Are you willing to accept what the bible teaches, and only what it teaches? Most religious people will quickly respond, “I certainly will. That is what I want. Our church does that, and if it didn’t I would not remain in it.” Sound familiar? What a pity that such is not true.
Where does the Bible teach any group of people to write for themselves a creed, discipline, confession of faith, catechism, or constitution by which they are governed in their church? The answer one gets is not a straight forward reply. They will say, “But the Bible does not say, ‘You shall not write a concise document by which to make our doctrine understandable and definite.”‘ We answer, “No, but the bible does say not to go beyond that which was written (1 Cor 4:6). If these man written dogmas contains more than the Bible, then it is too much. If less than the Bible, then it is too little. If it differs from the Bible, it is wrong or the Bible is wrong and not sufficient for salvation. If it contains exactly what the Bible does, we have the Bible, hence your dogmas are useless. Their creed or church constitution serves the very purpose for which God gave the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ff; 2 Pet. 1:34; 1 Pet. 4:11; Jude 3).
Ask About Baptism
The response usually goes like this, “God, didn’t say, ‘He that believes and is not baptized shall be lost.”‘ No, but He did say, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Now which do you want to be: saved or lost? Are you going to trust your salvation upon what God says, or upon what He did not say?
Denominational churches will contend, “God didn’t say, ‘You shall not use mechanical instruments of music in worship.”‘ Again, no, but He did say, “Sing and make melody in your hearts unto the Lord.” Which are you going to do? Which is your guide: what God didn’t say or what God said and the New Testament instructs (Eph. 5:19 f; Col. 3:16-17)?
But The Bible Does Not Say
There are those within the church of our Lord who will fanatically acclaim, “The Bible does not say ‘how’ to preach the gospel, therefore we may establish an organization through which the gospel can be preached more efficiently and effectively.” The Bible does not tell us how, but it does commission or direct the church to teach the word as the “pillar and ground,” support, “of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15 f; Eph. 4:12). God, through Christ, has given sufficient “organization or divine arrangement” through which the work is to be done. In the first century, under the direct directions of the Holy Spirit, no man-made organization was used, authorized, or in addition to or instead of, the church. The local church stood apart from any other organization to serve God’s divine purpose upon the earth. It worked then, why will it not work today? We have no further information from God, no other plan can be of divine origin __only human. Is man wiser than God today, and capable of knowing more about what is required to carry God’s saving message to the whole world than God Himself? If so, don’t you suppose that man will soon come up with a better message of salvation? How vain can man become! We must remember, no matter what plan of salvation man may establish, it cannot deliver on any promise of salvation. Only God promises salvation to those who obey His Word, and only God can deliver what he has promised (Rom 4:21 f; Tit 1:2).
The sponsoring, centralized church is foreign to the work of the first century church of our Blessed Lord. It is also foreign to the New Testament. Therefore, no one or group has any divine right to practice any such set-up with God’s approval.
This same principle is true in edification. The church is authorized of God to edify itself by practicing and speaking the truth in love, so all growth may be unto him who is the head__Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:15-16).
The benevolent work was done by the church or done individually by its members, with no extra organizations. The glory was given to God. The poor saints were the object of the church’s care (1 Cor. 16:1-2 f; 1 Tim. 5:16). So far as we have a right to know, this was the practice of the churches of Christ for nearly 2,000 years.
It all comes down to one question: Are you willing to accept what the bible teaches, and only what it teaches? Are you willing to speak and teach the oracles of God, or are you determined to teach for doctrine the commandments and doctrines of men which turn men from the truth? (Matt 15:7-9 ff; 1 Pet 4:11; Tit 1:14). If you can’t take God’s Word for it and nothing more, why do you expect God will one day say unto you, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matt 25:21,23)? You just as well take God at his Word now, because come the day of judgment you will be judged ONLY by God’s Word (Jn 12:48).