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Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:12-17
Why Are There Different Churches of Christ?
1. Review Part 1: Different churches of Christ exist due to:
a. Different attitudes toward the Scriptures (silence).
b. Differences on how to establish and apply Bible authority.
c. Led to innovations (additions) that go beyond doctrine of Christ.
2. What are some of these specific differences? What is the remedy?
I. THE INTRUSION OF ERROR INTO CHURCHES OF CHRIST, Gal. 1:6-7; 5:7; 2 Tim. 1:13 (Thyatira, Rev. 2:20-21, 24).
A. Many Churches have Distorted the NT Pattern of Local Church Organization, Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:2. [Reject so-called “pattern theology” – see quote below]
1. NT: Independent congregations function concurrently (2 Cor. 8).
2. Now: Centralization (sponsoring churches, multi-church organizations), intra-church organizations, extra-church organ.
3. By what authority? (Matt. 21:25)
B. Many Churches have Added to the NT Pattern of the Work of the Local Church, Eph. 4:11-16.
1. The social gospel, 1 Cor. 11:21-22, 34. (Advertise social events, arrange them, fund them, etc.)
2. General benevolence, secular education (schools), recreation… (Nashville Church of Christ Athletics)
3. Chart: NT pattern of the work of the local church.
C. More and More Churches are Changing the NT Pattern of Congregational Worship, Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:26.
1. Instrumental music has been added to worship, Eph. 5:19.
2. Women preachers are being trained and used, 1 Tim. 2:12.
3. Women leaders in worship assembly (read Scripture, teach, etc.); arguments are being framed to justify female elders.
4. Lord’s supper has been turned into “table fellowship” or “fellowship meal,” Acts 20:7, 11.
D. Too Many Churches have Compromised and Corrupted the NT Pattern of Morality, cf. Eph. 5:26-27.
1. By failing to teach morality and correct immorality, 1 Cor. 5:1-2.
2. Worldliness goes unchallenged:
a. Immodest clothing, 1 Tim. 2:9- 10.
b. Social drinking, 1 Pet. 4:3.
c. Lascivious conduct (social dancing), Gal. 5:19.
E. Many Churches Ignore the NT Pattern of Fellowship, Eph. 5:11.
1. By not consistently practicing church discipline, 1 Cor. 5:4-5, 11-13 (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15); Rom. 16:17.
2. By extending fellowship to those who teach and practice false doctrine, 2 Jno. 10-11; Rev. 2:20-23. (Use and endorse)
-By using and endorsing via gospel meetings (have false teachers preach meetings … “but not on their error”) (Eph. 5:11).
II. UNITY IN CHRIST REMAINS POSSIBLE, Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10.
A. Speak the Same Thing, 1 Cor. 1:10. Our message must be the word of the cross, 1 Cor. 1:18 (2 Tim. 4:2).
-Unity is built on and maintained by revealed truth, Eph. 4:4-6.
B. Have the Same Mind and Same Judgment, 1 Cor. 1:10.
1. Mind: Attitudes of unity, Eph. 4:2-3. (Respect for the Scriptures)
2. Judgment: Resolve to agree in truth, to respect allowed opinions, and to always exalt Christ and never promote self.
C. This Requires Constant Diligence, Eph. 4:3 (Heb. 10:24).
1. Can never say, “We have arrived,” and take unity for granted.
2. At times unity is strained, but will prevail by keeping:
a. Right attitudes of unity, 4:1-2 (Phil. 2:1-5).
b. Right standard of unity (truth), 4:4-6.
c. Right heart, message, and authority, Col. 3:12-17.
d. Where there is division among brethren (churches) we must be ready to communicate and study the Bible (to know and follow truth, and to repent of every wrong).
1. Unity is hard work. It is produced by the combined efforts of faithful brethren who love God, love His truth, and love God’s children, Eph. 4:3.
2. Let us unite in Christ on His truth, and not allow the devil to gain an advantage over us with sinful division.
“Thus we reject a rigid ‘pattern theology’ that simply proposes to transplant religious-cultural forms from the Bible to the 20th or 21st century.” (Rubel Shelly and Randall J. Harris, The Second Incarnation, p. 31)
“So, it becomes necessary to raise the question: is there an exclusive pattern of church cooperation taught in the Bible? My answer. No.” (Guy N. Woods, Cogdill-Woods Debate, 196)
No Pattern of Work
“The Bible does not provide an exclusive pattern for evangelism.” (Jackie M. Stearsman, “Church Cooperation and Evangelism,” The Harvester, Feb. 1997, http://www.fsop.net/harvest/1996_97/february.htm)
By: Joe R. Price
Posted December 11, 2019