By Denver Neimeier
During recent years we have seen many changes occur in our methods of travel, communication and those things which make up our daily activities. We are told that progress brings about such changes. While we might question whether some of the changes that have occurred are 14 progress,” it is granted that other changes have brought about those things that provide improvement.
However, I wonder if you are aware that even though changes have been made, some are a return to the way things were before later changes were made. For example, the first car I owned was purchased in 1941. The 1931 model car had a floor shift, one-piece windshield, and ventless windows. In the years that followed, auto manufacturers changed all of these things. The gear shift was moved to the steering post, a two-piece windshield replaced the older model, and vents were added to the front, side windows. However, ff you were to purchase a new car today, the salesman would point out that the “latest” thing is a floor shift, ventless windows, and a one-piece windshield. So, sometimes when things are changed, the change is a return to the way it was in the first place. Things do change – or do they?
The years have also brought changes in religious circles. The Roman Catholic Church within the past few years has had many changes; services are now conducted in English, there are no more meatless Fridays, etc. The so-called Protestant groups have also witnessed many changes which seek to improve their structure and activities. While these changes are not of personal interest since they bring about nothing that affect my service or worship of God, they are of interest in noting that at times there seems to be at least a small effort to return to the original. Things do change – or do they?
Even among God’s people, many things are different now from what they were even a few years ago. Preachers can no longer preach in places where they used to be welcome, even though they are preaching the same message now as then. Members of the Body of Christ who used to worship under the same roof, sit on the same seat, and even used the same song book to sing from, or the same Bible to study from, no longer do so. Those who used to work shoulder to shoulder for the growth of God’s kingdom now are working against each other. No longer can one declare himself to be a member of the Lord’s church and be welcomed by others who make the same declaration. Now there must first be the determining of what one is for and against before he can be fellowshipped. Things do change – or do they?
We are told that the changes that have been made among members of the Body of Christ in their work, worship, organization, etc. are those things which help to present a better image to the people of the world and which changes help us to reach more people to influence them in order to bring more to God. Things do change – or do they?
As these things have developed, there have been those who have accepted the changes ~and others who have rejected them, thus creating the division that already has been mentioned and, from all indications, which will get worse. Discussions, arguments, sermons, lectures, debates, bulletins, tracts, classes, and other efforts have been used to justify the need, or lack of it, for such changes. Many have read the teachings and writings of those who labored before us to find out how those of bygone years stood on these issues. And, I am sorry to say, some seem to think that because some well-known preacher, writer or elder of that era thought this or that, this constitutes sufficient proof to determine whether we accept or refuse a practice or action today. While at other times, the fact that such a thing has been practiced by members of the Church for years is all the authority needed to justify these changes. Things do change – or do they?
Why is it that people do not do as they say others ought to do? Why is it that those who encourage others to just accept the truth will not accept it for themselves? Questions are asked concerning “make-believe” situations concerning people, as if such would interfere with the teaching of God’s word. This sounds very much like the type of reasoning that has been heard from those who oppose baptism in order to have salvation when they ask the question,” What about the man off by himself somewhere, who reads his Bible, learns the truth, has no one around to baptize him, and dies before he finds someone to assist him?” Situations just will not and do not change what the Truth teaches.
As we hear, read, and are told of the changes that have come about within the Church, questions begin to arise such as: Were Peter, Paul, James, John, and others in New Testament times able to “present a better image,” “bring more people to God,” “create interest” etc. without these things that so many say are needed today? Or, did they have them and just forgot to tell us about them? If they accomplished the work they were supposed to do for the cause of -Christ without such, why can we not also accomplish the task today without such? Or, did they only do a partial job, and since their time someone, somewhere has found what was lacking and has been given the information by God in order for the complete work to be accomplished today. We ask the question in reference to God’s will, Things do change – or do they? The Bible says no. What say ye?
I grant that many changes which affect our lives improve our daily activities. However, the changes that occur within the Lord’s Body today are such that have come from man and not from God? God’s instruction for man is the same today as it was in New Testament times. The changes that have occurred are here because man has changed in his attitude toward what God has said. Things do change – but God’s will does not.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:32, p. 13-14
June 13, 1974