A Very Distubing
On too many occasions in the last several years, I have made some disturbing discoveries. Through my evangelistic efforts and dealings with various denominational "ministers" and academic institutions, I have come to realize that fewer individuals are acquainted with faithful churches of Christ. My observations are hardly scientific, but nevertheless alarming. I have been told that the church was once the fastest growing religious group in the United States.
Older Gospel preachers have informed me that the curriculum in denominational seminaries usually included information on the refutation of "church of Christ doctrine." Evidently this is no longer the case. In a recent encounter I had with several Baptist seminary students, only a few knew about the church of Christ, and that information came from the apostate group connected with the Boston cult (also called the International church of Christ or the church of Christ Jesus - the vestige of Crossroads). It has been my experience that most denominations do not know enough about us to know that we want to be distinctive and un-denominational. In the past, their "pastors" and "ministers" were educated about what we taught because they were losing members to the truth. Today, it seems we are no longer a threat. This, to me, is a disturbing discovery.
I realize that this problem is not ubiquitous. In many places, faithful congregations are evangelistic, distinctive, and having an impact on their communities. However, things are not what they once were. In some places, we have congregations that are content with only a few baptisms each year. Two-week Gospel meetings (or longer) on the fundamentals of the faith have become a thing of the past. Debates with the denominations are rare. And, too many people know little or nothing about the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Christ. Too many know nothing of the one true church and its worship, organization, mission, and terms of entrance. Too many continue to be enslaved by denominational dogma and other false religious systems, never realizing that abundant freedoms are to be found in the truth of the Gospel.
Indeed, there are too many who do not know. But where do we place the blame? Certainly, we can blame a Satan-filled world, ruled more by materialism than by the spiritual. We can blame the modernists who have destroyed, for many, faith in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. We can blame liberalism in the church, which has methodically stripped many congregations of their distinctiveness, and thus portray to the religious world that we are just like everyone else. We can blame cowardice, flippancy, and apathy. All of these are to blame for a religious world that knows nothing about the church. But it seems, from time to time, that we must blame ourselves. When we turn inward and forget to look outward to the fields that are white unto harvest, we can rest assured that the lost will not be saved. When we bite and devour one another, and are thus consumed by one another (Galatians 5:15), there will be none left to make our plea. When we spend time gossiping instead of evangelizing, the world will never know who we are. When we are divided instead of united upon God's Word, the world will not believe (John 17:21).
Defend the truth? We must! (Jude v. 3). Expose false teachers? Without question! (Romans 16:17). Keep the church pure? Absolutely! (1 Corinthians 5). But, let us do these things while we are immersing ourselves into regular, systematic, and organized efforts to reach those who have never known the truth. Let us go from house to house and in every public place, teaching and preaching Jesus Christ. Let us proclaim repentance and remission of sins among all nations. Let us rediscover the power of the Gospel to convert the world!
By John Moore
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