Vol.XIV No.VI Pg.3
August 1977

Saying, But Not Doing

Dan S. Shipley

The following statement appears in the creed book of a popular denomination. Read it carefully. "'The Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." Similar statements can be found in nearly all denominational creed books, one would be hard put to better express the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures, except it be in quoting such passages as 2 Pet. 1:3 or 2 Tim. 3: 16, 17. Even the men who write the creed books say that the Bible is all we need. They acknowledge it to be the only standard of faith and practice in religion. They say that no man should be required to believe or practice anything other than what can be read in the Scriptures. Not only do the creed books say it, practically every member of every leading denomination professes to believe it! And, what may sound even more surprising to some is that most denominationalists believe themselves to be following the Scriptures. Those who may doubt such a statement need only to ask them.

Why then, one may well wonder, the great difference between denominational profession and practice? What they profess certainly cannot be faulted. In fact, it is my judgment that the above-quoted statement of confidence in Scripture, if truly believed and applied, would go a long way toward promoting unity and eliminating the divisions of denominationalism. Why then the disparity between what is said and what is actually done? For one thing, many simply do not know what the Bible teaches. It is much easier to assume practices to be right than to prove them so, as per 1 Thss. 5:21. Ignorance of right begets ignorance of wrong. The man who does not know what "the Holy Scriptures contain" on the subject of baptism is not likely to know that infant baptism is wrong. It cannot be "read therein or proved thereby", but what is that to one who makes no effort to either read or prove? We mean no disrespect to its members when we say that DENOMINATIONALISM HAS NO GREATER ENEMY THAN THE SCRIPTURES. It is good to affirm our confidence in the Bible but it is better to know, believe and abide in its precepts.

No man ever became a member of any religious denomination by following New Testament teaching. When men will reject all that cannot be "read therein and proved thereby", they will reject denominationalism itself. If not, then they will reject the teaching of the Bible, even if unwittingly. What many have not realized is that denominationalism does not offer optional ways of being right, but of being wrong! It is not a question of whether men are pleased with such religion. Many are. BUT IS GOD PLEASED? Again, assumption is easy. But there is only one way that any man can KNOW what pleases God and that is in following to the best of one's ability His will, the Bible. Abiding in THAT doctrine produces fellowship with Heaven as nothing else can. Failure to abide therein forfeits all (2 Jn. 9). We SAY it is sufficient — but merely saying so is not.