Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 3, 1967
NUMBER 13, PAGE 11b-12a

Keeping The Church Pure

Johnie Edwards

God expects the church to be kept pure. The apostle Paul said "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:27)

There are areas I would like to discuss with you at this time in which the church must be kept pure.

Conditions Of Membership

The church should be kept pure in conditions of membership. God has given the plan and it is not the job of the church to set up its own terms of membership. The conditions of membership are simple: (1) Hearing the word, Matt. 17:5; (2) Believing in Christ, John 8:24; (3) Repentance, Acts 17:30; (4) Confession of faith, Matt. 10:32; and (5) Immersion, Rom. 6:3-4, Mark 16:16. These conditions of membership must not be changed if the church is to be kept pure.

Sometimes people will fall away after meeting the primary steps of membership and the church has the problem of receiving the unfaithful. Sometimes the unfaithful will want 'to slip back in' without acknowledging their sin. The church must be kept pure in this respect.

Receiving all immersed folks into the membership is an area in which the church must be kept pure. It is true that Bible baptism is immersion (Rom. 6: 3-4) but not all immersion is Bible baptism! Bible baptism must have the right subject - the taught (Matt. 28:19;) the right element - water (Acts 10:47;) the right action - a burial (Col. 2:12;) the right purpose - remission of sins (Acts 2:38) to get into Christ (Gal. 3:27;) to get into the church (I Cor. 12:13) and in order to be saved (I Pet. 3:21; Mark 16:16.)

In Organization

If the church is to be pure in God's sight, it must be kept pure in organization. There is no universal organization through which the church is to function. The organization of the church is on a local scale. In writing to the Philippians, Paul states that the organization of the local church is composed of elders, deacons, and saints (Phil. 1:1.) The only organization through which the church can scripturally function is the local congregation. The authority of the oversight invested in the elders begins and ends in the local congregation where they are elders (I Peter 5:1-2.) Thus, it becomes unscriptural for an eldership to become involved in sponsoring activities for other congregations in any realm!

Since whatever God provides for the church is complete, (II Tim. 3:16-17,) the organization is complete and it becomes a violation of the authority of the Bible when an eldership turns the funds of the local church over to any other organization to do its work.

In Work

There are three realms in which the local church may engage. First, the church has the responsibility of preaching the gospel to saints and sinners according to its ability. (I Tim. 3:15, I Thess. 1:8; 11 Cor. 11:8, Phil. 4:16-17.) Second, the church has authority to conduct worship services. (Acts 2:42, Heb. 2:12; Acts 20:7, I Cor. 16:2, I Cor. 11.) Thirdly, the church has benevolent responsibility to needy saints. (Acts 6:1-6, Acts 11:27-30, I Cor. 16:1-4, Rom. 15: 26.) This work must be done within the frame work of the organization of the local church. When the church respects Bible authority and does just the work authorized in the scriptures, the church will have no church sponsored ball teams, banquet halls, area wide meetings and campaigns, church camps, colleges in the budget and any other unauthorized activities.

Attitude Toward Error

Many in the church are afraid to expose error, lest it cause trouble. We must earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3) and not be afraid to preach all the truth on any subject. If the church is to be kept pure the word must be preached in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine' (II Tim. 4:2)

In Speech

Paul said, "Hold fast the form of sound words..." (II Tim. 1:13) and speak thou the things which become sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1.) Peter said, "if any man speak, let him speak as theoracles of God." Departures from God's word are always reflected in the speech of those who depart. Here is a list of things we hear said which reflect a departure from the old paths. "I am a Church of Christ; Join the church; the christian sabbath; our fellowship hall for socials; the sponsoring church; the head elder; church sponsored recreation; college in our budget; christian camps, etc.

May God help us to work, live and pray to the end that the church be kept PURE.