INSIGHTS, OBSERVATIONS, AND QUOTATIONS
“(5) The disciples were called Christians (Acts 11:26). Let us be candid here. They were not called Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Pentecostals, or Episcopalians. The divine name was Christian…It is likely that the majority of those claiming to be Christians in the present day are wearing some humanly devised name” (Alan E. Highers, “Characteristics of New Testament Churches,” The Spiritual Sword, Volume 50, No. 4, July 2019, p. 41).
“Seed produces after its kind. The word of God is the seed of the kingdom (Lk. 8:11; I Pet. 1:22-25). If we sow the word of God unmixed with human names and creeds, it produces Christians (Acts 2:41). It requires the addition of the Baptist Manual to produce Baptists. Using only the word of God, one cannot produce a Baptist. It requires the addition of the Methodist Discipline to produce Methodists. Using only the word of God, one cannot produce a Methodist. The Bible only produces Christians only. For many years churches of Christ have pled for people to abandon their man-made creeds and their denominational titles and be only what disciples of Christ were in the New Testament. That is still our plea” (Alan E. Highers, ibid., p. 42).
“But still the question will not down: Are there Christians ‘in all denominations?’ Well, it seems to be a weakness in Christians to get into things they ought to keep out of. I have noticed evidences of such weakness even in myself at times. In the very days of the inspired writers of the New Testament Christians were continually getting into all sorts of things which the inspired men of God were eternally pulling them out of and warning them not to go into anymore; and if there had been such a thing as a denomination for them to get into then, some of them would have gone into it occasionally, or it would have been the only thing they kept out of which they had no business to enter. And, besides all this, a denomination is the easiest thing to fall into and the hardest thing to climb out of that I ever came into contact with, anyhow…If there are no Christians in any denomination, it is the only place except hell they have all kept out of. When there are Christians—not the best variety of Christians, to be sure, but the same sort that lengthen the lists of members on all ‘our church books’—in saloons, on the race track, at the theater, in the ballroom, around the gambling tables, in the calaboose, behind the jail doors, in the penitentiary, and on the gallows, it should not create surprise or start a scandal if a few of the meanest specimens of them should occasionally be found temporarily in the most respectable and pious religious denominations of this degenerate age and God-forsaken country” (F. D. Srygley, The New Testament Church, consisting of editorials in the Gospel Advocate from 1889 to 1900, originally published in 1910, edited by his brother, F. B. Srygley, and reprinted by the Gospel Advocate Company in 2001, pp. 67-68).
If a person is a Christian it is because he has heard the gospel (Romans 10:17), believed the gospel (Romans 1:16), repented of his sins (Acts 17:30), confessed his faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and been baptized (immersed) for the remission of his sins (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 2:38). On doing this one is saved from his past sins and added to the church of which we read in the New Testament, the one Christ established (Acts 2:47; Matthew 16:18).
If a person is saved by obedience to the gospel and added to the church of the New Testament and then joins a denomination in joining the denomination he does something which the Lord has not authorized him to do and which no Christian ever did in New Testament times. (There were no denominations in New Testament times! They all arose far this side of the New Testament). The person who has complied with the Lord’s conditions for being saved and added to His church and who then (for whatever reason) has joined a denomination needs to extricate himself from the denomination, and the sooner the better!
On the other hand, if a person has only complied with the conditions for being a member of a denomination, submitting to some so-called plan of salvation not taught in scripture (repeat “the sinner’s prayer,” “just believe,” “accept Christ into your heart,” “experience a spiritual epiphany,” etc., etc.), then that person needs to obey the gospel and be added to the church of the Lord, and the sooner the better! You can be a Christian, a member of the New Testament church, without every joining any denomination!
“In New Testament times there were no hyphenated Christians such as we find today (Catholic-Christians, Presbyterian-Christians, Baptist-Christians, etc.). Paul condemned the division in the church at Corinth and rebuked them for wearing the names of men (I Cor. 1:10-13). What would he say today about the multiplicity of denominational divisions and names?” (This writer, “Finding New Testament Churches Today,” The Spiritual Sword, Volume 50, No. 4, July 2019, p. 44).
“New Testament churches in a particular geographical location today, like the local churches in New Testament times, are composed of those who have obeyed the gospel, been saved from their sins, and added to the universal church. New Testament churches today are local assemblies of blood-cleansed people, people who have become Christians only without having joined any denomination” (This writer, Ibid., p. 45).
“If you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jesus, John 8:31-32).
(To Be Continued Next Week)
Hugh Fulford, August 6, 2019
- August 18-22: Polishing the Pulpit, Sevierville, TN