By Ray F. Dively
By the title of this article you might think these strange teachings are being taught by the Catholic or Protestant churches. But they are not. These are being taught by Christians. I wish to point out a few.
“Men do not have to have believing children (Christians) as a qualification to become an Elder.” In the King James version Titus 1:6 states, having “faithful children” but the Greek has “believing children.” The American Standard and some other have “children that believe.” Goodspeed and the Twentieth Century New Testament translate it “whose children are Christians.” Therefore the Bible teaches that a qualification for an Elder, the man must have children who are Christians.
“That Elders are not to make decisions but the whole church.” The Elders are to oversee and feed the flock (Acts 20: 28). 1 Peter 5: 2 says, “Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight.” Elders are to direct spending of money (Acts 11:27-30), and are to make decisions (Acts 15:6). The Elders are to rule or exercise authority, we are to obey and submit to them (I Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17). It is even falsely being taught that Hebrews 13:17 refers to the preacher. Elders make the spiritual decisions as long as they are in harmony with the scriptures and they make the material decisions with wisdom for the benefit of the congregation.
Exchange of pulpits with denominational churches. 2 John 10, 11 says, “If any one cometh unto you and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works.” Therefore, how can we have a false preacher speaking to us? Also, we are to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23, 24). We cannot worship in truth if we have a false preacher delivering the sermon.
We can have fellowship with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). There are those who are advocating that Christian church members can take part in our worship services and have fellowship in the Lord’s work. Jesus only built one church (Matthew 16:18). Christ is the only foundation (I Corinthians 3: 11) and chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20). Other scriptures to prove there is only one church are: Romans 12:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; and Colossians 3:15. It was our Lord’s prayer that his followers be one (John 17:20-23). Therefore the Christian Church is not the Lord’s church and we are not to fellowship them. Of course we are to teach them as any other denominational church. We cannot fellowship with those who are in error. We cannot fellowship any denominational church. There are some churches of Christ and individual members who do.
The church should provide recreation for the youth. There are Churches of Christ today providing recreation for not only the youth but the adults also out of the church treasury. Churches are buying recreation buildings for the youth. Others have bought camps with cabins, lodge, swimming pool, etc. Families may use these camps where the main feature is fun and entertainment at the church expense.
Also, Student Centers (places of recreation) are being built by churches near the campuses of Universities. One such example of this is the Student Center at the University of Tennessee, sponsored by contributions from churches. They call it a home away from home complete with “television, piano, kitchen facilities, telephone, refreshments, ping-pong and various other games and sports.” Plus other activities such as suppers, parties, games, etc. Also, a “Christmas” party for underprivileged children is sponsored by the students each year. They do throw in some religious activity. They have regular devotionals four nights a week at the center. This gives it a religious flavor, enough to have the churches pay the bill.
Parents have the responsibilities to provide recreation for the youth and themselves, not the church. The work of the church is to teach the lost (Mark 16:15), teach and edify the members (Ephesians 4:11-16; Romans 4:9) and to do benevolence (Acts 4:34, 35; 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 5:16 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-3).
You can be saved without hearing the gospel. Where does the Lord save … in the church or out of it? Salvation is only in Christ (I Thessalonians 5:9; 1 Timothy 2:10; Acts 4:11, 12). “Neither is there salvation in any other.” The Bible then emphatically states that salvation is in Christ and in no other.
All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Forgiveness is in Christ (Colossians 1: 14). Redemption is in Christ (Romans 3:24). One is a New creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Life is in Christ Q John 5:11, 12). One can not enjoy spiritual life and at the same time be outside that realm where it is found. One is reconciled in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1820). One is reconciled in the One Body (Ephesians 2:16). Therefore, one must be in that one body to be reconciled to God.
The Bible explains that “one body” is the church (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24). Hence, one is reconciled in the church. Thus to be in Christ is to be in His church. Also, Christ is the Savior of the body, which is the church (Ephesians 5:23).
Since the church is the body of Christ and Christ is the Savior of the body, how can a person be saved and not be a member of that of which Christ is Savior?
It is true that the church does not save anyone, but Christ saves the church. Hence, salvation is promised only to those who are in the body of Christ. The church is not the Savior; it is the saved. All those who are saved are in the church (Acts 2:47).
To be in Christ is to be in His church, which is His spiritual body. Threfore, one cannot be “in Christ” and outside of His church, for the church is the body of Christ. There are no saved people outside the church of the New Testament.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord (Revelation 14:13). One does not die into the Lord, but one may die in the Lord. A person cannot die in the Lord (or in Christ) for Christ is Lord (Acts 2:36) unless he first enters into Christ by being baptized in Him. Those who are out of Christ are lost in sin (Ephesians 2:12). There is no possibility that they will be saved so long as they remain out of Christ. The eternal blessings of God are pronounced only upon “the dead who die in the Lord,” not upon those who die out of the Lord. If you can be saved without hearing the gospel, we could save more people by staying home. Why spend our time, effort and money teaching others if they are already saved without the gospel?
Just to name a few other false teachings and practices: This is a Christian nation, churches can support colleges (because Bible is taught), churches sponsor Boy Scout troops, youth Sundays, and churches can support unwed mothers homes, orphan homes, Herald of Truth, ball teams, child care centers, hospitals, camps, and other such like human institutions.
Since I have been a member of the Lord’s church, I hear over and over, “We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent”; also, “We go only by the Bible.” How false this is. How far may a congregation depart from the truth before it is no longer the Lord’s church? We are departing from the truth as the early church did. I believe the church, as a whole, has departed so far that it may be impossible to bring them back to the truth. ‘
There are false preachers, elders and others in the church today. We must study the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15) to understand what is scriptural and what is unscriptural. These are perilous times for the church.
I am fully convinced that a new denomination has been formed. For the present it is called “Church of Christ.” Many churches have joined this new denomination. How much more error must others embrace in order to become part of it?
In conclusion, may I say, let us go back to the Bible as our guide, as our only rule of faith. For we tell others we do this. The church did not completely fall away after it was established, over night. Changes were made that were not noticeable at the time. The church of Christ is making departures from the Bible now as the early church did. The great apostasy within the Lord’s church that finally resulted in the Catholic Church slowly developed. It took 600 years for a Universal Bishop called a pope to develop.
I pray all we say and do is according to God’s written word. Let us speak as the oracles of God 0 Peter 4: 11). Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Matthew 14:15). “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
Acts 17:30 says, “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent.” Today ignorance of God’s word is no excuse. Those who do not know God shall suffer eternal destruction.
Let us be faithful unto death and he will give us a crown of life (Revelation 2: 10).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 15, pp. 9-11
February 17, 1972