RANDOM THOUGHTS AND GLEANINGS
This edition of “Hugh’s News & Views” is dated December 27, 2016. Today I celebrate my 79th birthday. I often wonder where the years have gone. And yet I know: They have been consumed with living!
Since this will be the last “News & Views” for 2016, it seems appropriate to share a few random thoughts and gleanings. Consider the following.
Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16a, NKJV). If a new car dealer published a notice in the newspaper that said, “He who believes and is baptized will receive a new car,” would anyone show up at the dealership and say, “I believe, therefore I am here to get my new car, and I will be baptized later as a sign to show that I received the new car”? Isn’t it funny how easily we can understand something that involves a material prize, but then deny the plain words of Christ when it comes to the heavenly prize, the salvation of our soul?
The thinking of some brethren who make fun of doing exactly what the Lord says with reference to salvation from sin seems to run something like this: He who believes (more or less), repents (after a fashion), and is baptized (by some “mode”) shall be saved (to a certain extent). I marvel at how some can mock doing exactly what the Lord said, in the way He said to do it, and for the reason He said to do it.
“Grace makes salvation possible; obedient faith makes salvation actual” (Batsell Barrett Baxter, The Family of God, p. 39, italics his).
“I love to think that my life should spring from his death; my healing from his wounds; my glory from his shame. If God forsake him not, I cannot be accepted. If thorns press not his temples, I can never wear a crown of glory. Now, in the grave he lies; he must conquer death, or I must sleep forever. If there ever was a time when all the harps of heaven were still, and not one note of angelic music sounded through the skies, ’twas when that lifeless, mangled form was lying in the rich man’s tomb! But the voice of God pierces the gloom and silence of the grave; angels attend upon his second birth (a reference to Christ’s resurrection, His birth from the grave, hf); with a glorious escort he passes upward in his chariot of clouds, and enters in through the everlasting gates. Those doors were closed when Adam fell; they now receive the conqueror of sin and death. And, glorious thought! They are still unbarred; and I and you, and all that follow him in life, shall one day enter through the gates into the everlasting city of our God” (“Raccoon” John Smith, The Life of Elder John Smith, John Augustus Williams, p. 565).
The church of Christ is not only undenominational, but it is pre-denominational! It existed before any denomination—either Catholic or Protestant—was ever established. The Lord’s church (and that is the sole significance of the descriptor “church of Christ,” i.e., the church that belongs to Christ) was established in the city of Jerusalem in c. A.D. 30 as we read in Acts 2. The gates of Hades have not prevailed against that church (Matthew 16:18), and it still exists today. One can become a member of it by obeying the gospel, being saved from sins, and being added to it by the Lord (Acts 2:47). That is what happened on the day the church began, and that is what still happens today when people do what the people did on that occasion. If when people read the New Testament they would remove their denominational spectacles and lay aside their religious traditions, the beauty of undenominational, New Testament Christianity would shine through in all its radiant splendor and divine power.
It takes great courage as well as great humility for one to admit that he or she has been wrong religiously and to leave a family religious tradition for the truth of God’s word, but our destination in eternity hangs in the balance. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).
“The young can run faster, but the old know the shortcuts”(Jens Weidmann), i.e., they know how to run “smart.”
“The young can run faster but sometimes take off in the wrong direction” (Anonymous).
As we prepare to enter a new year, let us take to heart the wisdom of Solomon who said, “The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Life is not a matter of speed, but of direction.
December 27, 2016