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Are We Walking In The Light?

Are We Walking In The Light?

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
September, 2002


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Last updated:
November 1, 2002.
I John 1:6,7 - "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one w1th another; and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

2 Thessalonians 2:10,11,12 - "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them tnat perish: because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

Psalm 119:172 - "My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness."

THE NEW TESTAMENT writer quotes Isaiah - "The way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:17,18). The expression "not known" in this passage, means to fail to accept, approve, recognlze, upnold, support, depend on, rely on and advocate. It describes a state in which men have lost confidence in, and reliance upon the simple beautiful truths and requirements of the doctrine of Christ as set forth in the New Testament. They, instead, have resorted to hazardous experiments of substituting for the Truth of Heaven, the plans, schemes and devices of human wisdom in those things that pertain to the eternal welfare of the soul.

ORGANIZATION

We live in an age of organization. From the federal government down to the smallest rural school district, everything is supposed to be organized. Every phase of business or school activity is organized. Almost nothing is done except through an organization. The denominations, in all their religious activities, have copied the world in organization. The Roman Catholics have for centuries modeled their hierarchy after the kingdoms of the world. The spirit of organization permeates the consciousness of people in general.

We read and hear much about "organizing the church," and speak of the church as an organization. However, there is grave danger and much evidence that many are coming to think of the church as something like a human organization. God has left man free to work out earthly matters. In human fields of endeavor, organizations work well to accomplish their set goals. God does not legislate in the field of such temporal matters today. But in spiritual matters, his plans and methods are for all races and for all time.

The denominational world has ignored the pattern so clearly set forth in the New Testament, and many times followed the methods of organization which have originated in worldly government or business. Their claim is that the New Testament method is out of date and simply not suited for our modern day. But such attitudes and departures from the pattern cannot be tolerated among God's people.

We still can turn to Hebrews 8:5 which says, "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount."

THE LORD'S CHURCH

Above all institutions, the church of the Lord Jesus should be esteemed and magnified. Every true loyal Christian's heart should echo the sweet sentiment, "I love thy kingdom, Lord, the house of thine abode." Yet men have tampered and trifled with this holy temple of God, and perverted and corrupted her pattern of work and worship. The ambitious have brought in things foreign to the Scriptures, not prescribed by the law of God, that they could not and "have not so learned Christ" (Ephesians 4:20) - have not been so "taught of him."

The law of Christ plainly authorizes singing in worship. No one questions that. It is clearly taught and required. To this is added abundant, approved example. The instance of our Lord and his disciples is of compelling interest and great significance--in the upper room when Jesus gave them the Lord's Supper, finished his exhortation, and prayed to the Father, "They sang a hymn and went out." They did not play a tune. We are commanded to sing, but nowhere commanded to play on a mechanical instrument in worship to God. This is sufficient for all who love the light and are determined to walk in it. To go beyond this is to transgress the divine law. (See also Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Hebrews 2:12; James 5:13; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

AUTHORITY OR NO

The law of Christ plainly authorizes one cup of fruit of the vine in the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). The law of Christ plainly authorizes an assembly of men, women and children to teach and learn the word of God (2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 14:34,35). The law of Christ plainly authorizes men only to do the public teaching. This, in each case, is sufficient for all who love "the light" and are determined to "walk" in it. To go beyond this is to transgress the divine law.

The teaching of the word of God in a private way is to be carried out by both men and women (Acts 18:24-28), but public teaching and preaching is to be done by Christian men only and the women are to learn in silence (2 Timothy 2:11,12). No name changes or modification in the appearance of the group can alter a deliberate attempt to defeat God's plan. Those who are personally ambitious attempt to do such things.

THE CONSEQUENCES

If it is claimed that this is not "a big deal," but just "a simple matter," then it should be easily seen and done and so much more are those who refuse to observe it inexcusable. It may seem a simple matter but never call it "inconsequential." Those who will not be bound to these simple, plain limitations of Truth are transgressing the law of God, adopting in its stead schemes and devices, doctrines and commandments of men. These love darkness rather than light and God's word says they will be damned because "they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. . . but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

Of the same class are those who organize "societies," "institutions," "activities" or "works" either competitive with, supplemental to, an expansion of, or a substitutfon for the local church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each congregation of the Lord's people is designed by God to do such work as these innovators claim they do with their missionary efforts, benevolent programs, lectureships and studies. These people are simply not satisfied with what is taught in the doctrine of Christ. This is clear from the fact that they adopt something wholly untaught, totally different, and thus entirely unauthorized in the doctrine of Christ.

THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST

The churches of Christ, worldwide, were never organized to do anything. The New Testament teaches that each local autonomous congregation with its leadership is to carry on their work of helping the needy saints among them, edifying the Christians, spreading the gospel to sinners, ana tending to discipline among them. They took care of their own and tried to convert others. There were no brotherhood synods, councils, boards, conventions or studies where decisions were made. They sometimes cooperated in a work but remained totally independent.

The meeting of the apostles in Acts 15 produced an inspired letter which went out demanding that those who were converted "abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood" but that circumcision and the keeping of the Law of Moses was not binding upon them.

At that time the New Testament canon had not been compiled and individual inspired men wrote letters which were circulated to teach and correct spiritual matters. Today, we have no men inspired of God, thus we have no authority to convene a council or a meeting or a tribunal to make any kind of decision, whether on doctrine, discipline, or practice.

MAKING DECREES

There have been many blots on the history of "Christianity". Every human attempt to organize Christians outside of and apart from the local congregation has been wholly without the approval of God and has caused contention, division and apostasy. However, there are some today who under the color of "good intentions," "great plans," or "taking care of matters," are working to do this.

If it is a "determining council" in Italy, it is wrong; if it is a "convention on the articles of faith" in Georgia, it is wrong; if it is a "decision meeting" in Texas, it is wrong. When you hear "we decided," at such and such a place, you had better beware. You need to ask who are "we" and what decisions are they authorized by God to make. Mark it down - such groups are always driven by human ambition.

Many attempt in this way to avoid scrutiny about themselves and their own questionable activities. It might be good to read about Diotrephes whom John said, "loves to have the preeminence" in 3 John. It is evident that the man had personal ambition as his motive for demanding to withdraw from certain brethren.

Not only are such religious councils and meetings unauthorized in the New Testament, they are excluded, and thus forbidden. Paul, to the Ephesians says, "Unto him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 5:21). Glory that is to be ascribed to God the Father, and so justly due Him by all the intelligent beings of earth is to be in Christ, and in his holy church.

Glory, then, will never reach the divine and majestic Creator who sits on the throne of heaven except it be ascribed through Jesus Christ in the church of His great love and sacrifice. God Jehovah cannot be glorified by a work of any institution, or council of preachers, or camp of Christians whether loosely gathered together or in complicated arrangement.

Whoever creates any organization to do the work that a congregation should do does not take care of a problem, does not glorify God, honor Christ, or exalt the church. Whoever changes, alters or modifies God's way is walking in darkness, not in the light, for he or she is walking in a way where the light of Truth has never shone.


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