By Jeff Butterfield
“I have been on the (U.S.S.) Saratoga for fourteen months where I am a welder. Thirteen months ago I was converted by the brethren here. Since that time I have had the desire to preach the gospel. If the Lord wills, I will push toward that goal. I am thankful for every opportunity to teach and learn of God’s will.
“In number we are about ten and have grown to that number from last year perhaps in May when only two of the brethren met here aboard the Saratoga. We are continuing to grow in number through whatever teaching we do on the ship. We’re all quite young in Christ and due to our limited knowledge at the present time we lack the edification we should have. Out at sea we meet to worship four times a week and get together to study and teach as we have the opportunity. When in port we worship with the South Jacksonville congregation where Brother Harold Dowdy is the preacher. He has delivered many fine lessons from God’s word and has been helpful in many ways. All of the brethren at South Jacksonville have been very helpful. We usually gain more at the meetings there than we do out to sea due to the many years the brethren there have worked in God’s kingdom. Any exhortation from the brethren who may know of us would be appreciated. “
(For more information about the church on the U.S.S. Saratoga, see the cover article of the January 2, 1975, Truth Magazine, or write Jeff Butterfield-Editor).
We learn from Jesus that one reason He came to earth was to preach (Mark 1:38). All that Jesus taught was truth (John 1:14, 17). The only thing Christ taught was what He heard God the Father speak (John 7:16). We learn in Hebrews that God had spoken in the past or in the Jewish dispensation to the fathers by the prophets, but now in these last days speaks through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Therefore we can conclude that through Christ we can learn the truth which is able to set men free. The scriptures teach as much.
As Christ was teaching one day He told some Jews that believed on Him that they could know the truth by continuing in His word. In so doing they would be made free (John 8:31-32). Though this was spoken at that time directly to those Jews who believed on Him, we find that it is true today also, as Christ still has the truth. We find that there is only one way into the sheepfold, and that way is through Christ (John 10:9).
Though Christ is not here today in the flesh, we can still be able to know this very same truth by following what the apostles have set forth. The apostles heard Christ, saw Him, and handled Him. That is what they have declared so that we may have this fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ(1 John 1:1-3). What we have then is the recording of the apostles of Christ from what they heard Him teach. While it’s true that men are fallible, we must come to the understanding that these men were inspired by God (John 14:26). Therefore we can see the reason for the unity in what they have said and have the assurance that by following what they have proclaimed we, too, can know the truth (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
But now a problem is presented. If all of this be true, why the need for creed books? We’re going to find that creed books contradict the Bible. Permit me to prove what I’ve just said. Page 91 of Luther’s Catechism says, “We are justified and saved by faith alone, without works. ” James 2:24 says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only.” Who do you believe? I believe James. Others would prefer to go along with Martin Luther. The truth is Martin Luther taught something the word of God did not teach. In so doing he perverted that which the apostles had taught (Gal. 1:6-9). The truth simply cannot be found in human creeds. The person who follows Martin Luther’s teaching becomes a Lutheran. On the other hand, the person who follows that which the Bible teaches becomes a Christian (Acts 11:26). Don’t be deceived by creed books. (See also Roland Worth, Jr.’s article “Creeds, ” page 13 of this issue–,Editor) The complete revelation of God’s will has been given and can only be found in the pages of the New Testament (2 Pet. 1:3). Nothing can be added to it nor subtracted from it (Rev. 22:18-19). We will find that the man who follows the perfect law of liberty by doing just what it says shall be blessed in his deed (James 1:25). That very same person will be a member of the one body (Eph. 4:4) for which Christ shed his blood and is also its head (Acts 20:28; Col. 1:22-23). This church follows only what the apostles taught (Acts 2:42) and is unmovable or steadfast in that doctrine. This church was promised to be built by Christ (Matt. 16:18) and it wears only His name (Rom. 16:16). Truth is found only in Christ Jesus.
Truth Magazine XIX: 44, pp. 695-696
September 18, 1975