Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 20, 1961
NUMBER 11, PAGE 4,13b

Those Bound Volumes


Once again it is time to mail out the bound volumes of the Gospel Guardian — Volume Twelve this time. Many brethren in time past have asked us to put them on the "permanent list" to receive the bound volume each year. For a time we tried this, but found it impractical and well-nigh impossible to maintain such a list. So we abandoned any effort to work on this basis, and have asked that all who want the bound volumes each year send in their own individual order for such from year to year. We continue to receive pleas for back volumes — volumes which we simply cannot supply. The ironic thing about it is that a great number of those who want the back volumes tell us that they "intended all the time" to order the book, but simply neglected it! Well, don't let it happen to you. As of the time this article is being written we have a very few copies of Volume Ten (less than a dozen), perhaps forty or fifty copies of Volume Eleven, and, of course, a full supply of Volume Twelve. No copies are available covering the first nine years.

We are getting quite a few orders now from churches for the bound volumes to go into their libraries. We would like to encourage this. A bound volume in a church library will be available to a great number of people for generations yet to come. Even if the congregation does not have the earlier volumes, it will be worth while to get whatever volumes may be available. Price of the individual copies is $5.00 each, regardless of the year. If you want any of the volumes available ORDER NOW!

Quite a number of brethren are writing and thinking these days about "fellowship." This journal has carried a number of articles on the subject, and in this issue concludes a series by brother Robert C. Welch on this theme. The premillennial organ, "Word and Work" has given much attention to it; Carl Ketcherside's "Mission Messenger" has in recent months been filled almost exclusively with writings on the problem; the "Firm Foundation" has carried several editorials on it; and the "Gospel Advocate" l, as likewise shown interest in the matter.

All of which serves to emphasize the importance brethren attach to "fellowship," and their concern as to the proper basis for fellowship. But, to be perfectly frank about the subject, we feel that many of the articles have been off the point. They have sought some basis (and have offered several probable grounds) on which "fellowship might exist" between and among the various factions, segments, parties, and schisms within the land. All of which comes at the problem from the wrong end of the horn.

The crucial matter for each individual is to determine beyond all peradventure of doubt that he is in fellowship with God. If he is, then is it not true that he is automatically in fellowship with every person on this earth who is also in fellowship with God? And does it not follow that if he seeks to establish fellowship with any person who is not in fellowship with God, such fellowship automatically puts this person out of fellowship with God?

This axiomatic (to us, at least) fact being understood, there is little point is arguing as to whether we ought to accept "simple faith in Christ," or "faith and immersion," or "faith plus immersion plus acceptable worship" as a proper basis for fellowship. It is hardly within the Christian's prerogative to set up standards or determine rules and levels of obedience at which "fellowship with God" may exist; the New Testament is quite explicit in setting forth those standards. And our only proper course is to be very certain we understand its teachings, and then apply its truths to our own lives and to the lives of others. If in any particular we depart from New Testament teaching, we weaken or perhaps even destroy completely the fellowship we have with God. He is longsuffering, to be sure, and does not cast us off and "withdraw the candlestick" precipitately; but any willful sin, either of a continued overt act or a hardened and persistent wrong attitude, is certain to terminate in a complete break in the fellowship the Christian has with God.

"Fellowship" between and among those who claim to follow Christ is not a matter to be worked out by give and take, compromise, mutual agreements and understandings; it is not to be settled by broad principles of love and "live and let live."

In this connection it might be well to recall once again the fact that there was a dual objective before the Campbell's, Stone, Scott and the leaders of the Restoration. One objective was to unite all "Christendom" into one great body; the other objective was to "restore" in the nineteenth century the kind of church which existed in the first century. In terms of broad generality it can be said that the "Disciples of Christ" have been historically more wedded to the first objective, and the "Churches of Christ" have been more concerned with the second objective. As between the two goals, the latter is certainly the more proper and fundamental. For once that goal is achieved, all who are in fellowship with God as faithful members of the body of Christ are in fellowship with one another. This is the only kind of fellowship God desires, and the only kind that ought to interest us.

— F. Y. T.