By Harry R. Osborne
An interesting phone call came into my office this week. It seems one of the readers of our weekly newspaper articles recognized his church as the target of our words of admonition about worship. The article said that a church in this town, the name was not stated in order to protect the guilty, had invited a group to come in and pulverize blocks of ice in worship to God. Since he attends that church, our caller recognized that the article had it in mind. At first, he justified the practice by saying it was not a worship service. I referred him to their advertisement which said that it was and asked him to comment. He quickly decided that it was worship and wonderful worship at that in which he could see the Holy Spirit working. Although I would love to have been enlightened upon how one sees the Spirit working in ice cubes, wisdom dictated the need to get to more substantive matters. I asked how the Spirit of God could be active in the message of those whose speech opposed God’s Word. You see, the muscular ice bashers had preached that you need only “accept Jesus as your personal Savior” and you would be saved at the point of that belief. I then talked with him for a good while on what the Bible did teach about salvation.
After repeated admissions that he had no Bible passage upon which to base his thoughts, our caller began to get upset. Soon he took the position that all one needed to do was “love God and all men” and everything else did not matter. Further conversation made it clear that he did not have the biblical definition of love in mind, but a purely emotional “feeling of acceptance. ” When I asked why God would spend so much time in the Bible telling us to do things that did not matter, his answer was astonishing, He said, “All of that doctrine stuff about baptism, worship, and all that other stuff you’re talking about is just garbage! None of that matters at all!” I promise, that is exactly what he said.
I have thought about that statement repeatedly since the call and am still shocked. Can you imagine answering to God for calling doctrine of which he is the author “garbage”? The words of Jesus come to mind in this regard:
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matt. 12:34-37).
There is a reason our words will be called into judgment – they declare the attitudes of our heart. If one does not respect God’s Word in the heart, his speech will show it. Few will go so far as to call it “garbage,” but their lack of respect for it will show in their speech.
With that in mind, it occurs to me that our caller merely took the final consequence in speech of the attitude upon which all of denominationalism is built. They readily admit that they do not strictly adhere to the teaching about and example of the New Testament church. Those who strive to do so are chided as “legalists.” Instead of such stringent “legalism,” they throw away the doctrine of the New Testament and practice their own desires. If they throw away the doctrine of the New Testament for their own desires, do they not in practice consider that doctrine to be “garbage”?
Notice with me for a moment some of the various doctrines of God that men have discarded as garbage:
Inspiration of the Bible: The Bible claims that every Scripture is inspired of God (1 Tim. 3:16-17). Not one single prophecy come by man’s will; all true prophets spake and wrote because the Holy Spirit moved them to do so (2 Pet. 1:21). Many times, the writers did not even fully understand what they spoke because the Spirit was in control of their message (1 Pet. 1:10-12). The Spirit controlled their message even to the point of choosing the very words of that message (1 Cor. 2:10-13). Yet men have thrown this doctrine into their refuse piles as they teach that the Bible is inspired just as Shakespeare was – nothing miraculous. Denominational seminaries are filled with this teaching.
Baptism: Christ said that it is essential for salvation (Mk. 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). The apostles taught that it was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:28; 22:16). The Bible teaches that Christ’s cleansing blood is applied at baptism (Rom. 6:3-7). One is made to be in Christ at the point of baptism, according to God (Gal. 3:27). Yet men have trashed God’s Word for their own thoughts about salvation by “faith only” (cf. Jas. 2:14-26).
The Church: The Bible teaches of only one church which has Christ as its head (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). In all things, that church is to listen to the authoritative instruction of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:1-16; 5:24; Col. 3:17). Its mission is spiritual (Eph. 4:12-16; 1 Tim. 3:15). The only authorized earthly organization of those saved people as the church is a local congregation (Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:17,28). Yet denominationalism has established huge, worldwide organizations to legislate and facilitate work which God never authorized in the New Testament. The biblical pattern has been tossed out, just like a useless piece of garbage!
Righteous Living By Christians: The Bible says that Christians should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world (Tit. 2:12). Children of God should be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). Even the Christian’s attire should manifest the sanctification of his life (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3-6). The disgusting lifestyle of sin which exists in the world ought to be shameful to God’s people (Eph. 5:3-12). Yet most of the denominational world accepts or fails to condemn such sins as gambling, drinking, premarital sex, homosexuality, unlawful divorce and remarriage, foul speech, and a host of others. The denominations organized an ecumenical group called the National Council of Churches. One of its members is the Community Church which advocates and advances homosexuality. They have embraced the sewage of sin while laying waste the Word of God!
Our caller may have expressed it boldly in his upset state, but the denominational world has lived by the principle all along. They have made the doctrine of God the garbage of men! They did it the first time they threw the Word of God with the divine pattern for faith and practice aside and replaced it with their own and Satan’s devices. They continue to do the same thing today. Let all of those unwittingly caught in these churches of men take notice. Those who are charting the path and leading the charge in denominationalism have thrown the book of God away.
That leaves those of us who call ourselves Christians after the pattern of New Testament teaching with a decision. Either we stand up and fight every digression of man that would trash our Savior’s will, or join the junking. Satan’s world with his allies, the denominations, are daily laying waste the Word of God. Apostasy after apostasy from among our brethren has joined them. The last major apostasy of our liberal brethren signaled their trashing of the Scripture by saying, “We do many things for which we have no Bible authority.” They will not be the last. I hear all too many today laying aside God’s terminology from his word and adopting the language of the sectarian world. Unless they change their hearts, by their words they shall be condemned. We must with Joshua of old stand up and say, “But as for me and my house, we will serve God!”
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 15, pp. 449, 470
August 4, 1988