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   Chapter 6 THE CHURCH SINCE THE APOSTLES.

To Infidelity and Back By Henry F. Lutz Characters: 41539

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The Apostasy of the Church.

The apostolic unity of the church was maintained for about three hundred years. During this period the church endured the ten great, general persecutions directed against it by the world-ruling Roman Empire, which resulted in the martyrdom of almost all of the Apostles and multitudes of other Christians. Despite the opposition of the mightiest powers on earth, the church scored the most marvelous victories and was on a fair way to conquer the whole world for Christ. Satan, perceiving that his opposition to a united church under the leadership of Christ was fruitless, now tried to get within the church and to shear it of its power by confusing its counsels and dividing its forces. Christ said, "Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand" (Matt. 12:25), and Satan knew that if he could get Christians to exhaust their energies by contending with each other, their conquest of the world would be at an end. He filled the church with speculative philosophy, heathen idolatry and the worldly spirit in general. As always, he used the pride, vanity and ambition of individuals to accomplish his purpose. If fallible human leaders and their opinions could be put in the place of the infallible Christ and his teachings, the work would be done; because this would arouse the opposition of other ambitious human leaders and thus the church would be torn asunder and exhausted with internal strife and divisions. Alas that the church did not heed the earnest warning of Paul, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:17, 18). The selfishness of leaders and the lazy, careless indifference of the masses who blindly follow on, is what makes the creation and perpetuation of divisions among Christians possible. Perceiving that the division of the church would destroy its power, its leaders strove with might and main to preserve its unity. Had they exalted the Christ and used his Word, the sword of the Spirit, they would have succeeded. But they were ambitious and worked for a united church so they could use its power to exalt themselves and their opinions and crush those opposed to them. Human creeds, as standards of orthodoxy, were invented, and more stress was put on correct speculative opinions than on faith in Christ and Christ-like living. Persons who would not subscribe to the speculative opinions of man-made creeds were persecuted and anathematized. The church formed a league with worldly rulers and used the strong arm of the law to crush those who would not accept its human standards of orthodoxy. The Inquisition, with the dungeon, stocks, guillotine and other diabolical means of torture, was called into requisition. It is claimed that no less than fifty million human beings were martyred in this effort of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, calling itself the church, to maintain unity on a human creed. Although this effort at union was largely successful, it was not Christian union. Paul says that Christian union is where Christians are of the same mind and judgment and all speak the same things (1 Cor. 1:10), while this union was maintained by suppressing conscientious convictions and their utterance.

The Reformation of the Church.

The effort at a forced union on a speculative human creed was never entirely successful. In the fastnesses of the mountains the Waldenses, Albigenses and others, maintained their religious freedom. The fire of religious liberty was smouldering, but not extinguished. It was covered with the black coals of ecclesiastical ignorance, brutality and tyranny; but by and by it worked its way to the light and illuminated the darkness of the age. The great Reformation burst forth into a mighty inextinguishable flame all over Europe, and, overleaping great barriers, it blazed forth in America. The ecclesiastical shackles were torn asunder and the people were set free. I speak of the ultimate outcome, for this end was only attained after centuries of effort. Hereditary religious ideas, prejudices and customs become petrified, and it is only with the most desperate and long-continued efforts that individuals and bodies of people can free themselves from them. Failing to recognize how they are blinded through hereditary bias, environment and limited ideas, people imagine they have attained unto the ultimate truth, and thus their growth in knowledge ceases and they become fossilized into a sectarian party. People imagine that they are free when they are delivered from religious and political tyrants that persecute and oppress them; but their greatest bondage, and the one that makes the others possible, is the hereditary and acquired prejudice, bias, bigotry and ignorance within themselves. The struggle of the Reformation was for religious freedom. This struggle was by no means always unselfish and consistent. Protestants as well as Roman Catholics used force to crush those that would not submit to their creeds. Both in Europe and in America men's bodies were tortured and destroyed with the hope of saving their souls and in the endeavor to maintain the unity of the church. Even where the church and the state were separated so that the church could not use the civil law to persecute its opponents, other means of coercion were used, such as boycotting, ostracism, excommunication and anathemas. The idea of the Roman Catholic Church is that you cannot trust the people to interpret the Bible for themselves; the Pope and the church must do it for them.

The idea of Protestant sectarian creeds is largely the same. The members cannot be trusted to interpret the Bible for themselves, so the creed-makers have to do it for them. The difference is in degree and power of oppression rather than in kind. The entire idea is fundamentally wrong. Speculative theology cannot save any one and sectarian creeds are harder to understand than the Bible itself. The people need the living, loving, personal Christ, and not the dry husks of speculative theology. We want uniformity in matters of faith that are clearly revealed and in allegiance to Christ, but do not need it in speculative opinions based on inferences as to what the Bible teaches.

Freedom is absolutely necessary to progress and civilization. But freedom may be turned into a curse as well as a blessing. Criminals want freedom to gratify the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:13). Those in bondage to their own carnal nature must be put under restraint by those governed by moral principles. Even Christians need to be guided and governed in spiritual matters, and have always felt this need. The trouble has been that mortal men have been accepted as authoritative spiritual guides, or have tried to control the religious convictions and practices of their fellow-men by force. Christ is the Christian's only safe and proper guide. As a final result of the Reformation the Christian people in America and parts of Europe were set free from religious tyranny and left to choose their spiritual guides. Although they professed that the Bible was their only authority, they accepted human leaders and their opinions as guides and permitted these to interpret the Bible for them. Thus the freedom of the Reformation was turned into the curse of division and sectarianism. Divided Protestantism is better than the religious tyranny of the Dark Ages; but it is bad, and will be replaced with the Christian union of the New Testament when loyalty to Christ and his Word is substituted for loyalty to human leaders and their opinions embodied in creeds. Christ said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation" (Matt. 12:25). The truth of this has been sadly demonstrated in our divided Christianity. In how many homes has sectarian division wrought havoc with its religious life! How many husbands and wives have been lost to active service for the Master because of the chilling effect of indifference or opposition through sectarian differences! How many children have become indifferent or disgusted with religion, because their parents differed in their religious convictions! Again, look at the effect of sectarian division in a community. Five church buildings and preachers where one could do the work, while the balance could be devoted to the evangelization of the heathen. But the financial loss is the least. Preachers are poorly supported and therefore poorly equipped for their work, and people are encouraged to join the churches on almost any conditions through rivalry and the need of support for so many churches. Sinners go unrebuked through fear that their financial support will be lost; and, if disciplined, they are often received with open arms into a rival church. When we look at the kingdom of Christ at large, we see how it has come to desolation because of divisions. Millions of dollars are wasted in rival churches, colleges, papers, preachers, books, etc.; while the heathen stand with amazed incredulity before the missionaries of a babel of denominations. Verily the reformed church needs reforming.

A Movement for Christian Union.

Divided Protestantism reached its climax in America at the beginning of the last century. This land of freedom offered a congenial soil for its perfect development and unfolding. Thus were exhibited more fully than ever before the sin and folly of such divisions. The forces of Christ were largely wasted and defeated through sectarian strife, and there was the bitterest feeling even between different branches of the same denomination. Infidelity was rampant in the land and Christianity was at a low ebb. However, the love of the Master was strong in many hearts, and these longed and prayed for better things. As by divine inspiration, a great union movement sprang up simultaneously in different parts of the country. The outcome was what may be called the American Reformation, but is more properly called the Restoration movement. The burning desire of the promoters of this movement was a reunion of the divided followers of Christ. After a thorough and prayerful consideration of the subject, it was decided that the only possible basis of union is the Bible; and so the motto was adopted, "Where the Bible speaks we will speak, and where the Bible is silent we will be silent." It was decided to require a "thus saith the Lord" or an apostolic example for every item of teaching or practice. The reformers expected to bring about Christian union without leaving their respective denominations and forming a separate religious body. But an application of their motto in the study of the Bible led to results that they never dreamed of. They were compelled to give up their sectarian practices one by one, and soon found themselves forced out of the denominational bodies. It now became clear to them that the real cause of the origin and perpetuation of sectarian divisions was the human element, in teaching and practice, added to the church since the days of the Apostles; and that nothing but their removal and the restoration of the primitive church in name, creed and deed, could bring the Christian union of New Testament times. Learning that, aside from the Apostles, there was no ecclesiastical authority or organization in New Testament times, above the local church, they proceeded to organize local churches of Christ after the primitive model, and invited both saints and sinners to unite with them in this work and in protesting against the sin of sectarian divisions.

The Restoration of the New Testament Creed.

In the evolution of the movement for Christian union, it was soon discovered that human creeds, as standards of church or ministerial fellowship, are divisive in their nature and prevent the reunion of God's people. All claim to get their creed from the Bible; but since creeds contradict each other in doctrine, they cannot all be right, although they may all be wrong. Human creeds are responsible for most of the heresy trials and have armed most of the infidelic attacks upon the church. The only way to permanently solve the creed problem is to restore the divine creed given by the Holy Spirit to the primitive church. This is the only true Apostles' Creed and the only one that will never need any revision. This is none other than the divinity of Christ, the central truth of revelation and of Christianity. Jesus said, in answer to Peter's confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16: 16, 18). John declared of his Gospel, "These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31). Paul commanded, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31), and said, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:11). This is what the Apostles preached everywhere, and required as a condition for baptism and church membership; and it is the only creed they ever required. The church is not founded upon a system of speculative theology that even the learned cannot understand, but upon the loving, divine personality of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Get Jesus in the heart, and belief in his word and a Christ-like life will inevitably follow. This is the only creed that can reunite divided Christendom. Christians cannot unite on human leaders and their finite opinions, but they can all unite on Christ.

The Restoration of Bible Names.

It was further discovered that human names for God's people were divisive in nature and a barrier to Christian union. There is nothing in a name until it becomes authoritatively attached to a person or thing, but after it becomes so attached, there is as much in the name as in the person or thing. Since the name Andrew Carnegie became attached to him, it is worth as much in money and influence as Mr. Carnegie himself is worth. Thus it is that there is salvation in the name of Christ. "For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

The Bible names given to the church and to the followers of Christ, express true ideas and relationships; while the human names since added express false and unscriptural ideas and relationships. The church and its members should be named after Christ because they belong to him; for the same reason it is wrong to call them after any other person or thing.

Paul writes, "Every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (I Cor. 1:12, 13; 3:4). "I pray you," said Luther, "leave my name alone, and do not call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians. Who is Luther? My doctrine is not mine. I was not crucified for any one. Paul would not that any should call themselves of Paul, nor of Peter, but of Christ. How, then, does it fit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to give my name to the children of Christ! Cease to cling to these party names and distinctions! Away with them all and let us call ourselves Christians, after him from whom our doctrine comes!" Those engaged in this restoration movement heed the admonitions of Paul and Luther and call themselves "Christians," or "disciples of Christ," while they call the churches, "churches of Christ" or "churches of God." They do not use these names in a sectarian, but in a Scriptural, sense. They do not claim to be the "only Christians," but aim to be "Christians only." We read in Acts II:26, "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." "If any man suffer as a Christian," says Peter, "let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this name" (I Pet. 4: 16). Any name used to designate a part of the followers of Christ and to separate them from the rest, is wrong, because it expresses a wrong and unscriptural idea. "Would to God," said Wesley, "that all sectarian names were forgotten, and that we, as humble, loving disciples, might sit down at the Master's feet, read his holy word, imbibe his spirit, and transcribe his life into our own!" John says, "We shall see his face and his name shall be in our foreheads" (Rev. 22:4).

The Ordinances Restored.

In addition to the restoration of the New Testament creed and names, it was found that there can be no organic Christian union, after the primitive type, without a restoration of the ordinances as administered by the Apostles. Protestants all accept two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper, but they differ greatly in the manner of observing them. Some have open and others close communion. Some observe the Lord's Supper monthly, others quarterly and still others annually. In looking for apostolic precepts and examples, it was found that the early Christians met on every first day of the week to break bread; and that each Christian was commanded by Christ to partake of the Lord's Supper, after examining himself to see that his heart was prepared for this spiritual feast. We have neither the authority to decide the frequency of the service, nor who shall partake of the Supper.

The greatest hindrance to a practical working union of the followers of Christ is the babel of teaching and practice as to baptism. Some hold that the mere baptism of infants will save them, while others belittle baptism or ignore it altogether. Some baptize infants, others only adults. Some sprinkle, some pour, and others immerse for baptism. Some sprinkle, pour or immerse, just as the candidate wishes it. Does the New Testament teach this babel of confusion or has it come from human inventions and additions? It has already been pointed out that only those who had previously been born of the Spirit, or undergone a change of heart through faith and repentance, were baptized by the Apostles. We are told that Jesus never baptized any one (John 4:2), therefore he never baptized any infants. If we examine carefully the cases of household baptism recorded in the New Testament, we will find that in each case infants are necessarily excluded; as those baptized "heard" (Acts 10:33), "believed" (Acts 16:34), "were comforted" (Acts 16:40), "addicted themselves to the ministry" (1 Cor. 16:16), etc. These acts all refer to people who had reached the age of intelligence and accountability and, therefore, cannot refer to infants. Infant baptism is based on two errors that crept into the church-the doctrines of infant damnation and baptismal regeneration. Infants are saved without baptism, for Jesus said "of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:14), and baptism is of value only because of its relation to Christ and the faith of the sinner (Mark 16:16). The greatest emphasis we can put on baptism is to say that Christ commanded it and made it a condition of salvation to those that hear the gospel and have the opportunity to obey it. To refuse to obey this or any other commandment of Christ, reveals a rebellious heart that cannot be saved.

Of the action of baptism we speak in a previous chapter, therefore we need not treat of it here only to say that all churches agree that the immersion of a penitent believer in water is Scriptural baptism, and this is the only practice on which all can unite. Thousands of those that are contented to be Christians only have given up sprinkling and been immersed after studying the Bible on the subject.

The Bible Restored.

Christian union on the primitive gospel necessitates the restoration of the Bible to its proper place and authority. Sectarianism has largely displaced it with creeds and other human standards. Recently I read the following in an introduction to a catechism: "This catechism has well been called a Bible for the laity." When we remember how contradictory, and, therefore, erroneous, these human deductions as to Bible teaching are, we can see the need of putting them aside and restoring the Bible as the Christian's all-sufficient and only sufficient guide.

The Bible has also been thrust aside and kept from the people by false theories of conversion and the consequent erroneous practices in evangelistic work. People have been taught that they are totally depraved and can do nothing towards their conversion, that faith is a direct gift of God, that the Holy Spirit converts sinners by immediate miraculous power, that the evidence of pardon is in dreams, visions or fe

elings, and that sinners have to wait until God by entreaties is reconciled to save them. All these theories are erroneous and logically set aside the entire gospel plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit, through the Apostles, used the truths of the Word or gospel to convict sinners, and taught penitents, out of the New Testament, on what conditions they could inherit the salvation Christ purchased on the cross. The sinners that wanted to be saved accepted this salvation by complying with Christ's conditions of pardon, and went on their way rejoicing, because they had the infallible Word of God for it that they were saved. In other words, the Apostles preached the gospel, and penitent sinners were immediately saved by believing it (Mark 16:16), repenting of their sins (Acts 2:38) and openly committing themselves to Christ in baptism (Acts 22:16).

Finally, the Bible has become a meaningless riddle and uninteresting to most people because it is not rightly divided. It is assumed that all parts of the Bible are addressed to everybody. This is far from the truth. While we must recognize the unity and interdependence of the entire Bible and that each part teaches great spiritual truths for all, we must also remember that its different parts contain specific precepts addressed to different classes of people and only applicable to them. Thus the Mosaic law was for the Jews only, and was superseded by the gospel (Gal. 3:24, 25). Turning to the New Testament, we find that the four Gospels were written to make believers (John 20:31), the Acts of the Apostles, "Book of Conversions," to tell and show people how to be saved or become Christians (see chapters 2, 8, 16, etc.), while the rest of the New Testament is addressed to Christians or church-members as their rule of faith and practice. The churches in this Restoration movement aim to restore the Bible to its primitive place in producing penitents, guiding them unto salvation and in giving all instructions to the churches needed for their edification and guidance.

Restoration of the New Testament Church Government.

We have learned that all sectarian divisions have resulted from exalting human leaders and their opinions. Ambitious ecclesiastics have exalted themselves with the help of misguided people; and, usurping authority, have lorded it over God's heritage. How wide the difference between the simplicity of the primitive gospel and the pompous ecclesiastical organizations and titles of modern times! It is self-evident that Christian union cannot be restored until this ecclesiastical machinery be put aside and the administration of Christ's kingdom be again entrusted to the local churches and their officers as in New Testament times.

It will be noticed that this modern movement for Christian union does not seek to introduce new doctrines into the religious world. It seeks rather the restoration of the old Jerusalem gospel with its doctrines, ordinances and fruits. Its promoters thoroughly believe in all the truths accepted by evangelical bodies and simply strive to remove the sectarian growths that have fastened themselves to the old ship Zion during its course through the centuries. Among its favorite mottoes are these:

No Book but the Bible.

No Creed but the Christ.

No Plea but the Gospel.

No Name but the Divine.

In Christ-Unity.

In Opinions-Liberty.

In all Things-Charity.

Is One Church as Good as Another?

The mere hint that there might be something in the doctrines of different churches that is erroneous and needs to be dropped or modified, is usually met with a frown of disfavor, by the supersensitive sectarian world. The sectarian sore is grown over with the agreement to disagree, and woe unto the doctor that insists on probing the wound to effect a cure. The effort at probing is usually met with the declaration, "One church is just as good as another, they are all aiming for the same place." Let us try to discover what truth or error is wrapped up in this statement, and what are the religious conditions that inspire such declarations. In the first place, it shows a disposition to apologize for sectarian doctrines rather than to defend them. This is a hopeful sign. All the large denominations in America originated in European countries under the bitter religious controversies and cruel political strife that followed the Dark Ages. It was these stormy and abnormal conditions that gave birth to these sects and largely moulded their peculiar doctrines. One extreme begot another, and while each of these denominations emphasized some neglected religious truth, it emphasized it so strongly as to often twist it into an untruth or out of proper relationship to other truths. The people in free America are not interested in the polemical controversies that resulted from religious and political conditions in the old countries. Thus it has come to pass that scarcely any denomination seriously and persistently urges the ideas that gave it birth, and their creeds have to be revised continually to hold their preachers and church-members. The result is that the great mass of the members of the sectarian churches neither know nor care what the creeds of their churches teach. I say that this is a hopeful sign, but there is also a great danger involved in it. Learning that the doctrines of their own and other denominations are not of saving or vital importance, people are likely to jump to the conclusion that no religious doctrines are of vital importance, and so lose their interest in Christianity. No one can deny that thousands have reached this condition, and are either members of no church or merely nominal, indifferent members. Since all sectarian doctrines are of human origin and of no vital, saving importance, we can endorse the statement that, from a sectarian standpoint, one church is just as good as another.

We will also grant, for the sake of the argument, that from the standpoint of piety, talent, learning and consecration, one church, on an average, is just as good as another. But does this go to the bottom of the subject? The doctor who, through ignorance of medical science, gives your child medicine that cripples it for life or kills it, may be just as good morally and intellectually as other doctors who know their business. His blunder of ignorance may not destroy his hope of heaven; but is that a reason why you would just as soon have him treat your child as another doctor? So sectaries who teach erroneous doctrines may be just as honest, consecrated and learned as those who teach the gospel truth; but does it make no difference to the cause of Christ and the salvation of souls, whether they teach sectarian vagaries that divide and desolate the church, or exalt the Christ and his Word so as to unite all his followers in the conquest of the world? But, you ask, how can good and learned people differ so in their beliefs? We may not understand how it is, but we know it is and ever has been so. Our minds are so constituted that we must see all truths alike, logically, mathematically and in every other way, if we see them at all. The trouble is that our vision is so warped through prejudice and limited ideas and information that we fail to see the simplest truths, and find in the Bible and elsewhere what we bring with us through heredity and environment. The Bible recognizes this truth. Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Paul says, "I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1:13), and again, "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). It may seem paradoxical, but it is nevertheless true, that the greatest hindrance to the spread of the truth of God has come from pious, consecrated and God-fearing souls who were misled by their hereditary prejudices. The majority of those converted under the preaching of the Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, were devout saints who needed to be delivered from their hereditary Jewish prejudices and enlisted in the re-alignment of religious forces for the conquest of the world for Christ and his kingdom. The Pentecostians were "devout men," the eunuch was a devout worshiper, Saul of Tarsus was a conscientious man, Cornelius was devout and a philanthropist. A large per cent of the Jews were honest and devout people, but were fighting against Christ because they were blinded by hereditary religious ideas. Peter, even after Pentecost, was subject to these influences, for it took ten years, with special miraculous manifestations, before he could see that Gentiles were creatures to whom the gospel was to be preached as well as to the Jews. While sectarian divisions are largely due to selfish and wicked men, most of them are due to devout Christians who are misled by inherited prejudices or simply drift with the tide.

If these things are true, we should tremble lest we are upholding error and opposing the truth unintentionally through hereditary bias. We should make a prayerful and diligent search for the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. Although we have discovered that none of the sectarian doctrines are of vital importance, let us remember that it is different with "the faith [system of teaching] which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) by the Apostles and for which we are duty bound to "earnestly contend." Since so many devout and learned preachers are teaching so many contradictory doctrines, which cannot all be true, let us not accept their statements unchallenged, but let us test them (I John 4:1-6) by searching the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11). After that we are assured that we have found the truth ourselves, let us "be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves: if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (2 Tim. 2:24-26). In view of the fact that at least the great majority of the members of denominational churches must be in error, it should be a crowning glory to change one's religious affiliations through an investigation of the truth. The hope of the cause of Christ lies with those who, hearing the voice of God's truth in their conscience, are ready to obey it, even if it results in breaking the dearest human ties and leads to ostracism and persecution. Almost all the promoters of this union movement have themselves found their way out of sectarianism after heart-rending efforts to rid themselves from their hereditary prejudices and errors. They are simply entreating others to do what they themselves have done, for the sake of Christ's cause, and help to establish local churches of Christ after the Apostolic model. That they have fundamentally reoccupied the primitive ground is admitted by all who have fairly investigated the subject. If they are yet in error on any points, they are in a position and ready to correct these as fast as they discover them through a further study of God's Word.

The Church Triumphant.

Christ declares that the evangelization of the world is dependent upon Christian union. Therefore, the ultimate triumph of his church necessitates the triumph of Christian union. We praise God for every movement that looks toward a closer union of Christians; but we are sure that nothing short of the removal of every vestige of denominationalism and the complete restoration of the one body or church of New Testament times will satisfy the demands of God's Word. A number of forces such as the Sunday-school, C.E., Y.M.C.A., Evangelical Alliance and Church Federation are destroying the sectarian spirit and the field is getting ripe unto the harvest for the restoration of the unity of the early church with its converting power. The success of this movement for Christian union on the primitive gospel has been phenomenal. In eighty years its adherents have increased from ten thousand to about one and a third millions. The per cent of gain in membership, from 1890 to 1905, in the six American religious bodies that number a million each was as follows: Christians or disciples of Christ, 94 per cent.; Roman Catholics, 73 per cent.; Lutherans, 51 per cent.; Methodists, 40 per cent.; Baptists, 38 per cent., and Presbyterians, 35 per cent. Barring out the Catholics and Lutherans, who get most of their gain by immigration, the Christians or churches of Christ show more than double the gain of the other three bodies. We glory in this growth only as the glory of Christ is involved in it. It is an earnest of what Christian union will do even through very imperfect instruments. What will the harvest be, when the prayer of Jesus is answered and all his followers are united in one "glorious church, holy and without blemish, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Eph. 5:27), going forth to the evangelization of the world "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners," "looking forth as the morning" (S. of Sol. 6: 10)! May the prayer of Jesus for the union of his followers be our prayer, and may we do all in our power to bring a speedy answer! Amen.

The following is a splendid statement of the aim of the Restoration movement. I do not know its author:

OUR AIM.

1. The restoration of primitive Christianity and consequent union of all the followers of Christ in one body.

2. To build a church of Christ, without a denominational name, creed or other barrier to Christian unity, whose terms of fellowship shall be as broad as the conditions of salvation and identical with them.

3. To lead sinners to Christ in the clear light of the New Testament teaching and example.

I have summarized the situation as I see it as follows:

ARE THESE THINGS TRUE?

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES AND SEE. ACTS 17:11.

1. Christ wants all of his followers to be united in one church as they were the first three centuries (John 17:20, 21; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Eph. 4:1-6; Rom. 15:5-7).

2. Sects and divisions among Christians are wasteful, carnal and sinful and result from exalting human leaders and their opinions above Christ and his opinions revealed through his Apostles (1 Cor. 3:1-4; Rom. 16:17, 18; Gal. 5:20).

3. As soon as we drop human names, creeds and customs and build churches after the divine model, by teaching and practising as the Apostles did, the unity of the primitive church will be restored (Heb. 8:5; 1 Cor. 11:16; Jude 3).

4. Churches on an average are about the same in piety and consecration, but so long as they teach contradictory doctrines they cannot all be right, but may be wrong. Therefore you should examine for yourself and be sure you are guided by God's Word rather than by inherited traditions which perpetuate sects (Mark 7:6-13).

The following guide to salvation, which I take from one of my circulars used in gospel work, has the merit of being taken entirely from the Word of God, except the word "warning" and the few words in parentheses. If it is in harmony with the context, and we sincerely believe it is, then it is an infallible guide, and those who follow it cannot be mistaken.

"These men are the servants of the most high God which show unto us

THE WAY OF SALVATION"

(Acts 16:17).

"WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?" (Acts 16:30; 2:37; 9:6).

"Believe (unbeliever) on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). (See also Acts 8: 12, 37; Mark 16:16; Rom. 10:9-11, 17; John 3:18; 20:31; 1 John 5:1.)

WARNING.-"He that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

"Repent (believers) and be baptized for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). (See also Acts 8:22; 26: 20; Luke 24:47; 2 Cor. 7:9, 10.)

WARNING.-"Except ye repent, ye shall all perish" (Luke 13:5).

"Confess (penitent believer) with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9, 10). (See also Matt. 10:32; 16:16; 26:63; 1 Tim. 6:13; 1 John 4:15.)

WARNING.-"Whosoever shall deny me, him will I also deny" (Matt. 10:33).

"Be baptized (confessor) and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16). (See also Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:26, 27; 1 Pet. 3:21.)

WARNING.-"Rejected the counsel of God, being not baptized" (Luke 7:30).

"Walk in newness of life" (those buried with Christ in baptism) (Rom. 6:4).

WARNING.-"Walk not after the flesh," "For to be carnally minded is death" (Rom. 8:1, 6).

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them (joined church) about three thousand souls. And they

CONTINUED STEADFASTLY

in the apostles' doctrine (no human creed) and fellowship (weekly collections, 1 Cor. 16:1, 2), and in breaking of bread (weekly communion, Acts 20:7), and in prayers" (attending prayer-meetings, Acts 2:41, 42).

"The disciples were

CALLED CHRISTIANS" (Acts 11:26).

"For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (1 Cor. 3:4). "If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye… if a man suffer as a Christian, let him glorify God in this name" (1 Pet. 4:14-16, R.V.).

"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be

NO DIVISIONS

among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ: is Christ divided (I Cor. 12: 12)? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in (into) the name of Paul?" (I Cor. i: 10-13). "Therefore,

GO ON UNTO PERFECTION" (Heb. 6:1).

"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things (in Bible) that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this giving all diligence,

ADD TO YOUR FAITH

virtue (courage); and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance (self-control); and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness (love of brethren); and to brotherly kindness, charity (love of everybody). For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore, the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 2:2-11).

"GOOD WORKS."

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteous and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit. 2: 11-14).

"WORKS OF THE FLESH

are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions (parties), heresies (sects-R. V.), envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in the past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:19-22).

"FINALLY,

brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil. 4:8).

"Now

unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph. 3:20, 21).

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