"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VIII No.II Pg.26-27
October 1945

Marks Of The New Testament Church

J. A. Mcnutt

The world in general and religious people in particular ought to recognize that teachers and preachers have no more right to handle the Word of God deceitfully than the teller in your local bank has to juggle his books and misappropriate the funds of others. The thieving bank clerk if brought into court would land in jail, and the false teacher after judgment will dwell in torment. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8, 9.)

Modern Churches

Many churches have become famous because of the grandeur and splendor of their church buildings, the high educational attainments, or the gifted oratory of the minister. Others have gained favor among the people because of their social and recreational activities. They build a stage, sound the trumpets, and put on a show for the benefit of the world. The playroom displaces the prayer room. Lectures and book reviews take the place of Bible teaching and an ounce of Bible preaching against popular sins would cause as much consternation as a "block-buster" on Broadway. Such places are not churches; they are social clubs and recreational centers. There is a vast difference between the modern churches of today when they are contrasted with a model congregation of the New Testament period. Some one has written a poem on "The Modern Church" which will illustrate what I mean. It is too lengthy to quote in full but here are a few selections from the poem:

"Well, wife I've found the modern church and worshipped there today;

It made me think the good old times had surely passed away.

The meeting house was finer built than they were years ago,

But I found when I went in 'twas mostly built for show.

An usher led me down that stylish aisle (he knew that I was poor)

And found a plain uncushioned seat away back by the door;

I saw the people coming in-their silks a rustling made;

They did not come to worship God-it was a dress parade.

I wish you'd heard the music, wife, it had the opera ring,

The preacher did not rise and say, (Let everybody sing,

No, no, dear wife, that's out of date, they've got way up higher,

They don't make music in their souls, but praise God with a choir.

There was an organ and a horn, a banjo and a flute,

And almost every kind of thing that's used to squeak or toot.

It made me think of younger days when I attended balls,

They didn't sound the Savior's name, of Crown him Lord of all'.

I wish you'd heard the sermon, wife, 'twas not the old time truth;

It did not suit old men like me, nor help the giddy youth.

It did not speak of dying love, nor yet of rising, power,

Nor of the Father's watchful care, extended every hour.

He did not speak of church or creeds, the gospel's power to save,

Or whether we should pour or cross, or dip beneath the wave.

He did not say, Confess your sins' believe, repent or pray,

You could not tell there was a soul that needed aught that day."

These few verses from the pen of T. R. Burnett serve as an indictment of modernism in religion. Is it for social entertainment? Do you go to hear lectures on social, political, or economic issues? Do you go to church to hear a book review of some current, best-seller in the field of literature? Or do you go to church to hear God's word proclaimed, the Bible taught in its purity, and engage with other kindred souls in the most devout and sincere worship of God the Father? Jesus said to the woman at Jacob's well, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (Jno. 4:22, 24)

Vain Worship

Jesus further informs us that it is possible for us to worship God in vain. To the Pharisees, the strictest sect of that day, Jesus said, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mt. 15:8, 9) The religious world today needs to realize that a "thus said the Lord" is vital in all worship and teaching. God's revelation of the acts of worship, and the conditions of pardon, stands complete and final. He has given unto us all that pertains to life and godliness. (2 Pet. 1:3) We have a "Perfect Law of Liberty in Christ (Jas. 1:25), so we should be careful to continue therein. That which is perfect never needs amendment, substitution, or subtraction. In this connection lets read (Rev. 22:18, 29), "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Loyalty To The Truth

The church of Christ in your community believes in calling Bible things by Bible names, teaching the truth in its primitive simplicity, and worshipping the Father as the Bible directs. The power of plain gospel preaching, and the beauty and simplicity of a scriptural worship service are the only attractions we have to offer the world. We have no plea but the gospel and no creed except the New Testament. If you are interested in becoming better acquainted with a group of people who profess to be Christians only, here are a few considerations that will help you to understand:

1. Who We Really Are

The church of the Lord, in your community, is composed of those believers in Christ, who have become obedient from the heart to that form of doctrine delivered unto men. (Rom. 6:17) being thereby made free from all past sins, and having become children of God and heirs with Christ. (Gal. 3:26, 27) As heirs with Christ and followers of his teaching, the members of the church, wear the name Christian signifying their relation to Christ. (Act 11:26).

We believe that the whole heart of man composed of the intellect, emotions, and will power, must be completely turned from a love of sin and unrighteousness to an abiding love for God and right. This complete change of heart is accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. (Rom. 1:16)

The Spirit testifies through the gospel of Christ and we having heard this testimony, became believers in Christ. (Rom. 10:17) The gospel is the instrument that the Spirit used to produce spiritual life in our hearts, (1 Cor. 4:15)

Realizing that faith must work by love to avail anything (Gal. 5:6), we became obedient to the faith (Rom. 1:5) and at this point Christ became the author of our salvation. (Heb. 5:9) Our souls were purified by obedience to the truth (1 Pet. 1:22), and in our submission we acknowledged Christ as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."

Faith in the Spirit's testimony led us in godly sorrow to repent of all past sins. (2 Cor. 7:10) Then, realizing that salvation was possible only in Christ, we desired to enter into Christ where such spiritual blessings as redemption and the hope of Life eternal might be received. From the Spirit's teaching we learned that the believing, penitent person should be baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3), and that such a baptism is unto the remission of past sins (Acts 2:38), we were then "buried with Christ in baptism, and then raised to walk in newness of life.

All those baptized, who were baptized in accord with the Spirit's instructions, were added to the church by the Lord himself (Acts 2:47), so we also, by the same Lord, were in the same manner added to the same church. If not why not? Has the Law of reproduction failed? Has the Lord disregarded his divine plan of adding to the church daily, such as should be saved? No, the Lord has not failed, neither has the plan been altered. Comply with the conditions of pardon specified in God's Word today, and the Lord will still add you to his church now just like he has added thousands of others in ages past.

2. As To The Worship Service

We assemble on the first day of the week "To break bread" or observe the Lord's supper (Acts 20:7) and by this solemn service we keep alive in our hearts the memory of our Lord's suffering and death until some glad day we shall see him coming on the clouds of heaven. (1 Cor. 11: 17).

There is no melody sweeter than the heartfelt melody of human voices rising in praise and devotion, in "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Col. 3:16). And since the Lord commanded that we make melody WITH our hearts unto him in song, we do not presume to use a mechanical instrument which is wholly unauthorized in the New Testament.

We fully recognize the need and obligation of teaching and giving much time to the study of God's word. We also, as did the brethren in Jerusalem, desire to continue in the "Apostle's doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers." (Acts 2:42)

We are taught to give our means as we are prospered (1 Cor. 16:1, 2), out of which funds we support all the work of the church. The contribution on the first day of every week is assessed by Jehovah according to our ability, but there is no assessment by man, nor do we ever raise money by entertainment to support the Lord's work. "As a man purposeth in his heart, so let him give" (2 Cor. 9:8)

Do you know friends that the most desirable and happy life on earth is the Christian Life? And the way the Lord reveals in his word is clearly defined and will safely lead us home to heaven. Why not walk that way today?