Category Archives: 2015 – July/August

This Preacher’s First A.A. Meeting — Neil Richey

It’s true. I went to my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting last week. I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea who I might meet there, what I would hear or what I would say. I had no thoughts of how it would be organized, how the session would go, or if it would even have any personal benefit for me.

Truth is, none of that mattered. I wasn’t there for me. I went to support a friend and to encourage this friend who has struggled with addiction for years.

I learned that at A.A. it’s typical for there to be a discussion leader, who has been sober for quite some time, to share his thoughts and experiences and then motivate the other attendees with words of encouragement and hope. Then, the other folks in the room would take turns sharing themselves. Many of those I heard from had been sober for years, but despite length of one’s sobriety, everyone introduced themselves in the same way. They said, “Hello, my name is ______________________, and I am an alcoholic.” It was as if they were saying, once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.

At the conclusion of the meeting one of the attendees, a leader within the local group I take it, handed out chips (looked like poker chips) to various individuals who were celebrating milestones in their path to coping with their addiction–1 month sobriety, 6 months, 1 year, etc. I’m happy to say that my friend received a six month chip last week.

Addiction is a terrible thing. It’s deceitful, manipulative, and painful. “It takes you further than you want to go, and teaches you more than you want to know. It costs you more than you want to pay, and keeps you longer than you want to stay.”

The following remarks were made several years ago by a member of A.A. in a letter to Ann Landers:

  • We drank for happiness and became unhappy.
  • We drank for joy and became miserable.
  • We drank for sociability and became argumentative.
  • We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.
  • We drank for friendship and made enemies.
  • We drank for sleep and awakened without rest.
  • We drank for strength and felt weak.
  • We drank “medicinally” and acquired health problems.
  • We drank for relaxation and got the shakes.
  • We drank for bravery and became afraid.
  • We drank for confidence and became doubtful.
  • We drank to make conversation easier and slurred our speech.
  • We drank to feel heavenly and ended up feeling like hell.
  • We drank to forget and were forever haunted.
  • We drank for freedom and became slaves.
  • We drank to erase problems and saw them multiply.
  • We drank to cope with life and invited death.

The good book tells us that alcohol is something that hurts and does not help.

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Pro. 23:29-32).

You know what’s interesting about this text? The writer transitions from those who are drunk to those who are just looking at it. What’s the point you ask? God, through His penman, is not regulating the behavior of the drunk (not approving it to be sure) but is rather challenging those who are sober and thinking about taking their first drink.

As I listened to the group participants at last week’s A.A. meeting, I got the impression that some if not most of them would have agreed with the Proverbs writer.

Some will argue that drinking is not the problem, but drunkenness is. Do you think any one of these folks at the meeting thought, “I’m going to take my first drink so I can become an alcoholic?” Do you suppose some of them said, “I’m thankful that my drinking cost me my marriage, my kids, my job, and sent me to jail?” Not one spoke favorably about what alcohol did for them. Not one of them started out saying “I want to be an alcoholic.” You know something else they had in common? Their problem with alcohol started by looking, and then taking their first drink.

I have no idea what it’s like to be drunk. I’ve never had a beer or glass of wine. I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with alcohol or drug addiction. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose relationships because of addiction. However, my friend does. Thankfully, my friend is doing so much better, but has a long way to go.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction of any kind, the best words of encouragement I can give you are these: love, patience, hope, positive re-enforcement, and friendship. Come to think of it, I can summarize it in one word — Jesus.

http://www.neilrichey.com

Unity and the Christian — Eric Diaz

It has been suggested that you can bind the tails of two cats together and they will be united. While they would be joined together, there wouldn’t be unity. Likewise, there are indeed hundreds of religions and church affiliations today but God has always desired there be unity among His people.

The idea of spiritual unity presents us with the goal of being united or joined together as a whole so there are no divisions among us (1 Corinthians 1:10). Not only does God desire that Christians be united in doctrine but also in matters of judgment and in our daily work within the church. We know from reading Ephesians 4:1-6 that unity is expected because there is only one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all. If we are not one with God, we are not united with Him nor with our brethren.

Let us explore a number of ways in which we can be united and how we can contribute to this unification:

Speak The Same Thing

God desires of His children to be of the same mind when it pertains to what we believe. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth because it was reported to him that there were contentions and division within the congregation. Paul sent Timothy to remind the Corinthians to imitate Paul as he taught the same thing everywhere in every church (1 Cor. 4:17). He also encouraged them to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). It is by the authority of Jesus and the standard of His word that they should have been united.

It is no different for us today. We must be perfectly joined together as brethren in order to be pleasing to God. If we cannot agree on sound doctrinal matters then we cannot be united. There are many passages that encourage us to speak soundly in our teachings and passages that warn of those who do not (1 Cor. 1:10; Titus 2:1-15; 1 Tim. 1:3-11; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; Gal. 1:6-10; Rom. 16:17-18).

Imagine if I had a stick, passed it around a crowded room, and asked everyone to tell me exactly how long they thought it was. You might hear twenty different answers based on each individual’s perception of length. It isn’t until a ruler is introduced that all in the room can be united in their agreement of its length. The same principle can be applied to what we believe and why we believe it. Unity isn’t based upon each individual’s perception of truth but by the spiritual standard that is the Bible.

God’s Word has been recorded in a way that makes it possible for us to understand it. Paul prayed without ceasing for the brethren in Colosse that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. By being filled with His will they would continue to grow together spiritually, being partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light (Col. 1:9-14). In order to remain in the light one must fight the good fight and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:6-8). By walking steadfastly in the light we have fellowship with God and with fellow faithful Christians, and the blood of Jesus Christ continues to cleanse us of our sins (1 John 1). May we never break a bond of fellowship that is in perfect harmony for the sake of our own desires.

Why Judge Your Brother?

An important facet regarding relationships with our brethren is not to bind our own convictions on others. There are some subjects that are matters of opinion and those who are strong must be patient with their weaker brethren. Likewise if you happen to be the weaker brother you would expect those who are more mature in the faith to be longsuffering. When we speak about matters of judgment we are talking about morally neutral topics according to the Bible but which still may affect a Christian’s conscience. In Romans 14 we read of the example that one believes he may eat all things while another eats only vegetables. If they do not judge or despise one another they will both stand because God is able to make them stand.

The type of language used describing scruples is very different than that used in matters of doctrine or salvation. In Romans 14 we read of such language: “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind,” along with, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother?” In verse 13 it closes out with this statement: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” If we are aware of a certain weaker brother’s faith we must walk in love. We are to consider our brethren and the possibility of giving up something that is not sinful of itself in order to preserve unity.

Another example of how to handle a matter of judgment can be found in 1 Corinthians 8. Concerning meat that had been sacrificed to idols, some would have violated their own conscience by eating it. There wasn’t anything inherently good or evil about eating the meat. Yet by eating the meat a more mature Christian would have sinned against the weaker brother by wounding his conscience. The attitude of Paul in this situation sums up how we are to walk in love: “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Cor. 8:13).

We Be Brethren

When it comes to unity between brethren I think of what Abram said to Lot: “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren” (Gen. 13:8). I especially like the KJV rendering “…for we be brethren.” Even though they parted ways soon after this, they remained brethren and Abraham would later rescue and intercede for Lot and his family. Sometimes we forget that as children of God, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. If we stick together we will be glorified together (Rom. 8:16-17).

Another Old Testament passage that can be applied to unity is Amos 3:3: “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” This makes me think of a three-legged race, where two people are united at the ankles and must work together to move forward. If you have ever seen or participated in one of these races you will inevitably see some awkwardly stumbling, some falling down and sometimes one will fall and the other will try to keep going. Unless there is agreement and cooperation between brethren some will walk disorderly, some will stumble and some will fall. Yet, the words of the psalmist still ring true: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

Bringing these thoughts to the New Testament, we can turn to 1 Corinthians 12 and read of the diverse members within the one body of Christ needing to be united. We are taught the importance of each individual, the necessity of the weaker members and how God composed and views the body. In verse 25 we read again that there should be no divisions within the body but all should have the same care for one another. There is no doubt that problems will arise. Yet the more time we spend with brethren in the word, the easier it will be to avoid or solve our problems. We will be united in our common faith. If one does stumble the rest will be there to encourage, to pray and to build him up on our most holy faith (Jude 1:20). While those who do fall away will feel the godly sorrow necessary to repent and return to the light. It is a wonderful thing to be unified with brethren of like precious faith by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Work of the Church

There are a number of scriptures that come to mind concerning how we can properly prepare ourselves to be united in the work of the church. The very first is 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I’m also reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which teaches us that the word of our living God is able to equip us for every good work. The Bible contains all that we need when it comes to being united in our work. In order for us to all be of the same mind and judgment we must be diligent in study, accurately handling the word of truth.

We must be knit together in such a way that our love for God will naturally lead to an unquenchable thirst and hunger for righteousness. Yet we must also grow together. One cannot remain on a milk-only diet while others feast upon the meat of the word. Ignorance of the scriptures can leave an individual vulnerable and we know how wolves and lions target the weak, sick and defenseless of a group. If those within the body, with Christ as the head, wear the necessary armor we will be able to stand together against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 5:23; 6:10-20).

If we can be truly united as God intended, the church will grow day by day both spiritually and numerically. We would have strong bonds and consideration for one another, stirring up love and good works. If we can be united with our brethren, in our doctrine and in matters of judgment there will be more time to carry out the work of the church. Without having to address constant dissension, discord and contention there will be more opportunities to study, to teach, to evangelize, to share the soul-saving gospel of Jesus Christ. If we can be united God will be pleased with us. We will be avoiding division and embracing unity (1 Cor. 1:10).

ericmigueldiaz@gmail.com

Complaining and the Christian — Stephen Hughes

When I was a teenager, I hated doing chores. My parents would tell me to clean my room, wash the dishes, or mow the lawn. I would eventually do it, but I would grumble and complain the whole time. The problem is I did not fully appreciate Paul’s exhortation: “Do everything without complaining and disputing” (Phil. 2:14, NKJV). Unfortunately some Christians ignore this exhortation, too.

The purpose for doing things without complaining and disputing is so “that [we] may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15). We need to be bright, shining beacons of God’s truth in this world. When we complain and dispute amongst ourselves, we tarnish that light and threaten to put it out—this harms our evangelistic efforts immeasurably. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus also tells us that we are lights to the world, a shining city on a hill, and that we should shine our light before men for the purpose of glorifying God in heaven. We cannot do this if we are complaining and disputing.

Earlier in that passage, Paul says that we should be humble toward one another, fulfilling his joy by being like-minded (Phil. 2:1-4). As we continue reading, Paul calls to mind the example of Jesus since “in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). When we get to Philippians 2:14, Paul has already exhorted us to be humble, and the image of Jesus’ perfect humility is fresh on our minds. If our Lord can be humble and not complain as He is being led to the cross to suffer and die, then we also can be humble and cease our complaining and disputing in our lives.

When we complain about things, we send a message to those who hear it. It shows a lack of humility and a lack of respect for those in authority. Peter offers his own exhortation in regard to church conduct: “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet. 5:5). With pride comes a lack of humility. When we complain and dispute with those in authority, whether it be in our local congregations, our jobs, or even our government, we are in danger of losing the grace of God.

Such an exhortation is not limited to New Testament times. The Israelites in the desert after their exodus from Egypt constantly complained and disputed with Moses and the Lord. Paul tells us about his ancestors, “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not … complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:6,10). Throughout the books of Exodus and Numbers we see how much and how often they complained to bring about their destruction.

There are six main instances in these books, three in Exodus and three in Numbers, where the Israelites complained and disputed. On the fourth occasion in Numbers 11, Moses found it difficult to continue as their leader through the desert since he had to bear the brunt of their constant complaining. This time they were complaining that they only had manna to eat—manna that they did not have to plant or harvest, but that the Lord provided for them. This trap of ungratefulness and taking things for granted is unfortunately easy to fall into; I am sure many of us would feel the same way if we had only one thing to eat for several months. In the very first verse of Numbers 11, we see the Lord’s anger was kindled due to their complaining. “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”

Even after Moses pleaded on behalf of the people to cease this destruction, their complaining did not end. They craved meat despite their constant supply of manna. We see in Numbers 11:11-15 just how much the people had driven Moses to anger and despair, to the point of praying for his life to end. As a result of his pleading, the Lord told Moses to set up a group of seventy elders to handle the day-to-day affairs of the people, to take the bulk of the burden off Moses’s shoulders. One wonders if this is a reason for a plurality of elders governing the church today.

Regardless, God sternly granted the Israelites’ prideful demands. “You shall eat [meat] … until it … becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you …’” (Num. 11:19, 20). We see in this passage that God did this, not because of their complaining, but because they despised the Lord. Therefore we can conclude that the Israelites despised the Lord through their complaining.

After the Israelites complained again and threatened to stone Moses, Aaron, and even Joshua when they heard a negative report from ten of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, the Lord appeared to Moses and said, “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” (Num. 14:11). Once again, we see that complaining is not mentioned here, but rejection and unbelief. The Lord equates such complaining and disputing with rejection of God and a lack of belief and trust in Him.

The Lord then said, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me?” (Num. 14:27a). Those who complain against God are called an evil congregation. A few verses later, God informs Moses and Aaron that because of their complaining and disputing, because they have despised and rejected the Lord, because they do not believe and trust in Him, and because they are an evil congregation they will be forced to wander the desert and never enter into the Promised Land. No one twenty years old or older will be allowed to enter, except for Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who offered a favorable report of Canaan.

Sometimes, however, the Israelites complained for very legitimate needs such as food and water, but they did not make their requests humbly and respectfully. There will be times when we may have a legitimate need that we must take before the elders. In Acts 6:1, we read, “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.” Here we see that the Hellenists had a legitimate need, and that they presented it to the Twelve, who did not chastise them for this complaint, but instead tended to their needs (Acts 6:2-6). It is not recorded how the Hellenists made their needs known, but because the response was not like that of God to the Israelites when they complained, we can conclude that there is an acceptable way to make a complaint.

If a congregation has qualified elders, they must “be blameless, … of good behavior, … able to teach, … gentle, not quarrelsome, … not a novice” (1 Tim. 3:3-6). These are qualities an elder must possess; therefore if one has a complaint, the elders will listen. If the complaint is just, they will follow the example of the Twelve by tending to one’s needs. If the complaint is not just, they will be able to teach the individual gently why it is not just. It is each elder’s responsibility to “[hold] fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Tit. 1:9).

When we complain and dispute with our elders and those in authority, we must not do so in the manner the Israelites complained to Moses, with a lack of humility and respect. If we do, we would be in danger of bringing anger and despair to our elders just as the Israelites did to Moses. We would also be in danger of despising and rejecting God, showing a lack of belief and trust in Him, and being an evil congregation. My brethren, we ought to avoid this at all costs. Sometimes, however, we do have legitimate needs that must be heard. These must be made humbly and respectfully before the elders, and we must adhere to their scriptural decisions.

slhughes315@gmail.com

Editorial: “We Must Pay Much Closer Attention To What We Have Heard…” (July/August, 2015) – Jon Mitchell, Editor

A few years ago, during the Twilight craze that was sweeping the nation and the world and causing teen girls to violently debate the merits of “Team Jacob” versus “Team Whoever” (I can’t even remember the other guy’s name), I had the privilege to teach teens at Palmetto Bible Camp and later at a youth rally at a church in the Raleigh area. The lesson I gave at these events was probably very different from what the teens were expecting.

I started out each session by asking how many had seen Twilight (99% had), how many went to the midnight showing on opening night (again, 99%), and how many had read the books (99% of the girls had). From there I asked them to tell me the name of the female protagonist (immediately, 100% could), the name of the actress who played her (about 99% could), the names of both of her love interests (100% again), the actors who played them (99%), the name of the town and state in which the story was set (about 90% could answer this), the titles of each of the movies and books (100%), the name of the author of the books (95% could immediately answer this one), a summation of the plot of each book and movie (99% could do this off the top of their head), and how the books were different than the movies (about 90% could immediately answer this one.)

To give the long-suffering guys a chance to play, I asked them to name me their favorite professional athlete, his age, the position he played and the team for which he played, the stats concerning how well he played and the salary he earned, the stats about their favorite team’s standing in its particular league, their favorite video games, the plot of said game, their favorite movie, the star of that movie, the character he or she played, etc., etc. As with the girls, the overwhelming majority of the guys could answer these questions correctly off the tops of their heads.

I then asked how many of them were Christians. 99% raised their hands. I asked them if they loved Jesus (100%). I asked if Jesus was #1 in their lives (about 95% said yes to this; perhaps the remaining 5% could see where I was going with this by that point.)

I then asked them to quote for me John 3:16 and to tell me who said it and to whom he said it. About 40% could answer the first two questions, and none of them knew to whom Jesus was talking when he said that. I asked them to tell me what I must do to be saved. About 60% could tell me that I needed to hear God’s Word, believe in it, repent, confess my faith, and be baptized. However, when I then asked them to show me exactly where in the Bible I could find each of these commands, only 5% could show me right then and there. About another 5-10% could after a few minutes of searching.

I then asked them if they found worship services boring. About 80% raised their hands affirmatively. I asked them how many of them had jobs, and of those who did how many gave generously to the church every Sunday. Only about 1-2% raised their hands. I then asked them if they found Twilight or football boring, and if they would spend a generous amount of money to be a part of those events if given the chance. All of them raised their hands.  I then asked them if they thought God would want them in heaven with him for all eternity if they care more about a movie or a sport than about praising him and learning more about his Word. The point was made.

Adults who are reading this, perhaps you might be thinking something along the lines of These kids today… Well, may I pointedly but respectfully ask us this. How different are we from these teenagers, really? When I started the ministry in my early twenties, I thought I would be surrounded by brethren who was as excited and willing to discuss the Bible as I was. It didn’t take long for me to find out that starting a serious Bible discussion outside of the prescribed Bible class and worship times in the church building was as difficult as pulling teeth for quite a lot of Christians, most of them older than me. Yet, simply mention the name of a politician, sports team, or television show and I was guaranteed to have started a conversation that in many cases would last longer than the average Bible class or sermon! Fast forward 15 years, and not much has changed.

Parents, if we want our children and their children to grow to be faithful, active Christians and thereby go to heaven, it starts by following the prescription of Deuteronomy 6:6-7. However, in order to do that we ourselves must first have that same interest and habit.

It’s no accident that God told us that the righteous man who “is like a tree” and “who walks not in the counsel of the wicked” is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-3), before very pointedly adding, “The wicked are not so” (v. 4). Brethren, our actions speak louder than our words. What consistently comes out of us in the form of our deeds speaks very loudly as to the true condition of our hearts (Mark 7:20-23). When we far more easily find delight and interest in topics other than the Bible and eagerly spend far more time focused on those things than on the Word, let’s not fool ourselves. We’re lying when we sing All to Jesus I Surrender and None of Self and All of Thee. We’re as lukewarm as the Laodiceans and as lacking of our first love as the Ephesians (Rev. 2-3). So let’s not be surprised if our kids feel the same way and are following in our footsteps.

Rather than sitting in judgment on them for sins we ourselves commit (Rom. 2:1, 17-24; Matt. 7:1-5), let’s humble confess our sins and repent (1 John 1:7-9; 2 Cor. 7:9-11) and then let God lead both us and our children in the right paths by spending more time studying his Word individually, as a family, as a church, and with the lost.

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Heb. 2:1)

Jon

The Name of the Church — Hugh Fulford

On one occasion, Leonard Johnson, one of the founders of what is now Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, was preaching in a gospel meeting in a small Alabama town.  One night he preached a sermon on the church.  In the midst of his sermon brother Johnson said, “Now within the next four to five minutes I am going to tell you everything the New Testament says about the name of the church.”  For the next four to five minutes brother Johnson was completely silent.  He did not utter a word.  Then he said, “There you have it – everything the New Testament says about the name of the church!”

Brother Johnson was absolutely right—the church, the body of people redeemed to God by the blood of Christ, does not have a proper, formal, exclusive, and patented name!  It was not and is not a denomination and does not wear a denominational designation.  Instead, the New Testament gives numerous descriptors for the church.  The church (the aggregate of all who have been saved by obedience to the gospel) is the spiritual body of Christ, of which there is but one (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4).  It is the spiritual temple of God, being composed of living stones (Eph. 2:19-22; I Pet. 2:4-5).  It is the house (household, family) of God, with every child of God a member of it (I Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:5-6).  It is the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13; cf. Acts 2:47).  Christ, in promising to build it, called in “my church” (Matt. 16:18).  A plurality of local congregations are designated as “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16).  At the same time, they also are described as “churches of God” (I Cor. 11:26), and the universal body of redeemed people is called the “church of God” (v. 22).  Geographically, the people of God are spoken of as the church at Jerusalem, the church of God which is at Corinth, the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the churches of Judea, the churches of Galatia, the seven churches of Asia, etc.  Modern Catholic and Protestant names are noticeably absent from the New Testament, and came to be applied to religious groups arising this side of the New Testament!

Churches of Christ today strive to be churches of the New Testament order.  We do not profess to be a denomination.  The use of the biblical descriptor “church of Christ” is not intended as our “official, exclusive, denominational name.” Any biblical descriptor is acceptable.  However, in our sadly divided religious world, it is practical to use rather consistently a descriptor that sets forth in a scriptural way those who are pleading for a return to the undenominational church of the New Testament and who are contending for “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Clearly, it is possible to use a biblical designation for the church in a sectarian and denominational sense and, sadly, many are doing that with the descriptor “church of Christ.”  At the same time, to use this scriptural designation does not make those using it a denomination.

Many years ago, the late Cled Wallace made some insightful observations about the “name” of the church that we would do well to consider today. He wrote: “Now I am somewhat of a stickler for calling the church anything and everything it is called in the New Testament and have said so over and over again in these and other columns . . . I am certain that the expression ‘church of Christ’ has been used in a sectarian sense, but not when it is applied to the right thing, however often it may be used.  It is misused only when it is employed to cover too little or too much or applied to something that is not it at all . . . Brethren keep me more uneasy sometimes by what they mean by it than they do by how often they say it” (Bible Banner, Volume IV, Number II, September 1941).

Let me say again: I am not Church of Christ (viewed as a denomination) in my religious affiliation.  I am not a Church of Christ (viewed as a denomination) preacher – no more so than I am a Church of God (viewed as a denomination) preacher, or a body of Christ preacher, of a kingdom of God’s dear Son preacher, or a temple of God preacher, or any of the other biblical descriptors for the people of God that may be corrupted into a denominational name or employed in a sectarian sense.  At the same time, I am a member of Christ’s church, the Lord’s church, the body of Christ, the household of God.  I can be such without being a member of any denomination.  So can anyone else.  Local churches can be churches of Christ without being a denomination.  There are many of us who are Christians only without denominational affiliation, members only of what the New Testament most frequently designates simply as “the church.”

huford@comcast.net