A PART OR APART
T. PIERCE BROWN
Do you want to be a part of the Lord’s church, or apart from it? There seems to be an increasing number of those connected with it in some fashion who would like to have all the blessings connected with being a part of it, yet who, by their language and actions indicate that they would rather be apart from it.
It is one thing to call attention to the shortcomings and failures of those that are or claim to be members of the Lord’s church, and another thing to ridicule the Lord’s church. If one determines what is the Lord’s church, or even determines who is a Christian simply in terms of how well he functions in all respects, there is no church or Christian on earth today, and in fact, never was.
I have been in a class where the teacher was pointing out what the Lord’s church was doing atJerusalem. For example, Acts 2:46, “And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.” The teacher made the point that they taught daily from house to house, and did various other things that we apparently were not doing. His conclusion was, this thing of which we are members is not the Lord’s church. He could have just as easily pointed to verses 44 & 45, “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need,” or dozens of other verses. Must we have all things common and sell all our possessions to be the Lord’s church? I raised then, and now, the question, “Did thechurchofGodatCorinthcease to be thechurchofGodbecause it was not functioning perfectly? Do you cease to be a Christian every time you fail to act as a Christian should?” The answer should be apparent to anyone who thinks, and knows anything about the Bible. Each of us needs to know the difference between sin and apostasy; between breaking a law and rebellion against the government. If a lawn mower ceased to be a lawn mower just because the blade needed sharpening, we would have more than a semantic problem on our hands.
Part of the thrust of this article is to suggest that those who want to be a part of the Lord’s church should do at least two things: First, learn what the Lord’s church is in its most basic sense. Second, learn how to criticize our failures, shortcomings and sins without denying the nature or value of the Lord’s church. If you do not want to be a part of it, then declare yourself apart from it, instead of trying to destroy it from within. If you do want to be a part of it, you must believe on Jesus as the Son of God, with all authority in heaven and on earth. You must be willing to submit to that authority in all things. You must demonstrate that willingness by repenting of every sin and being baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins. Then you should continue to do everything Christ wants. However, the fact that you will fail to do that from time to time does not mean that you have ceased to be a member of his body. It simply means that you are not functioning properly, and if you do not care enough to try to change, will be lost.