and baptism) is what is really important. That matters such as the use of instruments of music in worship are matters of opinion and would not effect one’s soul salvation! What happened to the proposition that “we walk by faith” and “faith cometh by hearing the word of God.” Where is the verse in the New Testament with a command, example or inference of instrumental music in the worship of God’s Church.

Item: Apostate churches of Christ not only have a sponsoring church to oversee their “exhibit” at the Knoxville, TN World’s Fair, but they also have formed another Missionary Society type organization known as “Churches of Christ Exhibit” through which people can buy their Fair tickets and the society will make a commission. Now that’s a strange sound indeed! All this time I have understood that members of churches of Christ believed that in view of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, churches were to receive funds only from a free-will offering taken on the Lord’s Day. But on second thought, I suppose that verse would not apply to a “Churches of Christ Exhibit” Missionary Society. But, again what ever happened to the conviction that the scriptures justify no organization larger or smaller than the local congregation through which God’s work is to be done?

Item: Some unlearned and untaught now suppose it is possible to wag the Lord’s Supper all over town to be taken by one here and there. What a strange thing to do in view of New Testament teaching that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed “when ye come together therefore into one place. . .” (1 Cor. 11:20, 33). If we could take the Lord’s Supper here and there, why couldn’t we all just stay home and sing, pray, give and commune? (Wonder if they will also sing, pray and give in each place where they try to serve the Lord’s Supper?) What ever happened to the understanding that Saints assemble to worship and those that cannot assemble are excused?

Item: Some brethren cannot decide whether to call it a “Family Life Center,” a “Fellowship Hall” or the “Education Building” but they all use them for the same things. You know, parties, suppers, pitch-ins, reunions, anniversaries and showers. Do you ever recall seeing a verse where the New Testament Church ever provided facilities for such or planned and promoted such activities?

We could go on and on with such illustrations but I think these will suffice. In the Old Testament when God’s people apostatized and took up with the Gentiles, it is said they spoke the language of Ashdod. In other words their speech was a mixture of Hebrew and the Gentile languages. They were rebuked and commanded to be pure in speech and practice.

Today we see history repeating itself as we see many former citizens of God’s kingdom forming a new breed of Samaritans. And as in days of old, their treachery cannot be hidden. Their speech exposes them for what they are! Woe be to the Shepherds of Israel!

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 8, p. 236
April 21, 1983