|Volume 24 Number 1 January 2022
An Open Letter from a Father
An Open Letter from a Father
His Children and Grandchildren
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them…” (Psalm 127:3-5 NKJV). We are heirs of the Lord, and children are our heritage. They are a gift we are given because we are so fortunate to belong to the Lord, not because we have done any hard work to acquire them.
One of the ways God can bless us is by giving us children. It matters not how the children come to us, by birth or by adoption; each child is a gift. Whether by adoption or by the melding of a blended family, they are truly family and as such a part of our heritage.
My entire family is my heritage from the Lord. I am a man so blessed and so happy that my family is full of sons, daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. A family of children, grandchildren who are a conglomerate of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. I am so thankful for my wonderful family who are truly, as the Psalmist said, a heritage from the lord.
Through the years it has been my prayer that I have given you words of wisdom, enlightenment and encouragement, and in my own small way, shown you a light on the path of life that leads us to our home in Heaven when life here is done. May my blessing be upon all of you.
What’s the Difference Between
Church of Christ and Denominations?
Brian R. Kenyon
From time to time, church members will be asked a question similar to the title of this article. There are many ways in which this can be answered, such as only the church of Christ started at the right time (Daniel 2:44), in the right place (Jerusalem, Luke 24:49; cf. Isaiah 2:3; Acts 1:8; 2:1-47), by the right person (Jesus, Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23) and with the right doctrine (Matthew 16:19; Acts 2:38; Romans 16:16-18). No denomination can claim any of these points! However, there is one single Bible verse that also totally exposes the difference between the church of Christ and all denominations.
The most concise yet comprehensive way to answer the question is to accept and apply what Colossians 3:17 teaches. This verse reads, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (NKJV).
Notice the three statements in the beginning of this verse that show how much an individual or a group of individuals calling themselves a church must do by the authority of Jesus Christ: (1) “whatever you do” leaves nothing out; (2) “in word or deed” includes everything, even thoughts, because they determine speech and actions, and (3) “do all” encompasses everything. Any one of these statements by itself would teach that Jesus’ authority is needed for everything we do, but when the God-breathed Scriptures give that scope three times in one verse, there is an undeniable emphasis: everything we do, must be done with God’s authority! Understanding and applying these three, practically synonymous, statements is the key to distinguishing the difference between denominations and the faithful church of Christ!
The phrase, “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” means that everything a church or individual does must have the authority of Jesus (Acts 3:6; 9:29; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; James 5:10). He has been given “all authority” (Matthew 28:18). Anything a church does that cannot be supported by New Testament authority is sinful and thereby reflects denominationalism. For example, many denominational churches will claim their authority for using mechanical instruments of music in worship is found in David and in the Psalms (81:2; 98:6; 149:3; 150:1-6). However, whether David was actually commanded to use them in worship or in some other setting is irrelevant to New Testament worship. Our authority must come from the New Testament. David and the Psalms are Old Testament. There is no authority for using instruments in worship today!
There is also a huge misconception in denominationalism that “in the Lord” simply means dedicating a certain action to the Lord, thereby making that action right and acceptable to God. I have heard sincere members of denominations say, “God has blessed me with this ability to play the piano, so He must be pleased and honored when I use that talent in worship to Him, in His name.” The problem with this kind of reasoning is that it is not humanity’s place to determine what pleases God! It is God’s call, and He has told us through His written Word, the Bible, what pleases Him. We must worship God by what He says (John 4:23-24), not by what we desire or think is appropriate (Matthew 15:8-9; John 4:22; Acts 17:23; Colossians 2:20-23).
A person’s claiming to do something “in Jesus’ name” does not mean that he or she is truly doing something in Jesus’ name (i.e., by His authority). Consider Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Notice how they called Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” but that did not really mean He was their Lord (cf. Luke 6:46). Notice also how they claimed three times to have done remarkable things “in Your name,” yet Jesus responded, “I never knew you.” Why? Obviously, because they did not truly follow the Father’s commands (Matthew 7:21). What we think are good works may not be what God determines good works. Again, just because people claim to do something “in the name of the Lord” does not mean they are actually doing it with His authority!
There is a difference between denominational churches and the church of Christ, and, rest assured, that difference matters eternally! We must study the New Testament to know the truth about what the church is and what God actually authorizes for His church (2 Timothy 2:15). Equipped with that knowledge, we can discern whether a group of people calling themselves a church is just another denomination or truly the church for which Christ died (Acts 20:28), to which He has adds the saved (Acts 2:47) and for whom He will come again to take and be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This discerning should also sometimes include those who assemble in buildings with “Church of Christ” lettered on their signs. The one test that will distinguish the true church from denominationalism is to see that “whatever [they] do in word or deed” is “all” done “in the name of the Lord.”