Identity of the Church of Christ
I look forward to spending the next year with you discussing things that I consider important to the saints of God. I am deeply humbled by the request to write on this subject, and have confidence that many others have the ability to present these thoughts with more clarity and do a better job. But I will do my best to speak things clearly and concisely so that I may impart my understanding of the mysteries of Christ (paraphrasing Paul in Eph 3:4).
I also want to challenge your thinking by asking you to put away previous prejudice and examine these things as if you came across them for the very first time. Perhaps you will view these things in a different light and have cause to examine yourself as instructed in 2 Corinthians 13:5. Do not be afraid to view something in a different light, for perhaps you might find your current reasons and motives to be wrong. It is possible because, none of us are perfect, even though we try to be. Please approach this subject with honest hearts.
There are trends among the brotherhood of Christ that are a matter of concern for a few while many of the trends are of little consequence to most of the church today. Our relationship and fellowship with God is based upon the truth (John 17:17). We find more and more worldliness and ignorance on the part of the membership than in times past. We appear to be moving in the wrong direction.
In Hosea 4:6 God said "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge"
It appears that more and more church leaders are tolerating such lack of knowledge. Many elders no longer rule as they should (1 Peter 5:3), and many preachers have failed to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Even the saints in the pews do not show a care and concern for others as they are instructed so often in the scriptures.
Our age of political correctness and democracy have infiltrated the church along with the worldliness so evident in the lives of many members. In the church, we have the reputation of being right and pure, and being the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15).
Sometimes we separate ourselves from those who do not hold the same standards and we form our own sort of denomination. Now many of you are extremely upset that I would use such a word to describe the brotherhood because we have denied it as long as I can remember. As we look, we see that we are unique and different from those other groups who claim to be a church of the Lord, yet we know better. We know that they are wrong and we are right, and we don't want to be viewed as just another denomination.
Strangely though, we are the only ones who feel that way. For the rest of the world views us as another denomination. Where we are to be separate and different is in our faith, doctrine, and practice. We know, without reservation, that the Lord's church is one and only one (Ephesians 4:4). It is pure and holy and acceptable to God. As far as we know, none of the others are.
Whenever we try to explain to others in the world the difference between us, our knowledge shows forth. We know our knowledge is based on our faith, the rest of the world perceives arrogance on our part (1 Corinthians 8:1). Wishing to avoid the stigma of being arrogant, we take extraordinary measures to hide our arrogance, and by doing so, we create our own kind of unique denomination. Watch next month for the explanation. Until then, May the Lord richly bless you and keep you.
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