Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 9 September 2018
Page 11

Why I Am a Member
of the Church of Christ

Andy Robison

Andy RobisonYears ago, brother Leroy Brownlow penned a helpful book with the title, Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ. Recently, I was asked to preach a sermon on the subject. I’m no Leroy Brownlow, but I humbly submit these thoughts in article form.

I am a member of the church of Christ for the sake of unity in truth. Christ Jesus prayed on the night before His death that believers in Him would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:20-21). Such unity between members of the Godhead serves as the example for the kind of unity God desires of His church. That precludes ecumenism, where everybody agrees to disagree on matters of doctrine. It demands adherence to revealed truth on such matters. Paul’s plea was for Christians to “speak the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

As long as I’ve been able to understand language, I’ve known this to be the plea of the church of Christ. Granted, we have some divisions among us. This is due to sin and not due to Christ’s design. To the extent that Christ’s design for the church over which He rules is followed, we achieve unity.

I am a member of the church of Christ for the sake of truth in love. Ephesians 4:1-16 is an excellent passage on the achieving of unity. Two factors are required: (1) Truth, and (2) Attitude. Both factors are of equal importance.

In “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3), Christians must be characterized by “lowliness and gentleness, forbearing with one another in love” (4:2). There are seven items on which they must agree: The one body, the one Spirit, the one hope, the one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God (4:4-6). However, agreement upon doctrine does not end there.

God set up a system of teaching from that early age onward, which was revealed through the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (4:11). The purpose of this was to build up the saints (4:12) “till we all come to the unity of the faith” (4:13). That is, teaching in love brings people to unity. Thus, the oft-quoted phrase from Ephesians 4:15 is central to achieving unity: We must be “speaking the truth in love.”

I am a member of the church of Christ for the sake of the pattern of truth. I am well aware of the mockery of pattern theology, but it is still a biblical concept and demand. “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus,” wrote Paul in 2 Timothy 1:13.

In the Mosaic Law, during a time when God was teaching by physical things about the nature of spiritual things to come, “Moses was divinely instructed… ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’” (Hebrews 8:5; Exodus 25:40). God required adherence to a pattern under the Old Law, which served to teach about “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5).

The argument of Hebrews is essentially, “If things were a certain way under the old law, how much more are they so under the new law?” (Hebrews 2:1-4; 10:26-29). Now that Christ is “Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6), should we expect that no adherence to a pattern is required?

We are, contrary to the cries of many cheap grace advocates, still “under law toward Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:21). In spiritual things as well, the pattern must be followed.

There is a pattern in the New Testament narrative for the church to function in worship, salvation and living. To achieve unity, this pattern must be preached in love.

Not everyone wearing the name “church of Christ” is practicing the things that would identify them as the church our Lord built and bought (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28). There are even other biblical designations, all giving glory to God, not man (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Timothy 3:15). I am, on purpose, a member of the church of Christ because I want to do my best to submit to the authority of God and to experience the love and unity He designed and desires.

Adversity’s Dark Mile

W. Terry Varner

W. Terry VarneerIn Scotland, as in many nations, there is a narrow and dangerous mountain road. There is no way around it; therefore, many must travel it to reach their destinations. So many have lost their lives traveling this dangerous road that many people have termed it, “the dark mile.”

This is applicable to our lives. Between here and Heaven, we must travel the dark mile or the dark miles. There is no way around them. We must travel them to go to Heaven. They are treacherous, resulting in many spiritual causalities. We can travel this dark mile safely if we learn the nature of adversity.

Adversity is certain. What person has been exempted from trials, adversity and difficult times? We know they come to all whether they are righteous or evil, young or old, educated or uneducated, rich or poor. All we have to do is to look around us or simply look closely at our own lives.

Becoming a Christian does not exempt us from trials; therefore, none should be surprised when they are part of life. The Bible teaches that we should expect them. “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). “We must through much tribulation [trials] enter into the kingdom of God [Heaven]” (Acts 14:22).

Adversities are uncertain. Trials come to each of us, and they are uncertain. They are uncertain in the kind of trial we undergo. None knows what form of trial one may be called to bear. They are uncertain as to time. Life can change in a hurry. The life of Job is a testimony to this fact. Be glad that our Father’s goodness prevents us from seeing the future. If tomorrow’s problems should be added to today’s difficulties, we would be unable to bear them. They are uncertain as to length. Time in trials can be either a friend or a foe. Time, a gift from God, can heal and ease many trials. Yet, time is most difficult when we are having trials. If we can see no end to a trial, then we feel hopeless and desperate. We must have patience to endure our trials, or as it is written, “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). In other words, we must continue in faithfulness at the tasks before us while we endure the trials.

Adversity is painful. Trials are painful because we are human. Paul spoke of his trials as, “none of these things move me” (Acts 20:24). While his trials were painful, perhaps a sign of God’s love, and they are necessary to spiritual growth, they did not move him away from serving God. God understands our trials are pain. He said, “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous” (Hebrews 12:11). Our Lord knew pain from His trials. He said to His apostles, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:37-38). Remember, God was with Him. He is with us, regardless of the kind of trial.

Adversity is temporary. All enjoy earthly life; however, the Christian must learn to view this life against the backdrop of life in eternity or Heaven. Time here is only a small part of our existence. Understand that trials are temporary and insignificant when compared to eternity. The Bible teaches, “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us” (Romans 8:17-18). Trials are but for a season (1 Peter 1:6).

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