Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 24, 1950


Roy E. Cogdill

When Is "Christ Our Creed"?

When Christ came into the world, he limited himself to the message he had received from God. When the Holy Spirit spake to the apostles, he limited himself to the things he had received from God. When those apostles went out to preach, they were limited to that same message. Paul said, "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." (Gal. 1:6-8) The apostles had not the right to preach anything or to teach anything which they had not first received from Christ.

When, therefore, we believe what the apostles taught, we have "Christ as our creed." The word "creed" comes from a Latin word meaning to "believe." A man must believe something in order to be a Christian. When a man believes what Christ has taught, has Christ as his only authority in religion, rejects and refuses everything that Christ has not taught, that man then has Christ as his creed. That is exactly what the New Testament church does; and that is all it does. God's church on earth today, as in the days of the apostles, recognizes no authority other than Christ.

Councils And Conventions

There is no church council, big or little, that has any authority on this earth to legislate or prescribe for the church of God. No convention or assembly or synod has the authority to set forth one single doctrine for the church. When men go beyond the thing that Christ has taught, and add to or take from that which he has authorized, they can never be pleasing to God. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, "Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written." (I Cor. 4:6) When men begin to teach the doctrines and commandments of men, they have sectarianized the church of the Lord; they have made a denomination of the body of Christ.

But there is another point in this: A man may preach the doctrine of Christ, but give some particular doctrine emphasis over and above all the rest, and to the exclusion of some other teaching. He may sit in judgment over the word of God and magnify one thing that Christ taught to the repudiation and neglect of something else that Christ taught.

An Example From History

We have an example from history of that very thing happening. Out of the Puritan Movement that originated in England in about 1607, a body of people distinguished themselves by the emphasis they gave to the teaching of immersion. In protest against the unscriptural practice of sprinkling, they began to emphasize in every way possible the importance of total immersion. They were in bitter opposition to all the Anabaptists who had preceded them. As a result of the emphasis they thus gave to immersion, they became known in history as Baptists.

The original group of these people moved out of England into Holland in 1609; they came to the United States in 1639. One of their number, Roger Williams, baptized himself and several others in the state of Rhode Island. That was the beginning of what is known today as the Baptist Church in America. This church, having that origin, is unknown to the pages of the Bible. It did not exist in the days when the inspired men of God were penning these sacred pages. One can find no mention of it in the Book of Acts. Its doctrine, its organization, its worship, and its very name were unknown to the men who wrote the Bible. It came into existence because of an undue emphasis given to one particular teaching—the teaching concerning immersion.

Neglecting A Doctrine

It is well to remember that it is not only possible to over-emphasize a doctrine, but one can go to the other extreme and minimize or ignore a doctrine. For example, this same body of people who have given such constant emphasis to the scriptural action of baptism have completely denied and ignored and refused to accept the scriptural purpose or design of baptism. When God mentions baptism and salvation in the same connection, He always puts baptism first. It is never in any other way. It is first baptism, then remission of sins; first baptism, then justification; first baptism, and then the rejoicing. There is no exception to this. But the same ones who insist so on the proper method (if it can be called a "method") of baptizing, refuse and reject the plain teaching of the scripture as to the proper purpose or design of baptism.

This is the attitude that fosters and encourages denominationalism in the world. No man can have "Christ as his creed" while he is exalting one doctrine of Christ and repudiating another; no man is a true follower of Christ when he rejects, refuses, or repudiates one single thing that Christ has taught.

Some men have emphasized certain forms of church government to the neglect of a great many other things in connection with the church. They have come to accept certain names which are descriptive of forms of church government (Episcopal, Congregational, Presbyterian, etc.), and give emphasis to those things, while ignoring the simple doctrine of Christ on how to become a Christian and how to worship God acceptably as such. "Christ" is not the creed of such men; they do not accept what he taught; they accept instead the teachings and traditions of men.

No Distinctions

There is no distinction to be made between and among the commandments of God. If God wills it, if Christ taught it, if the apostles preached it, then no man has the right to declare it "non-essential." No man has the right to label as "unimportant" one single declaration of God's holy word. One promise of God is just as precious as another; one commandment of God has equal weight and authority with any other commandment. One requirement is as binding as another. When men begin to make distinctions where God has not made them, they are formulating human creeds—whether they put them into writing or not. The things that make a human creed is to depart from divine teaching, to believe and accept something not taught by Christ, or to reject something that was taught by him. Only when "Christ is our creed" can such dangers and such departures be avoided.



I have more than once called attention to the tendency in these modern days to give undue prominence to the power and value of money in church work and missionary operations. Some missionary men and papers seem to think that money is the only thing that is needed to convert the world. A greater mistake was never committed. It causes rich people in the church to feel that they hold the key to the position, and that their money is the power that runs the whole machine. They therefore soon become puffed up, and arbitrarily take the reigns in their hands and dictatorially run the whole thing. Seeing the church and the missionary boards so clamorous for money, the brethren get to be a little covetous and miserly themselves sometimes. And what wonder? The church loves money too well itself. And finally, the idea seizes the whole body of the saints that money is the most important thing in all the world, and they all begin to rustle for the cash. Brethren, it is a bad business all around. We need to get back to scriptural principles. Tell the miserly old sinners in the church to take their money and go to the bad with it. Tell them in the language of Christ that a rich man can't go to heaven anyhow. Tell them in the language of Peter: "Thy money perish with thee." Tell them, in the language of Paul: "Thy love of money is the root of all evil." Stop this continual hue and cry about money, as though it were the power of God unto salvation, and preach the gospel to this miserly, covetous, money-worshipping and time-serving generation till they are glad to turn the world loose, to escape the rich man's doom. Dr. Gordon puts the case clearly in these words:

"May God preserve us from turning our churches and boards into automatic missionary machines, into which we may drop our annual contributions, and then take out from consciences a year's discharge from all personal responsibility or heart anxiety for a perishing world! Better a penny with a prayer than a pound with indifference."

The tendency of the whole business is to cause folks to pay a few dollars to the missionary board and then go about their work feeling confident that the world will be converted in a few score years. And what wonder? Are not the boards making the impression that money is all they need now to convert the world? Brethren, quit it! —F. D. Srygley, (G. A. 1890)