By Jarrod Jacobs
The New Testament Church, Roy E. Cogdill, $5.95 hardback, $4.25 paperback, Walking by Faith, Roy E. Cogdill, $3.95 paperback, and Faith and the Faith, Roy E. Cogdill, $6.95.
Brother Roy Cogdill realized the importance of the printed page. This realization caused him to use the printed page many times in his life. Besides being a contributor to such magazines as The Gospel Guardian, Truth Magazine, The Torch, Guardian of Truth, and countless other periodicals, he also wrote the three books which I was asked to review in this special issue of the Guardian of Truth.
In a series of articles concerning Christian journalism, brother Cogdill wrote, “This writer has long been using the printed page to teach those whom he could not otherwise reach. In 1938 while still a young preacher I prepared a series of lessons for a class of adult young people. These have been published through more than 20 editions of ten thousand copies each (in nearly all of them) and upon hundreds of occasions I have had testimony born to me by someone whom I met for the first time that the little book, The New Testament Church had been of invaluable help to them in learning the truth” (The Gospel Guardian, October 1, 1975, 1).
This book will be the first book reviewed in this article.
The New Testament Church
This book of 138 pages focuses on all facets of the church of Christ. Some chapter titles are: “The Nature of the Church,” “Church Government,” and “Churches of the New Testament Era.” It is intended to be a year’s study on the New Testament church, and as such is arranged in fifty-two chapters. This book is filled with Scripture to back up each point, and is in outline form, thus contributing to class discussion.
Two chapters in particular that I found interesting were, “The Church and Worldliness,” and “The Discipline of the Church.” The lesson on “The Church and Worldliness” is especially helpful when one is faced with practices that may not be wrong in themselves, but their influence and effect on others make them wrong. Brother Cogdill addresses the problems people face in the areas of pleasure and recreation that may be questionable. Questions such as, “Is it destructive to your body?” and “Does it conflict with your duty as a Christian?” are posed to help us make the right decisions and please God.
The next chapter is entitled, “The Discipline of the Church.” Here brother Cogdill explains the two-fold meaning of discipline (i.e., instructive and corrective). With specific Bible references, God’s plan for discipline and withdrawing fellowship is explained, as well as the bishops’ duty and the church’s attitude toward discipline. This chapter needs to be read and studied by many churches to-day.
Brother Cogdill best explained his intent in writing this book. It was written to make “the distinctive position occupied by the Church of Christ outstanding and easily discernible” (Preface).
One feature that stands out in The New Testament Church is the total reliance on Scripture to enforce each point. In the preface, brother Cogdill makes the observation that too many teachers rely solely on their class books, instead of on the Bible. Thus, he wrote this book with the intention of pointing people toward the Bible in every chapter. One will never be able to reap the benefits of this book if they refuse to study their Bible.
I would recommend this book to both old and young alike. The reason is that this book, promotes the grounding of basic and essential truths concerning Christ and his church. Too many of my brethren are getting away from this in their preaching and teaching. They are constantly looking for “new and better” things to teach and preach. Friends, this is foolish! If this loose attitude toward the church continues, it will not be long until we will be like the very ones we oppose today. No, The New Testament Church is not an infallible book (brother Cogdill admits this on the first page), but it is an excellent guide pointing us toward the infallible book, the Bible.
Walking By Faith
Fanning Yater Tant wrote the foreword to Walking By Faith. He said that this book is a sequel to The New Testament Church. Its purpose was to apply particular practices and situations to the principles laid out in The New Testament Church. Walking By Faith has only sixteen chapters, but it goes into more detail on specific issues and digressions that plague the church of our Lord even today.
Some of the chapter titles are, “The Mission of the Church,” “How Scriptural Authority Can Be Established,” “The Church and the Christian Individual,” and “The Church Universal and the Church Local.” Brother Cogdill explains such issues as how we can determine when an ex-ample is binding. In a time when apostates cry out for a “new hermeneutic,” both young and old need to know what the truth is concerning apostolic examples. Many times we see those in religious error promoting their digression by saying, “It is an expediency.” Brother Cogdill explains what it means when something is an expedient. Therefore, we can see how necessary this book is today. Though brother Cogdill is no longer with us, his words can still have an impact, and we can still benefit from his knowledge.
Walking By Faith focuses mainly on the question of institutionalism. Though some may think that this battle is over, we need to remember that battles do not remain fought and victories do not remain won when it comes to spiritual matters. All would do well to read and study this small book (94 pages), lest we become lax and forget the fundamental points and problems with institutionalism.
On the last page of this book, brother Cogdill simply makes a statement entitled, “The Application.” Here, the lessons from the previous chapters are brought into focus, and he shows us, by the Scriptures, the importance of not straying from the organization and the work of the church.
Faith and The Faith
Faith and The Faith contains brother Cogdill’s series of lessons on “faith.” These lessons are transcripts from the meeting he conducted in 1971 at the Highland Boulevard church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas. After each sermon, there are several questions which could be used in discussion for a Bible class situation.
This book is 237 pages with twelve chapters. Some of the chapters include, “The Debt of Faith,” “The Obedience of Faith,” “The Failure of Faith,” as well as two chapters that were taken from radio addresses in Lufkin, Texas on March 6 and 13, 1949. The chapters are entitled, “Christianity is Undenominational.”
This book was made possible with the help of brother Ron Halbrook who edited the sermons for brother Cogdill, who was in very bad health at the time of writing. They worked together closely. Though some words and sentences had to be changed for the sake of the reader, brother Halbrook made every effort to preserve brother Cogdill’s speaking style and content throughout the book. Brother Cogdill approved each sermon before this book was published. Brother Ron Halbrook also wrote an extended biography of brother Cogdill in the back of the book.
One chapter that I enjoyed was part one of the sermon, “Christianity is Undenominational.” There, brother Cogdill states in no uncertain terms, the necessity for unity and what it will take to achieve true Bible unity. He explains 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, and then deals with the division as was faced in the first century, and how division today is no different. He ended this sermon (as he did every sermon) with a plea for people to come and be saved by accepting the Lord’s invitation to believe on him, repent of their sins, and be baptized for the remission of sins. He explained God’s plan of salvation in such a way that no one could misunderstand.
I would recommend this book to the reader because of its necessity today. Too many are getting away from the “first principles” in their preaching. They are trying to get away from this type of preaching in a vain attempt to preach something “new” or “different.” Please understand, I am not saying that one must preach Roy Cogdill’s sermons in order to get to heaven, but I am saying that if we do not preach from the Bible and stick with the Bible, we will not go to heaven! Brother Cogdill’s sermons, while not infallible, make it clear that the Bible is what we should be studying, learning, loving, and obeying (Phil. 4:9; Eph. 3:4; 2 Tim. 2:15)!
These three books by brother Cogdill are good for any-one who simply wants to study and learn invaluable lessons from God’s holy word. Some may be familiar with brother Cogdill’s writings in many of the brotherhood papers through the years. These articles show his unwavering stand for the truth, as do the books we have reviewed. The subjects he has addressed over the years, and his plea for “book, chapter, and verse” make his articles and books worth reading.
The value of brother Cogdill’s books can be seen in several areas. One area in which they are extremely valuable is in brother Cogdill’s use of Scripture. This must never grow old in our preaching and study! Brother Cogdill used Bible examples and Bible illustrations to sustain the truth he was teaching. Too much of the preaching today is simply the “trendy” aping of the popular “positive mental attitude” philosophy which is long on “feel good” stories and fluff and puff psychology. Brother Cogdill’s works draw us back to the Bible. For that reason, if for no other, they should serve as an example to all teachers of the gospel.
Brother Cogdill also discussed those old themes that never grow old. It is true that specific issues may come and go, but the principles and precepts dealt with in brother Cogdill’s books never go out of style. They are always relevant and pertinent, for they deal with Bible authority and contrast human religion with divine religion. Today, it seems that some are determined to identify the divine with the humanby lowering distinct standards of truth and by blurring the distinctions between truth and error, the church and denominationalism, the sacred and the secular, the holy and the profane. Thus, brother Cogdill’s books are always useful lest a generation arise that does not know the Lord (Judg. 2:10). Brother Cogdill’s books compare and contrast the worship in spirit and in truth with ignorant, will worship. The Cogdill books point us to Christ and to his word. They lead us to worship and serve the Lord according to his will and help us to avoid “many wonderful works” that are exercises in futility because they are not taught in the word of God (Matt. 7:22; Col. 3:17).
Brother Cogdill’s militant spirit must be passed on to future generations. The only way this will happen is by reading what he had to say, and comparing it to the Scriptures as the final authority. I will close with a quote from his book, Walking By Faith,” page 91:
When love of the brethren and peace with the brethren become so important that we are willing to sacrifice the will and word of the Lord for the sake of it, we are more interested in peace with men than in peace with God and love men more than we love God.
Let us never forget that we are here for the purpose of pleasing God, and not man (Rev. 4:11)! Brother Cogdill is missed by many, but his influence lives on in the printed page! I would encourage everyone to add these books to his library. They will help one greatly.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 23, p. 3-5
December 5, 1996