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Daily Devotions Archive

August, 2001

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Belief Systems

By Bernie Parsons - August 1, 2001

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

Understanding our church roots is crucial to continuing the "restoration spirit" of our forebears in bringing the masses to Christ. This is not done through factions, sects, and cults that result from the splintering of religious bodies. Quite the opposite, it is accomplished through unity in spirit and truth. The warring that takes place between denominations is often because of a commonly shared history. Harsh and bitter feelings from centuries ago often drive current disputes and attacks. Sadly, most of the people involved in these religious battles don't even understand why they are fighting. It has been reduced to "I defend my side, right or wrong".

The early "restorers" had a couple of interesting mottoes that still drive the Church of Christ. One is "We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent". Another is, "In faith, unity; in opinion, liberty; and in all things, charity (love)". The first statement is ostensibly a rendering of 1 Peter 4:11 "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

The second statement is often purported to be based upon Romans 14, although I see it as a condensation of various scriptural principles. The unity in the faith seems aptly described in:

Ephesians 4:11-16 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

Regarding opinions and liberty, Romans 14 is indeed a good study of the subject, but I include:

1 Corinthians 8:9 "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your's become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." (Read the surrounding verses--the context is similar to Romans 14.) Also consider, 1 Corinthians 10:29 "Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" (Again, read to know the context.) 2 Corinthians 3:17 "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Galatians 5:13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."

James 2:12 "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty."

Charity, perhaps, is best described in 1 Corinthians 13, and in 1 Corinthians 16:14 "Let all your things be done with charity."

Regrettably, in the Church of Christ today there is often a spirit of party, of contention, and of bondage to the opinions and musings of men. We forget the Apostle Paul's admonition in :

Ephesians 4:1-6 "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

And our Lord's words in:

John 17:20-23 "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."

The Apostle Paul decried such contention as we see in the modern church in his writings.

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 "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. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 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? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"

1 Corinthians 11:16 "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."

Romans 2:8-9 "But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;"

The modern Church of Christ began with two mottoes: "We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent"; and, "In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; and in all things, charity". Since our beginning, violations of these guiding principles have led us into contention and numerous resultant factions.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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Hermeneutics: Inductive Reasoning

By Bernie Parsons - August 2, 2001

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

The Church of Christ, having parted ways with the Disciples of Christ in the late 1800's and early 1900's, aspired to become the "true Bible church", and carried on with the "restoration movement" so recently embodied in the likes of  James O'Kelley, Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and others. The Campbells apparently drew heavily from the works of John Locke, and the school of Scottish Common Sense Realism. Alexander Campbell attempted to apply science and  inductive reasoning to the Bible, following the concepts of Lord Francis Bacon. From those attempts came our present dogma of "command, example, or necessary inference".

Our current lack of cohesion in the churches of Christ lies with the use of hermeneutics to find "inferred commands" in the scriptures. Unfortunately, each person being schooled differently, coming from various cultures and environments, and at different stages of spiritual development, brings his or her own opinions into play when ferreting out these "inferred commands".

Contrary to what the Bible teaches, many present students and teachers of the Bible in the Church of Christ allow for no opinion whatsoever, no leeway on matters of conscience. To them, everything is a matter of faith, and if we cannot agree with them, then there can be no unity of faith--therefore, they "withdraw fellowship" from us. While these people abhor the apostasy of Catholicism, and renounce the incomplete results of the Protestant Reformation, they become apostate themselves in that they reject many of the teachings of the Bible. Most of them are stuck in the incomplete teachings of Alexander Campbell and his associates and students.

The answer is to recapture the spirit of the reformers without becoming disciples of men. Campbell was so appalled by the Calvinists--for good reason--that he overreacted, in my opinion, and placed too much emphasis on theology as a science. The presence of the Holy Spirit within the individual Christian is an idea that is often rejected, although scriptural, because the Calvinists abused the scriptures in regards to the Spirit. Furthermore, the Bible itself tells us that God's truth does not always conform to the reasoning and logic of man.

1 Corinthians 2:4-7 "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:"

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

Romans 8:9 "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

Using "science" and logical reasoning to find the commands of the Bible substitutes the devices of men for the Spirit of God. Man's wisdom does not override the guidance of God's Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:18-21 "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

The modern Church of Christ is the result of the "American Restoration Movement", which was an attempt by sincere men to further "reform" the "Reformed" church by encouraging a return to the Bible as the only source of instruction on Christian living. The use of science to discover the truth has contributed to a blind search for "hidden truths", with the result that the movement has ground to a halt, and the remnants of the movement are falling apart. Each little faction thinks that it is the "one true church" and all else are hell-bent hypocrites. Unfortunately, these factions continue to splinter even further under the "scientific" inquiry method that continues to produce strange, new doctrines.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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Resume Radical Restoration

By Bernie Parsons - August 3, 2001

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:9 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

By acknowledging the true history of the Church of Christ, we can reopen the discussions with our denominational friends about the truths of the Bible. Such discussions were common when the "American Restoration Movement" began--that was the whole point in the movement--to get godly folks to abandon man-made doctrines and go to the Bible as the source of our beliefs and life-style. First, we need to understand and acknowledge that the Church of Christ split from the Disciples of Christ. The Disciples of Christ came out of the Stone-Campbell restoration efforts. Stone and Campbell drew much of their background from the Presbyterian and Baptist doctrine. The Presbyterian doctrines came chiefly from the Scottish reformation, while the Baptists drew largely from the Calvinist teachings. The Reformation was an attempt to bring the Catholic church out of its apostasy and back to the Bible. So what we have is a restoration of Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches to a pattern closer to the Bible. Some of their members and leaders abandoned their separate church identities in an attempt to unify as "Christians only", following the Bible pattern for the church. The Disciples of Christ, the Christian Church, and the Church of Christ are the fruits of their attempts.

Unfortunately, many of us in the churches of Christ have lost that impetus to unite all in a common, undenominational body of Jesus Christ. Instead, many of us have become denominational in our attitudes and doctrines. We are now the "Church of Christ" with our own set of creeds and doctrines, which we claim to take from the scriptures. Yet, some of what we cling to is based upon Catholic doctrine, while much of it came out of one or more Protestant beliefs after the "Catholic Reformation". Still other practices are rooted in the "American Restoration Movement", often referred to as the Stone-Campbell Movement, in honor of Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell. And finally, after the breakaway, much of doctrine comes from editors, orators, and writers from within the Church of Christ.

I would have us move again toward a radical restoration of the church that is in the Bible. I think that we have become so enamored of Campbell's Lockeian and Baconian philosophy, that it prevents us from abandoning things that are not actually commanded in the Bible, clouds our ability to spiritually discern more of the will of God in the scriptures, and has led us into this destructive cycle of proving our own pet theories while outright rejecting the conclusions of others. One of the first moves we must make is to remove our prejudice against the Spirit of God, letting go our fears of being mistaken for those who follow Calvinism and its offspring.

Matthew 16:15-17 "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."

Romans 8:9-11"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

1 Thessalonians 5:19 "Quench not the Spirit."

The Lord's church must embrace the Holy Spirit of God, as the scriptures tell us to do, rather than rejecting it (Him) for fear that we will be mistaken for those who abuse the doctrines regarding the Spirit. We must abandon the philosophical devices of men and truly return to the Bible for our instruction, allowing God's Holy Spirit to guide us.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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Five Steps To Salvation?

By Bernie Parsons - August 6, 2001

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:9 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

One of the techniques that came out of the Restoration Movement of the late 1800's and early 1900's was the use of hermeneutics, an attempt to use scientific methods to discover the truths of the Bible. Alexander Campbell was a key proponent of this methodology. One of his associates apparently came up with the concept of "command, example, and necessary inference" that is still used today in the Church of Christ to try to determine what we must believe. I think that these man-made devices, as admirable and as effective as they were to move Christians out of the realm of "spiritual experience" to so-called "Bible fact", are no substitute for a Spirit-guided study of the Bible.

The Bible suggests still a third way to learn the truth. It is found neither in a "spiritual sign", nor is it found in "man's wisdom". In fact, both of those techniques are condemned by the Apostle Paul.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."

There is very much a spiritual component to the soul's salvation. It is not obtained through dry ritual, through scientifically following a series of steps, as in a science experiment.  In fact, when we discuss salvation in the Church of Christ, we often refer to the "Five Steps To Salvation", a holdover from the application of hermeneutics to Bible study.  Yet, neither Jesus nor His apostles referred to a "Plan of Salvation" that consists of "Five Steps". If the Bible does not present it thusly, why should we? It has led us to discount the role of God's Holy Spirit in becoming and remaining a Christian. Our chief concern nowadays is, "Were they baptized correctly?" I have officiated at several funerals. The first question usually asked is, "Were they baptized?" Not, "Did they live a godly life?" Others ask, "Did they attend church regularly?", instead of asking, "Were they righteous?" We have substituted baptism and regular "church" attendance for a righteous heart.

John 3:5-8 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Perhaps if we acknowledge that one must be born again of the Spirit, maybe we can convince some of our denominational friends that we must also be born again of the water. We do the gospel of Jesus Christ no service by denying one or the other. But, rather than merely preaching "H-B-R-C-B" as The Five Steps (if you are in the Church of Christ, you know what I am talking about), each Christian must be able to explain what God expects and requires.

1 Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"

If someone asked you how to become a child of God, would merely recite "Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and Be Baptized", or would you be able to frankly discuss the scriptures and how the gospel leads a person to Christ?

Christians must be prepared to sincerely and intelligently discuss the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how one is added to the body of Christ, the church of Christ. We must abandon denominational rhetoric and the logic of men, and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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What's In A Name?

By Bernie Parsons - August 7, 2001

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

Some people, when discussing religion, inquire, "What's in a name?" They will say, "A rose by any other name is just as sweet"--good use of scripture, right? A name is important, because it assigns identity and characteristics to an individual or organization. If someone stole your identity, as often happens to people, and ruined your credit history and soiled your reputation, would that not offend and embarrass you? If you own a company that has a reputation for high quality and good service, would you want someone to open another company by the same name that offered poor quality and bad service? If a man is married, would he want his spouse to wear the name of another? A name can be very important. The name of Jesus is one such important name.

Philippians 2:9-11 "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Revelation 5:11-13 "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

Christ died to establish His sanctified people--His church, His ekklesia--and we must give Him the honor and glory. We call it the church of Christ--you notice that I use the lower case for church, to differentiate from "Church of Christ"--because it is His. It is a description, not a formal title assigned by Jesus or His apostles. The men of the Restoration Movement asked that Christians leave behind all church names and man-made creeds, and be Christians only, and use only the Bible as our book of instruction in Christian living. Thus, the restored church is the church of our Lord Jesus, Christ--or, the church of Christ. We should not assign it to ourselves as a title, "Church of Christ", which makes us a denomination.

Matthew 16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

The church is His, and so we should designate it. I have heard some say that we must use the title Church of Christ, that no other will do. They say that we have the only "scriptural name", pointing to Romans 16:16 "Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you." as evidence. Again, this is descriptive, not a title. In fact, the "Church of Christ" as a title appears nowhere in the scriptures. Were we to search for a scriptural name, the "church of God" is found many times in the New Testament. Again, it is descriptive, not a title. Most often, the church is simply referred to asare you ready for this?the church! We are the saints, the church of God, the churches of Christ. If we want to be the church of Christ, then let us live our lives accordingly.

2 Timothy 2:19 "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

Christians are the Lord's church, the church--the ekklesia-- of Christ. The church is that sanctified group of people that have been born again of water and of the Spirit. We live godly lives every day before the face of God. We are righteous. We give God praise and honor, through Jesus Christ.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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We Constantly Worship God

By Bernie Parsons - August 8, 2001

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. James 2:12 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

Previously, we determined that the building is not the church, and that the church of the Bible usually met in people's houses for assembly, which is not called "worship service" in the scriptures. "Worship service" is a dangerous man-made concept for the church. In fact, it was the Roman Catholics' attempt to create a Christian imitation of the Jewish temple assemblies.

As we found in the previous study, each of us is a temple wherein we worship God. Therefore, while we are in the body, we are in a state of constant worship of God. Since we constantly serve God, then we are in a constant state of service. Therefore, we are constantly in "worship service" to God. This is a major part of what is missing in the church, and what the church is missing. As a result, the world is unimpressed when they see what is lacking in our daily lives.

Philippians 2:12-13 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit."

Matthew 12:36 "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

Romans 14:12 "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

Our bodies are to be presented as offerings to God, living sacrifices. We belong to Him. Every day we are to walk according to God's ways, in the footsteps of Jesus. We are in constant worship service to God.

Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

1 Corinthians 6:19 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

Our worship and service to God is not about ritual, but about righteous daily living.

Mark 7:6-9 "He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."

Modern church-goers wish to make God be whatever they desire or require Him to be. God must fit their ideas and ideals, or He is rejected. Therefore, "worship service" becomes a feel-good session wherein birthdays and anniversaries are announced, sports are touted, groups are applauded, and a twenty-minute sermonette is presented--the subject often based upon a writing of man, such as a poem or a song--because "studies show" that a preacher cannot hold the congregation's attention beyond twenty minutes. (Never mind that the Apostle Paul preached on one occasion throughout all the evening and talked all night.)

Acts 20:7 "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."

Acts 20:11 "When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed."

Christians (the church) are in constant worship of God. When we gather for edification and encouragement, this is called an "assembly" (or gathering) of the church, not a "worship service". This is an important distinction, because people formulate new doctrines and argue endlessly on how to change the will of God by declaring some activities "worship service" and other activities "not worship service".

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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The Assembly

By Bernie Parsons - August 9, 2001

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

Having built our unscriptural building (usually out of the collection for the needy), we call for regular "worship service"--an unscriptural phrase--and demand that everyone be there "every time the doors are opened"--an unscriptural commandment. We cite Hebrews 10:25 out of context in order to create this "commandment".  Why not, my friends, be the church of Christ that is described in the scriptures? Let us not be satisfied by being the organization that was shaped by a small group of men, but let us be that entity--the body of Christ--that God describes to us.

Hebrews 10:25, taken in overall context of that chapter, and indeed of the entire book, is describing Jews who became Christians. As time wore on, and Christ had not returned, many turned back to the Law of Moses, and the blood of bulls and goats. The writer was urging other "Hebrews" not to give up the practice of assembling together. In fact, he urges them to do it even more frequently as "the day" approaches. The verse does not say "Forsake not the assembly", yet I have heard that phrase countless times throughout my lifetime. In fact, I have heard entire sermons built around that phrase, and its cruder variations: "missing church service", "laying out of church service", or "skipping church"! If we are at all times the church, and are at all times serving the Lord, and are constantly in our temple, worshipping God, that would appear to me to be a little hard to do.

Assembliesgatheringsof the body of Christ are mentioned in the Bible. The first day of each week appears to have been the day of choice, perhaps because Jesus was resurrected then.

Mark 16:9 "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils."

Acts 20:7 "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."

1 Corinthians 16:2 "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

We have then an example of the early church meeting upon the first day of the weeksome would argue, a commandment. Here is where we need the wisdom of God's Spirit to direct us. Let us not substitute our own logic, and our man-made philosophy, for the will of God. (That is how traditions are born, and forever more regarded as the law of God!)

Mark 7:6-9 "He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."

Herein lies spirituality--that we see a godly example, and the Spirit of God moves us to do likewise. We don't have to adopt a scientific methodology to force our members to do as we wish. If the Spirit-filled apostles saw fit to assemble each first day of the week, why would I, filled with the same Spirit, not desire to follow suit? And that scares my brethren who are of the Campbell tradition, as he fought so desperately to reduce Bible understanding to the application of logic to the scriptures to avoid a diversity of rules based upon "being led by the Spirit of God". Yet, the use of that same logic structure has resulted in many little Church of Christ factions that are holier-than-thou, and who will have nothing to do with others unless like them in every respect.

I believe in assembling as the body of Christ every first day of the week because we have a Biblical example of this being done by Spirit-led apostles of Jesus Christ. I don't believe in man-made doctrines. While we are at it, why don't we meet daily from house to house? We might just see some souls added to the church! That's how the Christians in the Bible did it!

Acts 2:46-47 "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."

Acts 20:20-21 "And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

In the Bible, the church assembled on the first day of the week. We should follow this godly example, the Spirit of God dwelling in us bearing witness that this is a good thing to do. We should not pervert scripture to establish a commandment that is not set forth.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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Five Items Of Worship?

By Bernie Parsons - August 9, 2001

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. James 2:12 KJV

Hello, Family & Friends,

Since the Bible does not describe church buildings, I can see where we can be better off by following the Bible example of meeting in one another's homes. We would be spared the enormous expense of building and maintaining a "church building", freeing up our financial resources to assist the needy, and those preaching the gospel, as the Bible teaches. What I am about to say is sacrilegious among the traditionalist "Church of Christ" people.

The Bible does not teach "Five Items Of Worship". These are enumerated as (1) Bible study, or preaching, (2) praying (one man leading the congregation in prayer), (3) singing (congregational), (4) taking the Lord's supper, and (5) giving, or "laying by in store". It is said that on Sunday one has not faithfully worshipped God unless all five "items of worship" have been dutifully performed. This ritualism is not true worship, as we studied in the previous review.

Are these teachers saying that these five things must be performed in the assembly every Sunday, and in this fashion? Yes. To disagree results in being "disfellowshipped", or "shunned", as a heretic and a non-believer in the truth. Yet the Bible teaches no such thing as the "Five Items". These were born of the hermeneutics craze that developed around 200 years ago, wherein Reformation Movement leaders felt that everything had to be proved scientifically. Thus, "scientific" lists of "steps to becoming a Christian" and "orderly worship" emerged.

One of the mandatory "Five Items" can be tossed out with little study, and that is "giving". The roots of this doctrine lay with the Roman Catholic church, wherein they hoped to coerce the members of their church to give that which they should have been doing willingly and generously. This "lay by in store" is based upon the words of the Apostle Paul in:

1 Corinthians 16:1-4 "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me."

The reasoning is that Paul commanded that we all must give on the first day of each week, because he said "as I have given order". There is even rancorous debate over whether that means every man and woman, or the head of the family only. This ignores several important points. First of all, although Paul said in the first Corinthian letter that he was ordering them, he later backed off that strong statement in his follow-up letter, probably after some of the Corinthian Christians criticized his demanding tone.

2 Corinthians 8:8 "I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love."

Furthermore, this was a one-time collection, not a lifelong weekly affair. This is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:3-4, and again in 2 Corinthians chapter 9. In the second letter, Paul spoke of his boasting of how the Corinthians were some of the first to agree to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem and Judaea. He then challenged them to live up to his brags by gathering goods and money that would be collected by certain brethren, who would deliver said collection to Jerusalem. Most of II Corinthians chapter 8 is devoted to a discussion of who would be gathering the gift, and transporting it.

2 Corinthians 9:2-5 "For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness."

Paul's tone changes from, "I order you to give", to "give as you purpose, not of necessity", as in:

2 Corinthians 9:7 "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

This giving was a specific, one-time collection, not a mandated "Item Of Worship". It fits with the instructions of God throughout Old and New Testament teachings to help the poor, beginning first with the saints, then next, the unbelieving.

Were we to follow this godly teaching, instead of rendering it as an "Item Of Worship", we would move from a ritualistic giving to heartfelt relief of the needy saints, and others. This would nullify and negate all the debates about whator whothe "church treasury", "offering", or "lay-by-in-store" can be used for.

Do I believe in collecting money each first day of the week when the church assembles? Yes, I do, because of the example--not commandment--that is given in 1 and 2 Corinthians, and the rest of the Bible. It is a good way to accumulate wealth to relieve the needs of the suffering, and to send forth preachers of the gospel. Is it a required "Item Of Worship" that helps produce an "acceptable worship service"? No, the Bible teaches no such thing.

Christians (the church) are to help the needy among the brotherhood, as well as in the community at large. They can do this by following Bible example and gathering wealth over time to meet those needs when they arise.

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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