By Larry Ray Hafley
Christians are often placed on the defensive. When discussing and disputing with people about fundamental features and facts of the New Testament system, the child of God feels as though he is on trial. The simplest truth appears as the rankest heresy. One who believes and practices “what is written” in the Bible is pictured and portrayed as the wild-eyed “nut.” A moment of reflection will prove it to you. For example, consider the last time you talked to your denominational friends about music in worship, the observance of the Lord’s supper, baptism and giving. Did it not seem as though you were the one advocating and propagating some new thing? Were you not placed on the defensive?
In reality, this situation and circumstance should not occur. Why? Because the issues of music, the Lord’s supper, baptism and giving are not denied, the disciple should not be viewed as the one who is bound to explain himself. Here is why:
(1) The Music Question. No one argues that Christians cannot congregate and sing. Everyone agrees that it is right and scriptural for saints to sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Ask a Catholic, a Lutheran, a Baptist or any other denominational person if it is proper for the church to do what churches of Christ do, namely, to sing. What will they say? They will admit that it is according to the truth and pleasing to God. Now, if they want to contend for a different practice, the burden of proof is theirs. No one questions that what you believe is right.
(2) The Lord’s Supper. That Christians may partake of the communion of the body and blood of the Lord every first day of the week is not denied. Ask a Baptist if he believes that it is sinful for the church to break bread upon the first day of the week. He will not say that it is. So, it is conceded that the practice of the brethren is in harmony with the word of God. If they want to do something different, that is their problem. Let them find authority for what they do since they agree that what you stand for is right.
(3) Baptism. There are numbers of churches that believe, teach and practice sprinkling for baptism. However, none of them will say that it is contrary to the Bible to immerse. A Catholic priest will tell you, as will a Lutheran or a Presbyterian, that immersion is acceptable. New Testament Christians, therefore, engage in the action that no group denies. You see, your position and your practice, is unquestioned. Everyone agrees that it is of God. If they want to do something else, that is their responsibility. The ball is in their court.
The same thing is true with regard to the subject, the candidate, for baptism. Who would deny that a penitent, believing adult is suitable for baptism? Absolutely no one. Once again, the thing you defend is beyond controversy. Further, if they want to baptize others, well, they must submit the proof. It is their action that is at issue since they acknowledge that what you do is correct.
(4) Giving. Churches of Christ collect their contribution each Lord’s day (1 Cor. 16:2). Ask a Pentecostal or a Methodist if he thinks it is wrong to do so. Will anyone in any of the denominations speak against laying by in store upon the first day of the week? Of course not. They all know it is in accord with the doctrine of the Lord. But they want to have pie suppers, rummage sales and car washes to raise money. Sorry, but that is not my fault; that is not my baby. If they want to do other than what they agree is right, they will have to find book, chapter and verse for it.
See the point? Obviously, you do. So, relax. Most of the basic principles of New Testament work and worship are approved even of men. They who would do something else, something less, something different, are the defendants in this case. They are on trial. The truth has been vindicated. Prosecute their error and convict it.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 5, pp. 131-132
March 1, 1984