11560 Lippelman Road
Wednesday through Friday 7:30 P.M.
Saturday 6:00 P.M.
Lord’s Day 10:30 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.
Preaching By: Brother Wyn Baker
11560 Lippelman Road
Wednesday through Friday 7:30 P.M.
Saturday 6:00 P.M.
Lord’s Day 10:30 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.
Preaching By: Brother Wyn Baker
I suppose there is no way for me to know, but in my travelling about this past year, I was approached with questions about the bread that is “to us the body of Christ” when eating the Lord’s Supper, more than all the previous years put together. More than that, I have received correspondence requesting that I clarify some things about the bread. With this renewed interest it occurs to me that there may be others that would like an outside point of view. With that in mind, and allow me please, to present an idea or two respecting the bread as seen on the Lord’s Table each Lord’s Day.
Taking the New Testament in hand we read, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and break it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” (Mt. 26:26). It is clear from this simple reading that there was one loaf under consideration. Each person broke and ate of the same loaf. When the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians he declared “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (I Cor. 10:16-17). In the American Standard (1901), the translators supplied in the margin for bread the word “loaf” to aid readers in understanding the bread was but one piece.
Alexander Campbell wrote as a comment of Acts 20:7 “Artos occurs ninety times in the N. T. In common version it is always translated loaves in the plural number; but in the singular number, one case excepted, always bread. In the case excepted there was a sort of necessity for translating it loaf, because a whole ship’s company had but one loaf. In that case to have translated it one bread, would have been wholly inapposite. Such laxity is peculiarly faulty, or in a case, where Paul argues the unity of the church from the fact that in its assemblies they had but “one loaf,” of which they all partook. In this case the argument makes loaf, and not bread, indispensable.” (Commentary on ACTS OF THE APOSTLES Page 134). Campbell’s argument is ill refutable by any logician of note.
Furthermore, seeking information from the Old Testament makes by inference the use of one loaf on the table a necessity. When Moses according to the commandment of God prepared the Table of Shewbread it is stated, “And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof; two tenth deals shall be in one cake. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the pure table before the Lord. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire before the Lord. Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.” (Lev. 24:5-8). There was one cake (loaf) for each of the tribes among the Israelites. Today there is no divisions among the people of God as there is but ONE BODY therefore as noted earlier Paul argued from this fact that there is to be but one loaf upon the table of the Lord. Remember these things were written for our admonition and LEARNING (Rom. 15:4). Shall we allow this to slip without learning? One Table, One People gathered around that One Table, One Savior who gave His One Body in sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and One Loaf to signify His body in remembrance for the disciples of the Lord in this age of the world.
When Jesus gave us the pattern for the supper that would be eaten in His remembrance as long as the world stands, we are told, “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?” (Mt. 26:17). Leaven is spoken of in scripture as impurity pointing out sin in the individual and in a congregation. Jesus establishing the pattern for us to follow in eating the Lord’s Supper did so while gathered with His disciples to eat the Passover, a time among the Jews when all leaven was removed from their houses and especially the place where the Passover was kept. Thus Jesus selected an item to remind us of His sacrificial body that was without leaven—unleavened. The scripture informs us that Jesus “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). Unleavened bread with no admixtures is the item placed on the table, as we give thanks, break and eat in remembrance of the Lord. Who is there that cannot understand that? Nothing less—nothing more—nothing else fulfills the wish of the Savior.
Some believe that other substances can be added to unleavened bread on the Lord’s Table. Others even contend that other substances must be put into the bread. Some years ago discussing this with a fellow preacher he said, “There are twenty-seven things that could be added and it would still be unleavened bread.” I was so struck by that statement that I failed to ask him what they were. Before another opportunity came he died, leaving me to wonder what he had in mind to this day. Another fellow preacher said, “without oil being added to flour and water you have wall paper paste.” Well, once the flour and water mixture is baked, I would like to see it used as wallpaper paste. Wishful thinking is the father of corrupt practice.
When Aaron and his sons came near unto the tabernacle to minister in the holy place we are told, “And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.” (Ex. 29:2). Of course we do not approach God through the tabernacle as they did in that time with these three things made of unleavened bread, however, we can learn something about bread and about oil. We have three things here.
Unleavened bread is one thing, unleavened bread mingled with oil is another thing and unleavened bread with oil spread over it is still another thing. These priests understood and were able to recognize the difference in these three things. If they could not then they were unable to obey the instruction given to them. Therefore, unleavened bread is not unleavened bread mingled with oil. Unleavened bread is not unleavened bread with oil spread upon it before or after baking (as one might put oil in the pan where the bread was to be baked). Unleavened bread tempered with oil is different from unleavened bread and is not the same as unleavened bread with oil upon it. Unleavened bread anointed with oil is not the same as unleavened bread. Unleavened bread with oil spread upon it is not the same as unleavened bread with oil mingled in it. Each of these is different from—not the same as the other two.
The question is not whether the bread becomes leavened bread with the addition of oil (or perhaps some other added element), rather, it is what did Jesus use when He established the Lord’s Supper instructing the disciples and us to “take, eat…” They were eating the Passover which meant that they were to eat it with unleavened bread (Ex. 12:8). Are we at liberty to add an element declaring in practice that it makes no difference? Think about this.
Wherever and in whatever we might have some confusion the best thing that can be done is to consult the Word of God and follow it as closely as we can? The children of Israel came to various crossroads where decisions had to be made one of which is called to their attention by the illustrious prophet Jeremiah. His advice looms heavy today as we come to a place where a choice must be made. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” (Jer. 6:16). It has always been and if history is to repeat itself, it shall always be that people seeking the Lord will walk in the admonition of His word, while there shall be others that will openly defy Him. It is not pleasant to disagree with disagreeable brethren in Christ; however, at times it is impossible to avoid. It boils down to this: is it to be unleavened bread or unleavened bread mingled with oil, or unleavened bread with oil applied?
The desire of the Psalmist David comes to mind; a desire that should find itself on the lips of all our prayers, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Ps. 19:13). Our intentions may be the very best, our efforts may be from a heart wishing to please the Lord, however, that does not make wrong right, nor does it stifle the judgment of the Lord. Line upon line, precept upon precept is the better way to walk following the Lord’s way—the way He has appointed us.
Inquires have been made about a recipe for preparing the bread, In some congregations one sister attends to the task, in others there are more than one and the making of the bread is passed about. In either case this is something that should not be done without forethought. If one has never made the loaf then practice should be done. Following is a recipe I received (upon request) from Jimmie Smith prepared by his wife Cindy. You may contact Jimmie at 5100 Rail Rd, Harrison, AR 75416. After that is my wife Bea’s recipe.
Cindy Smith: take 2/3 cup of plain flour. Mix in enough water and stir until mixed. Roll into a ball. Place the ball on 1/3 cup of flour on wax paper. Flatten and roll into a 1/4” (thick) loaf. Shape with a 6” Tupperware bowl. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place loaf in preheated oven for one hour. Remove loaf and let cool. Place in zip lock bag.
Obta (Bea) Owens: Preheat over to 325 degrees. Mix well 1 cup of plain sifted flour with 1/3
cup plus 4T water. Place on parchment paper or wax paper with 2T plain flour. Knead until
floured well. Flatten and roll in circle or pat down until about 1/4” thick. Place loaf on small non-
stick cookie sheet or cake pan. I use non-stick foil on pan. Place into preheated oven and bake for
Barney Owens 1901
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in they name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt. 7:21-23)“
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt. 24:30, 41, 46).
Whether or not we consider the context of Jesus words all these passages show one thing that none can doubt—some of these people (maybe the majority) were rejected. Rejection is one of quandary of words that a definition eludes us because it is not understanding the meaning that forms our difficulty, it is the emotion attracted to the word that haunts us. Some of those mentioned by the Lord made a profession of seeking His companionship and had a measure of faith but wanted acceptation on their own terms. Others engaged in a variety of works that no doubt were charitable and praiseworthy and in the doing of them they did not wish acclaim for themselves but attached the name of the Lord to them. However, since the one possessing authority to act had not prescribed such actions, they were lacking, as the rejection of the Lord was clear, decisive and direct. The haunting words were “I never knew you.” They were not rejected after these things were practiced and they strayed from the Lord, but they were rejected in the very doing of them. Rejection? Absolutely—“depart from me!”
Rejection by Christ has a destiny that is undesirable. It is a place of total darkness yet burning with fire that issues a pain that does not end. The populace of that place is most despicable containing the Devil himself as well as his messengers. Almost beyond our imagination is a place where there is not even the flicker of anyone with an inkling of good. Therefore we are left with but one fate: to weep and gnash our teeth. Think seriously about such a place and you can see the power of rejection. Is that a place you wish to go? As difficult as it is to live the life of a Christian sometimes, it is a far better choice than to choose the way that means rejection by the one who has provided the way of salvation.
Few people have escaped rejection. How we deal with it often defines who we are. The lives of many young children and adolescents have been ruined by rejection from parents, grandparents, siblings, school officials, friends and Christians. It is not only found among people of the world, it all too often is prevalent in the body of Christ as well. Some who make an extensive effort to attend one of the “area” Gospel Meetings find themselves strangers in an unknown and unanticipated climate, where various “clicks” operate, so leave vowing to never return.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure’s of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” (Heb. 11:24-26). Moses is set before us as an example of a man that intentionally rejected the better things this world had to offer for the worse. Instead of the pleasantries that would had been heaped upon him he selected the suffering with its accompanying affections in order to walk in the faith of God’s word. Did he not know that the result of his choice would bring these things upon him? Had all his affection for the daughter of Pharaoh dissipated? Was the lavish life style he had come to know have no meaning at all to him? The choice Moses made surely was not as simple and easy as we often make it out to be. As a pilgrim in Midian did his heart never recall all that he had given up? Remember he “chose to be rejected” by Pharaoh his adopted grandfather, his daughter, and all those of Pharaoh’s house. The Egyptian who had once bowed in his presence now despised him. The only consolation he had was that he pleased God in his choice. But, even then he had little way of knowing whether God would deliver His people or him! He surely had no conception of the blessings that would come his way. THE CHOICE HAD BEEN MADE and as it turned out it was by far the better choice. Rejection brought redemption from Egypt, Rejection brought rejoicing, and rejection brought the hope of a better land.
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (MT. 10:34-39).While we sing the praises of Moses and those like him who forsook all to obey God, we often fail to realize that the same principle is to be found in us. Rejecting our family is perhaps the most severe task that the Lord lays before anyone. It is difficult to reject the one who brought us into the world, the one who cared for us when we could not care for ourselves. Far be it for any of us to be called upon to reject the one who brought us up in life and taught us the principles of living. Yet it is these very ones that must be rejected for Christ. The taking of our cross in this context does not refer to helping the Lord with the burden of broadcasting the gospel. It is His reference to a personal cross, a cross that is peculiar to the circumstance. A cross bespeaks of determining the path, road, or way that one is to travel. Standing at the cross (cross-way) means that a decision is to made—must be made. A decision so necessary that once made there can be no turning back. The decision to reject family and follow Christ or to reject Christ and enjoy the bosom attraction of family is a decision (cross) that some will not grapple with, yet it cannot be avoided. A failure to reject family for Jesus is a demonstration that one is unworthy of Christ. We do not have to wait for the judgment day to know this.
When Jesus said “he that taketh not his cross” He is giving emphasis to the burden of one bearing his cross. It is not a matter to be lightly taken, it is not something that goes way quickly, it is not a decision that is to be made in haste because the burden of one’s peculiar cross spoken of in this context is there throughout life. Every time a family occurrence arises the cross is apparent. At funerals, at birthday parties and other occasions that would be joyous bring in its place tears and anguish. It seeps through our thoughts with the rising of the sun and the appearance of the moon. The man who does not reject his family for Christ may “save his life” alright enough, that is to say he will enjoy the companionship and joy of family relationships, but in so doing he will at the same time “lose his life,” meaning the eternal possession of eternal life will be severed as the Lord will not say, “well done thou good and faithful servant” rather His words will be “depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you. That is a rejection no human being wants.
In First Corinthians chapter five the Apostle Paul chides the brethren for their failure to take action toward two of the members within that congregation who engaged in a type of fornication that was not “even named among the Gentiles” (V. 1-2). He surely does not mean that such was unbeknown among the Gentiles, but that they would not tolerate such. And he points out that he does not need to see this fornication (know every gory detail,) to pass judgment (V3). They must be rejected! His implication is that those present should not find themselves in any difficulty making a proper judgement. By the authority of Christ action was demanded meaning rejection (V 4). Because of the deeds prompted by the desire of the flesh, the fornication was to be stopped and a consideration of salvation of the spirit must be brought to the forefront (V 5). Without delay the sinners were to be rejected removing them from fellowship of the church that the church would be purified like was practiced at the Passover once observed by the children of Israel. When leaven was removed from their houses it was a symbolic gesture that sin would not be accepted and tolerated by the church of the Lord Jesus Christ as Christ Himself is our purifying agent. The toleration of sin within the church is a rejection of the sacrifice of Christ—it nullifies His sacrifice for sin (V 7). Some might think we do a lot of good, so we can tolerate some evil—not so. Others contend we worship correctly therefore the action of some of the members is of little consequence—wrong. But the elders or leaders have decided that this sin is all right—no way. Oh, the private lives of the members is just that, private—a sad mistake. Paul would say to these and other ideas to suggest we don’t have to obey the Lord in such things, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (V 6). If the Lord commands us to reject sin personal or collective the choice is removed. The problem is such that some members of certain congregation have the mind-set that the application of the commandment of Christ will do more harm than good, Faulty thinking brought to a church. Rejection is required. Fact is if the evil within a church is not rejected the Lord will reject the entire congregation. When the Lord walked among the churches of Asia He demanded that the evil in a congregation be rejected. For example, in Ephesus, which had done a lot of good but left their first love and had fallen they needed to repent and do the first works else their candlestick would be removed—rejected. In Pergamos they worked under the most difficult of situations but had some that held the doctrine of Balaam and others who caused some to sacrifice unto idols and to commit fornication. In addition some of them held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans a thing the Lord hates. They too were called upon to repent lest Jesus come upon them with the sword of His mouth—rejected. At Thyatira they housed a place for that evil prophetess Jezebel who caused His servant to commit fornication and sacrifice unto idols, whose children He would kill with death unless they repent—rejected. The Lord does not take lightly a congregation that trifles with His word.
“A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” (Titus 3:10-11). There is nothing foremost in the desire of our Lord than unity of believers actuated by following His word. Yet there are (and always have been) some who are given to destroying that union by promoting themselves or some particular ideas they may have which exalts them among the people. Such are called hereticks. They are intent on creating schism or a party spirit in the church. These are not always open splits or divisions in the body, however they often lead to that condition. “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (I Cor. 11:19). Heresies are brought about by someone and that someone although at first may not be obvious is a heretick. Paul says this man is “condemned of himself,” which does not mean that the man’s own conscience condemns him, as such a person has more often than not a “seared conscience.” It means that viewing his action it is clear that he “condemns himself.” Before rejection justice is tempered with mercy and he is to be admonished. More than that he is to be provided the courtesy of a second admonition after which there is nothing left but rejection. Why are we so slow to learn and practice this? Personally I know of a brother who was in the lead (to say the least,) in a schism in a congregation that led to division. Going to another church he was readily received, where trouble again began to brew. He left that church went elsewhere and was received (we cannot judge you know). This was repeated again, again, again, again and again and he presently is enjoying discord in a church. Souls as a result have been scattered along the way. If Paul’s admonition had been followed these precious one’s might have been saved. A lesson taught plainly in scripture is rejection of a sinner.
Barney Owens 1812
“The fool hath SAID IN HIS HEART “there is no God.”
“For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish.” Lk. 14:28-30.
“If I were to select a title for this lesson I would call it—Counting the cost. I suppose when it comes to the subject of counting the cost Christianity is talked about more than any other subject. Jesus considered the subject by talking about building a tower, or any building of any kind.
All of these things would cost so the cost must be counted to make sure you have the funds to get the business started. Of course, I have bought things in my time figuring I could make the payment each month. But you know, I didn’t figure out my real estate taxes, the insurance on my car and house. When these extra bills would appear, a lot of times we would have to make other plans in order to pay all the bills. I really didn’t count the cost, as I should have. But then we have to do without some of the things I really would like to have or really needed. Then I was in the get by stage over not counting the cost before I bought the things I could have gotten by without in the first place. So, in any matter we need to count the cost.
The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians in I Corinthians 6:20 that they were bought with a cost. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit.” The price he was talking about was high.
Jesus left the glories, power and riches of heaven to come to this old earth and provide the salvation that can belong to everyone of us. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:8, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” That ought to be enough to arouse our interest in our own salvation, but there is more to consider. When Jesus came to earth he did not come as a king, but humbled himself below the smallest and most ignorant of humans. We read over there in Philippians 5:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus having the feelings of men must have been embarrassed to become one of the creatures God had created. Nobody likes to be embarrassed, but Jesus endured it. More than that he was embarrassed and lowered even more as he had to suffer death. Jesus was and is a member of the Godhead, which means before he came to earth he was the life itself. But instead of living he died. But there is more to the story. Jesus suffered the most humiliating of the ways to die. He was condemned to death on the cross. When men died on a cross it was a sign to everybody that he was an evil person. Jesus died not for himself, but for we who are poor sinners. I am glad to read that through his poverty he has made us rich. It is hard to imagine how much he loved us. We are told, Romans 5:6-8 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Every Sunday when the church gathers we remember how much it cost Jesus by eating the Lord’s Supper. My judgement is not the final one but when people are seen neglecting to assemble or if they do come eat the Lord’s Supper with a passing attitude I believe there will be a high cost to many Christians.
The question I raise in this lesson is the cost concerning our obedience to the Gospel of Christ. I think everybody would like to go to heaven as long as they could go any way they so desire and the cost was not too much. But we have to pay the price. Sometimes the cost means cutting the ties that are most precious to us. Jesus warned, “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:36-37. I have known of children losing their inheritance because they obeyed the Gospel. The cost was very great but they paid it gladly. They realized they had a greater reward yet to be revealed. And I am acquainted with some that chose their children, grandchildren or other family members over Christ and the gospel truth, because the cost was too great for them.
When Jesus met the rich, young ruler we see a man that counted the cost and found it to be too much for him. Coming to Jesus he asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Well, Jesus told him some of the Ten Commandments such as, thou shalt not commit adultery, steal, murder, or bear false witness and to honor father and mother and generally love thy neighbor. The young man said, “all these things I have kept from my youth up, what lack I yet?” Listen to what Jesus said unto him, “if thou will be perfect, go sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and come and follow me.” the young man heard that he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions>” Matthew 19:16-22. The cost was too great for him. The great possessions that he had here were worth more to him than the eternal treasures in heaven. This man is now in the eternal world awaiting judgment and if he did not reconsider the words of Christ and never become obedient to the truth, I ask what do you suppose he would be willing to do now if he had the opportunity to reconsider? There is no doubt in my mind that he would be willing to give up everything even giving up his life if necessary.
Paul wrote, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” 2 Timothy 4:10. If Demas had been permitted to take one look behind the curtain of time into Paradise and the Place of Torment there is no doubt that his decision would have been different. Very quickly he would have decided the cost of being a Christian was not too great.
Early on in his teaching Jesus assured us that following him would be costly. Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Paul, a well-known persecutor of Christians, knew the cost of following Jesus, yet surrendered his life to gain a complete change of attitude. He wrote in Romans 12:14 “Bless them which persecute you.”
There are some things that we can no longer do once we have obeyed the gospel, Maybe some of the people we have counted, as our friends must be shucked. Some of the places we have enjoyed going to must now be rejected. Some of the words that have often fallen from our lips must be hushed and even some of our family members we must separate from. The cost must be considered, as it is great in some situations.
There are some other things that we have neglected that must be added to our life of reverence toward God. Romans 12: 1 is a passage that should cause people to count the cost. It reads, “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.” Some of these things now required of Christians have caused disciples to leave the church as they seek an easier way that can be found among the denominations. One such demand made upon every Christians is to gather with fellow Christians on the first day of the week to break bread. We learn of this practice in Acts 20:7. “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” This breaking of bread was referring to the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, This is not to be forsaken, Hebrews 10:25, “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.” Some can’t stand to not work on Sunday to get double time, some just want to sleep in after a hard week of work, others want to engage in some pleasure or activity and when it is pointed out that they cannot “forsake the assembly” they get bent out of shape and quit the church. Another thing that is not accepted by some followers of Christ is laying by in store, 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.” When some learn that they were to give they won’t give. Others will give but fail to give as they have prospered. And as in some other things they tire of hearing how much is to be given just leave the church and go away sorrowfully with the same selfish attitude that was in the rich, young, ruler. The warning of Jesus has no effect upon them. The Lord declared, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:36-37. This question asked by Jesus is one that all of us should never forget.
The question for all of us is AM I WILLING TO COUNT AND PAY THE COST. I hope and pray that the answer is, yes, I will.
Russell R. Owens
*The above lesson was taken from the handwritten notes of my Father Russell R. Owens. At the death of my mother this past spring I collect his notebooks. I was startled at the number of lessons he had prepared. He was not and did not think of himself as a good speaker, consequently, he had rather others make the talks. I heard him give lessons on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, but I never heard him present a lesson during Lord’s Day Worship, the reason being, he believed the best should be used to edify when all the church was gathered. Dad, wasn’t a good reader, but he could quote nearly every passage regarding the plan of salvation (especially baptism), the church and worship. He never met a stranger consequently did his best to stand up for the truth anywhere having many discussions at work, with family members, with people he chanced to meet in stores and with church members. He tried to be an example in living a Christians and encouraging others especially the young. I would have failed as a preacher many times over if it were not for him. I can only wish to be the man he was. What you saw is what you got.
Barney Owens 1811
In the previous article the reasons for using one cup (drinking vessel) in communing with fellow Christians when we assemble for worship on the Lord’s Day was discussed. Some have made inquiry as to the reasons given by our brethren who use cups rather than one cup. Of course, I do not know every reason and some of them given I am aware are preposterous being so far from the truth. However, I will give attention to a couple.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (I Cor. 11:26). The question is posed—“How do we drink the cup? We do not swallow the literal cup, but its contents, therefore the cup is figurative.” Several things we should notice here:
It must be admitted that the contents of the cup is meant or suggested in the verse under consideration. It is NOT the contents of individual or multiple cups.
What is the figure of speech employed in the passage? Figures of speech have rules just as other components of language do. In this case the figure is “Metonymy.” E.W. Bullinger in his accepted “Figures of speech used in the Bible,” writes on page 538, “Metonymy is a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, in which it stands in a certain relation.” In our passage the cup stands in a certain relation to the fruit of the vine, a relation that is sustained by the cup containing it. If the relation is broken then it is improper to speak of it in this fashion. When the cup is removed breaking the relation then it is improper to refer to the fruit of the vine as the cup, as in drinking the cup. Again, if multiple cups are used one cannot say as some of my brethren do, we are drinking the cup. Bullinger goes on to say later; “Metonymy is not founded on resemblance but on relation.”
We therefore “drink the cup” by drinking what is in the cup and in no other way. Remember the content is suggested by the container. Think about this, If I take plain ordinary water, put it in a kettle and apply heat, I may say the kettle is boiling. If I remove the water and place it in a radiator and it over heats, I may say the radiator is boiling. If I put the same water in a cup and apply heat I may say the cup is boiling. The water sustains a relation to that which contains it. However, I may NOT say the kettle is boiling if the boiling water is in a radiator. The relation must be there. I may NOT say the radiator is boiling if the boiling water is in a cup. The relation must exist. I may NOT say the cup is boiling if the water is in a kettle. The relation must be sustained. I cannot refer to the fruit of the vine as “the cup” when it is in a kettle, or a radiator, or in individual cups. To call the contents of a vessel that vessel must be present. We drink the cup when the content is in a cup.
“Incidental being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence, occurring merely by chance or without intention or calculation.” (Webster). As pertains to our subject there was nothing intended by the communion cup Jesus used, as it was just handy for Him at the time. From a preacher in the fellowship of those who use individual cups we are treated to the following:
“God wants each worshipper to partake of the bread and grape juice. How may this be accomplished? Containers or trays are necessarily required—unless grapes are hand carried to each person who would then squeeze the juice into his own mouth. We do have an account of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper and apparently using a single cup. However the context makes clear that the container was incidental. The contents—the juice—was what they were to drink and reflect symbolically upon. I am forced to conclude that the manner of distribution of the elements of the Lord’s Supper is optional” (Dave Miller, Piloting The Strait, page 469).
A few things immediately pop out of this brother’s conclusions notice these with me.
1st, “Containers or trays are necessarily required.” Was the container mentioned? If so, what was it? Scripture says, “Jesus took a cup. He gave thanks for it and gave to the disciples and all of them drank from the “single cup” as our brother later calls it. There were several cups used in the Passover Supper. Jesus could have told them to each partake of a cup individual to them. But He did not; He used a single cup commanding “drink ye all of it.”
2nd, “We do have the account of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper and apparently using a single cup.” In the mind of this brother is a truth that no man can deny, Jesus used “a single cup.” But he thinks that we do not have to follow the command of Jesus to “drink ye all of it.” The Apostle Paul delivered to the Corinthians the Lord’s Supper as he had received from the Lord. He tells us that the Lord said of the “single cup” ”this do ye as oft as ye drink it.” This do means do what I have done. What did Jesus do? According to Brother Dave Miller, Jesus used a single cup. How many cups are we to use?
3rd, “The context makes it clear that the container was incidental.” That statement is false as in fact the exact opposite is true. I have no way of knowing why Brother Miller reached that conclusion. I do know in Paul’s account to the Corinthians he declares that the Lord said, “this cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Jesus blood ratified, sealed or made binding the New Covenant (Testament), by which we are saved from our past sins and then becomes the rule of our life. The context also shows that Jesus commanded the disciples to drink from the “single cup” He gave to them and the disciples understood what the Lord meant even if Brother Miller and those of like practice willfully blind themselves to the context and to the facts in the case. It is a stretch to make the claim that “the context makes it clear that the container was incidental.”
4th, “The contents—the juice—was what they were to drink and reflect symbolically upon.” How does our brother know that? Because Jesus said “this is my blood.” Let’s think about that some. Jesus made some statement regarding the things important in the Lord’s Supper as is suggested by Brother Miller. Notice the following words of Jesus.
In each of these the word “is” does not mean that the bread is really the body of Christ, or that the fruit of the vine turns into the blood of Christ, nor that the cup is the New Testament itself. But, the word “is” mean stands for, represents or is symbolic of the things attached. Brother Miller accepts the statement about the bread—body, and the fruit of the vine—blood, yet denies the third about the cup—New Testament. Why? Because the first two suits his fancy, but drinking from the cup that other disciples have drank is against his desires. We are cautioned to never add to the word of God, and at the same time we are commanded to refrain from subtracting from the word (Gal. 1:8-9, Rev. 22:18-19). To accept what Jesus said is symbolically true of the bread and the fruit of the vine and then contrary to scripture and logic reject what is said of the cup is sinful.
5th, I am forced to conclude that the manner of distribution of the elements of the Lord’s Supper is optional.” I do not know who or what “forced “ him “to conclude” what he has. It certainly is not the scripture. One cannot read the accounts of the Lord’s Supper where a single cup is always the manner of “distribution of the elements…is optional. Jesus took a single cup of the several on the Passover Table, He gave thanks for the single cup that He took, then gave the single cup to the disciples saying, drink ye all of it. They understood as “they all drank of it.” Could or did the disciples alter that counting the single cup as optional? The answer is an emphatic NO.
If we allow ourselves to accept his logic, then the bread was incidental as Jesus just took what was handy—bread from the Passover. The Weymouth Translation says Jesus “took a Passover Biscuit.” Therefore, we can use chocolate cake, as it is more agreeable to our taste buds than unleavened bread. In addition Jesus used fruit of the vine because several cups of it were used in the Passover Supper, therefore incidental, as it was just there or handy. Since it was incidental we may use Pepsi-Cola as it tastes better than grape Juice. Furthermore, Since they had gathered to eat the Passover (Lk. 22:15), that means the Lord’s Supper itself is incidental as Jesus simply took advantage of the circumstances. I think his reasoning is faulty. The better way is to accept what Jesus said of the bread and use only unleavened bread in the Lord’s Supper. Also what He said of the fruit of the vine and use only fruit of the vine in the Lord’s Supper. And in the same vain accept His words about using a (“single”) cup when we gather to eat the Lord’s Supper.
The Apostle condemned the Corinthians because they came “together not for the better but for the worse.” They had perverted the Lord’s Supper and turned it into their own supper. Today every conceivable change is being made to the Lord’s Supper. No longer is a single loaf used so that people can “break” as Jesus said but little nibbles are used that can be picked up without breaking, even though scripture says the disciples came together on the first day of the week to “break bread.” Breaking they say is eating. The fruit of the vine so we are told is not the only drink element, but fermented juice is acceptable. Then as we have seen no longer is it necessary to use a (“single”,) cup but we are at liberty to use multiple cups—as many as we deem sufficient for each person to have his own cup. I must wonder what else could be done to the Lord’s Supper than what is advocated and practiced by some brethren who have digressed from the pattern instituted by Jesus and propagated by those He authorize to “stand in His stead”
Barney Owens 1810
11560 Lippleman Road
Wednesday through Friday 7:30 P.M.
Saturday 6:00 P.M.
Lord’s Day 10:30 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.
Preaching By: Brother Brandon Stephens
This expression is immediately recognized by every believer as referring to the Lord’s Supper that every Christian around the world is to partake every Lord’s Day. It is a pity that Christians who are to be united are divided over this created issue. Those of us who seek to restore the church revealed in the New Testament in doctrine, practice and worship should be of all people ashamed for the deviation from the practice ordained by Jesus and established on the very day the church came into existence. Presently a few obvious facts will be pointed to.
Communion is a having or sharing in common; mutual participation The Apostle referring to the Lord’s Supper wrote, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ” (I Cor. 10:16). I admit that I feel a bit silly defining “cup” as even children know at a very early age what a “cup” is, nevertheless, Cup is “A small vessel of capacity, used commonly to drink out of.” (Webster Unabr.). Reading from Matthew 26:27, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;” we know that Jesus took a small drinking vessel, gave thanks over a small drinking vessel, gave a small drinking vessel to the disciples commanding all of them to drink from the same small drinking vessel and the disciples all drank out of a small drinking vessel. The cup Jesus took and the cup He gave to the disciples and the cup they drank out of was not a barrel, was not basket, nor was it a cup for each of the disciples, it was a single cup. Is it possible to misunderstand that?
Tyndale 1535 And he toke the cup, and thanked, And gave it them, sayinge drink of it everyone.
Great Bible 1540 And he toke the cup, and thanked, and gave it them, saying, drinke ye all of this.
Emphatic Diaglott 1864.Then taking a cup, and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink all of you out of it.
ASV 1901 And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.
The account given by Mark answers that question explicitly. “And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it.” (Mk. 14:23). Benjamin Wilson translates it; “they all drank out of it.” If we are to follow our Lord’s instruction we will do just as these disciples did and we will drink out of the cup. Drinking of the cup is a sharing together in remembrance of our Lord. (I Cor. 11:25).
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” a cliche heard an often repeated expression has been passed along for generations is one of those truths that cannot be denied. Example is taught often and many ways in the New Testament. Jesus has set forth many examples for those who love Him to follow. We do try to walk in the Footprints of Jesus. One of the difficult things for me to understand is the willingness of some of my brethren to turn from Jesus example when it comes to the Lord’s Supper. We know that when we partake He is in our midst and like Moses in a time gone by we should realize that our worldly shoes should be removed as we surely stand on holy ground. Clearly Jesus pictures for you and me what He wishes us to do. “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” (I Cor. 11:25). When the Lord said “this do” He did not mean that we should do less, nor do more, or again do something else. Surely we all can agree that He meant, “do what I have done.” Like a magnet I am drawn back to this picture established so long ago. Many years had passed when Paul wrote to these Gentile Christians in Corinth. They had never PRACTICED THE PASSOVER which was in vogue when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, but that did not exempt them from following the example set. Never do we have license to destroy the example by perverting this sacred feast. When my brethren set an individual communion set upon the Lord’s Table they err in the greatest of ways by denying the authority of the Lord Jesus.
The people using the individual communion set often stress the point that God is not worshipped with material things because our worship is spiritual. Therefore a material “cup” cannot be a part of spiritual worship. We must remember first of all, that the things established by God are spiritual and certain material things have been chosen to be used in spiritual worship. One must wonder how these can hold to such an argument when they themselves use “bread and fruit of the vine” in worship. The last time I checked bread is a material thing, so much so, that it can be touched, broken and tasted, as well as passed to another person. The fruit of the vine can be smelled, drank and even felt going down the throat. Is that not material? And, I might mention that preachers of that persuasion preach long and loud that we must give of our means (money) each first day to please the Lord. Has money ceased to be a material thing? It then is rather senseless to say we cannot use material things to worship God. Notice the significance of the “Cup” in the Lord’s Supper as used in worship. Jesus said of these as elements of worship
Of the bread—“this is my body.”
Of the fruit of the vine—“this is my blood.”
Of the cup—“this is the new testament.”
Everyone except those willfully blind know that the material bread is not the literal body of Christ, but is symbolic or representative of the body that hang and died on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins. Likewise, all are aware that the material fruit of the vine is not the literal blood of Christ, but that it is symbolic or representative of the blood shed for our redemption. We should all recognize that the material cup is not the literal testament or covenant of Christ but is symbolic or representative of the new covenant by which we are saved. The New Testament was ratified by the blood that was shed from the sacrifice offered. Will one who says it is not mandatory to use a literal cup that contains the fruit of the vine be so bold as to say the fruit of the vine within it does not have to be literal fruit of the vine? Or, that the bread can be something else than literal bread? Dear Reader think for yourself by reading the accounts of the Lord’s Supper.
The above is a question often asked by those opposing the creation of all things by God. It does us well to think about this regarding the present discussion. Which came first the practice or the arguments attempting to justify the practice of individual cups? It is plain that our brethren digressed from the teaching of the New Testament and began to use individual cups created arguments that they suppose justifies the use of the communion set. All the while it would have been much easier to abandon that which is unknown to revelation. Brother G.C. Brewer wrote, “A good many of the fights that I have made have been with my own brethren on points where I believed them to be in the wrong. I think I was the first preacher to advocate the use of the individual communion cup and the first church in the State of Tennessee that adopted it was…the Central Church of Christ at Chattanooga…My next work was with the church at Columbia, Tennessee, and, after a long struggle, I got the individual communion service into that congregation. —Of course, I was fought both privately and publicly and several brethren took me to task in the religious papers and called me digressive.” (Forty Years on the Firing Line page XII of the introduction). There we have it the practice began causing trouble and division. The first individual cups were introduced among churches of Christ in 1914. Once the practice began other brethren accepted the practice and created arguments in debates to justify their practice. In Oklahoma City a young brother signed the proposition, “The New Testament teaches the use of individual cups in communion.” He decided to consult an older preacher then making his home there, by the name of Foy E. Wallace Jr, for advise. Wallace was a well established, preacher and author. Brother Wallace told the young man, you are going to get a spanking because the New Testament does not teach the use of individual cups. I drink from them as an expedient. Well, expedient means to expedite or speed up and we all know individual cups do that. Point is: the practice came and then arguments were sought to uphold a practice better than 2,000 years after the church was established.
I am aware of the need to accept what is taught in the New Testament above and beyond anything that men great or small have to say, however, I grow weary of my brethren who have cast aside what Jesus said when He instituted the Lord’s Supper referring to those of us as ignorant and stubborn when we contend for following His teaching. Furthermore, it is a slam on the entire brotherhood to cry out for the Bible and the Bible alone when it comes to rejecting mechanical instruments in worship and doing an about face rejecting the WORD on this issue. Listen as they preach against the instrument and write long and many articles to uphold a “thus saith the Lord” regarding the instrument and want it their way instead of the Bible way when it comes to the “COMMUNION CUP.” It is indeed a sad commentary on a people who claim to “speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent.” Don’t misunderstand since scripture says nothing about the instrument we should reject its use, but the Bible does speak multiple times about the “COMMUNION CUP” which my brethren cast aside. So, I am going to present some things that many of the brethren in by-gone days have said about the COMMUNION CUP that we who contend for a single COMMUNION CUP stand on the same ground that many of the brethren honored by the individual cups people hail as authorities on other issues. Notice some of the statements presented for the consideration of people, From the book “Questions and Answers by David Lipscomb and E.G. Swell edited by M. C. Kurfees on page 409, “The Savoir used one cup only, as well as one loaf only.” Surely, these learned men cannot be cast aside when an appeal is made to them for guidance on other issues.
The New Testament Commentaries published by the Gospel Advocate Company. The authors of each volume are brethren that use individual cups in the Lord’s Supper. Sometimes they meet themselves coming back by showing the truth on the COMMUNION CUP. C.E.W. Dorris authored the commentary on The Gospel Of Mark, Using the American Standard Version as the text he writes, “And he took a cup,—“A cup” is one, not two, nor a dozen…the cup contained wine, the juice of the crushed grape.”
I shall not go further with quotations. As I said earlier, it really does not matter what men have to say (in the church or out of the church), what matters is what the Scriptures say. There cannot be a doubt that the New Testament teaches the Lord used one cup in the supper. He gave thanks for one cup (blessed it), gave one cup to His disciples and told them to drink of one cup, and they all did exactly that—drank out of one cup.
An old brother in Oklahoma said to me many years ago before his demise, “If I was anybody I could understand that.” Our prayer is that all will consider what is plainly revealed in the New Testament and follow it so that we can unite in trying to save the lost by pointing to our Savior’s example and wish.
Barney Owens 1809
Is it better to think about talking?
Or, to talk about thinking?
Either way precious time is wasted.
“You claim there is one God, yet you worship three. How do you explain that?’ C.H.
This question was pasted to me with the request that it be answered in this paper. There was an article earlier that dealt with the Godhead which in principle answers this inquiry. However, I am happy to consider the specifics of this question before us.
The confusion on this issue is kept alive by those who claim to be “The Apostolic Church Of Jesus Christ” a church that the New Testament knows nothing about nor does the Word Of God present anything that is a cousin to the theory. The manner of the people that belong to this organization are adept at asking questions that they believe off-sets scriptural teaching regarding the existence and work if the Godhead.
Let me first say that neither I nor any of my brethren worship more than one God, as we worship and praise “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph.1:3).
Is it possible that more than one person can be considered as one? The scriptures so aver. Consider first the matter of a husband and wife. Jesus declares that these are one. “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mt. 19:5-6). Who can deny that these are one? To abort this relationship is to engage in a work against God.
Now, consider another situation the Lord prayed about. “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 has sent me. (Jn. 17:20-21). There are several things to consider in this passage. First, the chosen men to be Apostles were to be one. Secondly, those hearing their word preached were to be one (that comes right down to us now living). Third, these disciples (all of us,) were to be one, said Jesus, in us-US, more than one. Fourth, Jesus declared He was in the Father and the Father was in Him. How can anyone read this passage and cling to the belief that the Godhead is made up of one person?
When Jesus prayed He addressed His prayer to “the Father.” Did Jesus pray to Himself, draw strength from Himself, and seek glory from Himself. The answer to all these must acknowledge that there are a plurality in the Godhead. Jesus prayed the Father in heaven He being on earth.
“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifices and offerings thou wouldest not, but a body thou has prepared me.” (Heb. 10:5). The subject in this context is the sacrifices offered to God, sacrifices that were incapable of atoning for man’s sins. The reason being that animals are inferior to men and therefore could not atone for the sins of their superior. Therefore God dispatched His Son—one greater than man to supply our redemption. You will notice please that the one offered had a body prepared for Him—a body to offer. But that body was made for one already in existence. Who is there to doubt that Jesus was that sin offering? Jesus was Divine and the body composed humanity, Jesus was therefore divinity in a body. The passage says “a body hast thou prepared me.” Who prepared the body Jesus dwelt in? None other than the heavenly Father.
The Apostles were authorized to preach and to baptize people into a relationship that was made up of the entire Godhead. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Mt. 28:19). Preachers sent forth to preach the doctrine of the so-called “Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ” refuse to preach what Jesus commanded and will not baptize as the Lord commanded. Instead they spew forth questions that they think off-set what the Lord without question authorized.
“For There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). Christ serves as mediator in Heaven. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1). Do we worship more than one God—no, we worship one God but we recognize the work of Jesus in His mediatoral work. Jesus is equal with God being a part of the Godhead. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man.” (Phil. 2:5-7). Jesus was just as much the likeness of God as He became the likeness of men. Why are some bent on denying that Jesus is a member of the Godhead and at the same time claim Him to be a man? To believe Jesus was a man, one must believe that He became such and that prior to that He occupied a place with the Father making Him deity.
That makes me think of another passage written by the Apostle John as he began his Gospel narrative. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1). There is a clear distinction between God and the Word as the Word was with God, yet at the same time the Word was God. What is meant by “Word?” Well we do not have to depend upon the definition of men, nor is there a long wondering what the meaning is, as John speaks of the “Word” again at verse fourteen, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” One would have to intentionally deceive himself to misunderstand what is meant by “Word.” It is none other than Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. Yet, He is Himself deity—God. What is called the golden text of the Bible marks it for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16). The language of Paul as we have just noted is an inspired commentary on these passages. (See Phil. 2:5-7).
The Godhead is spoken of three times in the New Testament, all by the Apostle Paul. Once he uses it by contrasting the Godhead with the various supposed gods that had shrines made by men’s hands. The second passage is used to express what God is and denotes what is meant by God. The third shows that the Father and the Holy Spirit are seen in the work of Christ.
There are three personalities or members of the Godhead and these constitute what God is. Usually when all are spoken of at the same time the Father is put first, Christ is named second and the Holy Spirit third. Each of these is the same in essence in essence. They are therefore co-equal, persons. The scripture marks a clear distinction of the members of the Godhead. Even though they are one, each as a distinct work and personality. The same is true of the church or body of Christ. We are one yet are distinct as members of the body with our own particular abilities that make us peculiar to one another. “But now are they many members, yet but one body.” (I Cor. 12:20). Read the entire revelation in First Corinthians fourteen and see the various works and abilities of church members—YET WE ARE ONE BODY! If one can understand that and take the same principle to the Godhead, the confusion about one God or three gods will dissipate. (Passages from Boles 23-bottom).
Allow me to present several passages (there are many others,) that speak of the three members of the Godhead. In some of these personal pronouns are used to indicate person and personality. I will give emphasis to each of these persons of the Godhead and when a pronoun is used I will indicate which of the persons it is. This will be done as follows: when the pronoun refers to the Father I will use the letter F, when referring to Jesus Christ I will use the letter C and when speaking of the Holy Ghost (Spirit,) it will be indicated with the letter H.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; (Rom. 15:30. Their (and our,) prayers are directed to God our Father; these are made through Jesus Christ our mediator as taught by the Holy Spirit.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all A-men.” (II Cor. 13:14). The passage places emphasis upon grace, love and communion. Christ is named first because the grace of God is seen in His sacrificial work, God is then named because the scheme of redemption is expressive of His love. And all men (specifically Jew and Gentile) have communion and fellowship of the Holy Ghost because of the word of God being preached that He revealed to the world.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my (C) name, he (H) shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I (C) have said unto you.” (Jn. 14:26). Christ was here on earth while the Father was in Heaven and with the Father was the Holy Ghost. To earth was the Holy Ghost going to be sent by the Father as Christ was going to ascend back to the Father.
“Howbeit when he (H), the Spirit (H) of truth, is come, he (H) will guide you into all truth: for he (H) shall not speak of himself (H); but whatsoever he (H) shall hear, that shall he (H) speak: and he (H) will shew you things to come. He (H) shall glorify me (C): for he (H) shall receive of mine (C), and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine (C): therefore said I (C), that he (H) shall take of mine (C), and shall shew it unto you.” (Jn. 16:13-15). The Holy Ghost had not as yet descended to fill the Apostles, but Jesus assured them that when He arrived that He would lead them in all truth. In addition the Holy Ghost would glorify Christ because everything the Father possessed was His. So, Christ being taken from them would not leave them alone. Please read carefully John 14, 15, 16, 17. These chapters reveal to us over and over the distinct personalities and work of each member of the Godhead.
Now to the charge that I worship three gods instead of One God. The charge is a false charge for the reasons asserted above. I admit that there are some things about the GODHEAD that I do not understand but that does not allow me to reject what is clearly revealed. The preacher among the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and like organizations spent their time trying to off-set what the New Testament given by the Holy Ghost to glorify Christ according to the will of God, rather than teaching the simple truth that there is ONE GOD MADE UP OF THREE MEMBERS. When people follow them they do so to their own destruction. Recalling the words of Jesus should cause one to shudder. “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Mt. 15:13). Some facts in this passage are: (1) the blind leaders are persistent in spreading their false doctrine. (2) however, the blind leaders may be sincere in their preaching else they would not be blind. (3) those hearing and embracing their doctrine are also sincere else they would not be blind. (4) yet the ditch did not go away because they were sincere. (5) the ditch is indicative of destruction. The shameful thing is that not only the leaders will be destroyed but the followers shall also be victims. “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Mt. 15:13).
Barney Owens 1808
Even a child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer
One who is wise can learn from the mistakes of others
while fools learn only from their own
The teaching of Christ and the Apostles is filled with figures of speech. That does not mean that the things found in the figures are not real and cannot be complied with things separate from the figure. On the contrary many if not all of them have a physical and a spiritual connection to be followed. Such is our subject presently. To enter the Kingdom, church or body of Christ, to be saved from past sins, enjoy the remission of sins and have a relationship with God one has imposed upon him the necessity of the NEW BIRTH.
There are many theories of what constitutes the new birth. While we may regard or disregard these theories one platform of agreement can be found in the necessity of the new birth. The Lord declared “Ye must be born again.” (Jn. 3:7). It is therefore imperative that we plunge into a study of it to ascertain the meaning so that we may take the necessary steps to be born again.
While speaking to the religious leaders of His day Jesus made a statement that is equally true concerning us. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.” (Mt. 15:8-9). The very fact that there are various doctrines proclaimed about the new birth some of which are exactly opposite to others is indicative that someone is teaching for their doctrine a commandment of men. Equipping ourselves with the word of truth we will not fall victim to the doctrines of men. “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Eph. 4:14).
His name was Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee; we are told that so we would know that he believed in the resurrection in angels and in spirits. He was a ruler of the Jews indicating that he was a member of the Sanhedrin Court, a man respected for his knowledge and regard for the people and what was right for them (Is. 28:14), He was a man born among the children of Abraham entitling him to all the blessing promised that nation. He recognized Jesus as teaching God’s will which he ascertained by the miracles Jesus performed. He sought a private interview with Jesus to receive more light on some subject of concern to him. What question did he wish to prose to the Lord? We are not informed. Jesus took the matter in hand.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (V 5:3). Standing between a man and the Kingdom of God is the new birth. Remember Nicodemus like all the people serving God anxiously looked forward to the Messiah who would establish the Kingdom and rule the world. It was imperative that he ready himself when it became a reality. As intelligent as was Nicodemus he knew if Jesus was correct the time of the Kingdom was near as Jesus emphasized this in His preaching beginning with Matthew 4:17. Read carefully the Sermon On The Mount, Matthew 5, 6, and 7 noting the references Jesus made to the Kingdom. It is also probable that Nicodemus had heard John preach about the Kingdom’s soon arrival as John and Jesus spoke of it being “at hand,” meaning it was near as to frequency of time. With that in mind it is difficult to understand why there are some teaching and looking forward to the Kingdom’s coming now. Say what you will, there is no way that “at hand” extends over two thousand years. When Jesus announced this it must have touched a cord in the heart of Nicodemus. A New Birth indeed!!! How could there be a birth new: or otherwise that would repudiate or elevate one more than that experienced by Nicodemus? Was he not born of Abraham’s seed? Was he not circumcised the eightieth day? How then could another birth supercede that? Could his doing this at his age make him any better? And if that were to be done how could he enter his mother’s womb and restart the process of being born over? Jesus declares that the New Birth was entirely different for the Old Testament system and a physical connection with the family of Abraham. He explains, “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” (V 5-6).
Born under this system there was a mark of distinction that separated the children of God from every other nation of people, a mark that was in the flesh, a mark called circumcision. When circumcision was performed on one born in a Jewish household that meant that one was a child of God and that his birth was proper and right. In every way the system applied was fleshly. That birth was legal in Nicodemus but did not allow entrance into the New Kingdom Jesus was preparing him and others for membership. Jesus therefore said, “That which is born of flesh is flesh.” (V 6). The Apostles after the Kingdom became a reality continually had a problem with the Jews because they tried to attach fleshly circumcision to new converts of Christianity.
Contrary to the old system the New Birth is accomplished by applying two elements. Man is not physical only but has a spiritual component in his nature, This spiritual is referred to in scripture as mind, spirit, conscience or heart. When it comes to salvation or entering the Kingdom man’s component physical and spiritual must be used. Scriptures speak of these often an example of which is Romans 12:1-2. “I BESEECH you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies (the physical,) a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable (the mind,) service. And be not conformed to this world (outwardly or physically,) but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (spirit or heart,); that ye mat prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Refusing or rejecting either of these leaves one void of being Born Again.
The first element is water. Water means just that—water. Men have tried to apply this to natural birth (one type of fleshly birth). Nicodemus would have thought such contention silly. Others have thought that water was to be applied for redemption making it the only element necessary to obtain the New Birth. Thus the practice of Infant Baptism was born. Thinking that a baby is born with original sin, water is applied to remove the crusty thing called sin. Nicodemus knew that such application was silly as he would have known the words of the prophet, “The soul that sinneth. It shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Ezek. 18:20).
Applying the element of water is a direct reference to baptism. All Jerusalem and the regions round about knew of John’s baptism (and later of Christ and His disciples), therefore Nicodemus would not have applied water in any other way. The doctrine of men has done every conceivable thing in the world attempting to make water something else. Holding his hand on his breast one man declared “I wouldn’t trade this feeling right here for all the water in the world.” People are called to altars to be saved before and without baptism. The cry goes out to “receive the Lord in your heart, etc. etc. All of these and like things are preached in an attempt to remove water from God’s plan to be BORN AGAIN. The Gospel of Christ cannot be obeyed without water baptism. Jesus commanded, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mk. 16:16). On the day of Pentecost Peter demanded of his hearers “”Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38). Jesus sent Ananias to Saul of Tarsus commanding him to, “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16). Many other passages can be added easily to these but this should suffice presently. The New Testament regards baptism as an act that precedes entering the Kingdom, being added to the church, being placed in the body of Christ and so forth. Without water baptism one lingers in the word outside of Christ and without the blessing of salvation,
Paul yoked the heart (spirit) and the body (physical immersion,) together in writing to the Roman church chapter six, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized (water), into Jesus Christ were baptized (water,) into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism (water,) into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life (born again). That affirms that water is involved as Jesus said in the New Birth or turning to God in obedience. He goes on to write, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but have obeyed form the heart (the spirit, the mind,) that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (V 3-4 and 17). Peter also shows that water and spirit must be joined to be saved or Born Again. After reminding his readers about Noah and his family being saved by water, he says, “The like figure whereunto even baptism (water,) doth also now save us (not putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience (spirit, heart,) toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 3:21). There is no disputing the matter, there are two sides to every human being and both of these are employed in the New Birth. When a person believes in his spirit or heart that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and submits to the Lord’s will by allowing himself to be baptized for the remission he is born all over—born again. All the sermons that are preached across the land and all the speeches that are written to gainsay the matter, the words of Jesus Christ and His Apostles are too plain for us to reject either of the elements necessary to accomplish the New Birth.
The necessity of the New Birth is not only seen in the commandment and action of the Birth itself but it needs to be viewed from the standpoint of what it causes or produces in those who are Born Again. We are told, “For as many of you as have been baptized (water,) into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27). In connection, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, al things are become new.” (II Cor. 5:17).
One enters, becomes part of the body of Christ, the church of Christ, or the Kingdom of Christ by being baptized into Him. In this manner one puts on Christ. Therefore one who is not baptized into Christ is outside of Christ, outside of the body of Christ, outside of the church of Christ, outside of the Kingdom of Christ. One who has been baptized (in water) has the passing away of old things and all things have become new to him. One who has not been baptized (in water,) remains under the dominion of old things and does not have all things to become anew. Being a new creature begins with the NEW BIRTH. The NEW BIRTH must connect with water—baptism. Denying or failing to be baptized (in water.) leaves one an OLD CREATURE.
Barney Owens 1807
Don’t follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Success is a mater of luck—ask any failure
The man who believes he can do something is right, and so is the man who believes he can’t.
When we attempt to do great things it is glorious even if we fail.
The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack
When two men agree in a business pack, one of them is unnecessary
The alien sinner is guilty of sin against God by turning his heart away from Him rejecting the means God has provided to save and shall be judged accordingly. But the Christian that turns his heart and life away from His majesty is not only guilty of producing sin in his life but is guilty of rejecting the right in order to commit and practice evil. We can learn from a valuable lesson presented in the Old Testament, of which the Apostle writes, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4). Jeremiah presents an invaluable lesson by considering God’s people in an ancient setting.
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold not water.” (Jer. 2:13). God had given Israel life refreshing them when necessary by bestowing richness and life. Dissatisfied with His care for them they sought the gods of the people around them. Their devises were liken unto digging cisterns in which to store the precious things they thought God could give them only to discover the storehouses they had made were broken. Thus God reveled that they were guilty of two evils, the first that they turned their back upon God by scorning His commandments. The second was seen in their embracing evil.
Jesus gives to us a fountain of living water. In His encounter with the Samaritan woman who desired water so that she would never thirst again, the Lord knew she misunderstood as it was not physical water that would quench thirst forevermore. “…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14). In these modern times the evil of denominationalism is embraced by many as promoting the sinfulness of division is thought and proclaimed to be a good thing. They are guilty of that evil and God will call men into account for participation in that evil. Some Churches of Christ have gone a step further. Knowing the will of God’s teaching about unity in one body they have turned to the ways of the world in doctrine and worship. Some have joined the ranks of the denominationalisms by preaching that the church revealed in the New Testament is just another sect or denomination. Some have gone so far that they have rejected the scriptural name of the church (Rom. 16:16), and fellowship all churches regardless of their inferiority and departure from the word of our Lord. Others have not gone that far yet have introduced into worship instruments of worship, bible classes, individual cups to distribute the fruit of the vine, and declaring it is good to have the church divide in eating the Lord’s Supper by setting the table twice or more times on Lord’s day to accommodate the convenience of people. Thus they are not guilty of one evil only—forsaking God’s way, but are guilty of a second evil—embracing the evil ways of the world. Is history repeating itself? Why are we so slow in learning the lessons of old? “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” (Jer. 2:11).
Israel was likened to the wife of God in olden times. God had selected Israel and bound the people unto Himself. They were a nation like no other, yet they wandered from the oracles given to them at the mountain of Sinai. Rather than bow in obedience they rebelled against God’s way, which meant they rebelled against God. They determined that they knew what was better for them than God. Rather than enjoying the blessings and contentment of God’s house they sought the affections of other nations (lovers). Observe this description of their actions. “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Why trimmest thy ways to seek love? Therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.” (Jer. 2:32-33). It does not matter how long a woman is married she never forgets the ornaments that adorned her on her wedding day. It matters little when compared to the garments she might obtain in later more prosperous days she always appreciates the dress she wore on that memorial day. It was the very best that could be had. Yet Israel had cast off and forgotten the righteous ways that had adorned her as God’s bride. This was not careless or a slip, it was predetermined. She did not want God or His ways anymore. God plead with her to return to Him with little effect. She trimmed her ways to make her suitable to idol worship. “Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no, for I have loved strangers and after them will I go.” (Jer. 2: 25), They were guilty: not of one evil which was forsaking God, but two— taking up the ways of the heathen and the worship of idols.
The Church of Christ is presented as the Bride (Wife) of Christ. “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Rom. 7:1-4). Israel being brought to God as His wife no longer was bound unto Him as the law (covenant) which bound them together was dead being fulfilled with the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. No only were the Jews freed from the law that was taken away, gentile people could not be constrained to submit to any of the ordinances it had imposed and were not presented as requirements to have a right relationship to God as taught by the Judizers (Col. 2:14-17). Israel (and all people), now that the Church is established the Apostle writes, “that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.” The Church of Christ is the wife of the Lord. “…Christ is the head of the church: and is the saviour of the body…the church is subject unto Christ…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:23-27). Christ prepares people to become His Bride through a certain process, ”washing and sanctification (setting apart). The washing was through baptism into Christ, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mk. 16:16). As the text says, Christ is the saviour of the body.” Being readied His Bride is presented to Him in all her beauty and splendor—she has no sin—no spot, wrinkle or blemish. When the sinners guilty of crucifying Jesus sought relief they were told to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” making them free from sin— without spot, wrinkle or blemish. Those accepting this promise “were baptized” resulting in being married to Jesus, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:38, 41, 47).
The church can “trim her ways to seek love.” By this action the church is guilty of spiritual adultery, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (Js. 4:4). Like the people of old described by Jeremiah the church can go gadding. The question might be asked today, “Why gaddest thou about to change thy way thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.” (Jer. 2:36). Gad means “to roll, turn or spin.” Our word spinster referring to a single woman or a married woman that acts the part of one who is single. She is no longer satisfied and content with her home life and her husband but ventures out to seek the love of others. In the case of Israel she had flirted with Egypt and Assyria only to later be ashamed. “Rolling, turning or spinning always ends in guilt and shame. Again, Israel was not guilty of one sin forsaking her husband (God), but guility of a second sin practicing that which was forbidden. When a congregation decides to regulate its affairs by the standards of the world rather than by the commandments of God it also is not guilty of one sin only the sin of the thing done, but is guilty of a second sin rejecting God’s word in order to commit the evil.
God did everything possible to call them to repentance even to reminding them that not only would they sever themselves from the blessing He had stored up for them, but in addition their wickedness would develop into heartaches and a curse. “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know thou therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.” (Jer. 2:19). He would judge them just as He did the nations about them, yet apparently they had ignored the clear, present, precise and oft repeated warnings. Israel had completely forgotten that the “Lord was the God of hosts (armies).” The result there was no fear left in them. They thought they could be victorious in battle without God. Their decision was clear “…but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.” (Jer. 2:25). Hope lies in the acceptance of God’s way—believing His promises—trusting in His strength—and obeying the stipulations imposed. Israel would not respond, except to say, “there is no hope.” Remember God has never left mankind and especially His people unless they make the decision to go without Him. “No hope” bespeaks of a hapless state.
The Church of Christ is wonderfully blessed because of God’s Son Jesus Christ. Serving God is a matter of choice, as with Israel He does not force His affections upon the church—it is true He wants our love but it must be without compulsion. God draws us unto Himself with the bands of love, keeping us ever near by continually showering upon us the promises of Divine care and preservation. He has shown us the end result if we chose to forsake Him for the affections of the religionist around us. While they are judged for their transgressions, know surely and presently we also shall be judged. “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them that do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds.” (Rom. 2:3-6). Some congregations apparently think that because they have placed the name CHURCH OF CHRIST on a sign before the meeting-house, worship without a mechanical instrument accompanying the singing, assemble without dividing into classes for teaching and use one cup to distribute the fruit of the vine God takes no notice of their disobedience in other ways. Accepting and promoting immorality the judgment of God upon a congregation as well as the denominational world, Why? Because such are not guilty of committing one sin only, by allowing such evils in their midst, but are guilty of a second evil, rejecting the right in order to practice evil. The Lord spoke to a church in Revelation two at verse twenty, “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” A congregation that tolerates fornication, no even more, promotes it among members shall not escape the day which Christ shall judge the living and the dead. It will be an awful day for a church that has condemned the practice of evil in worldly people yet are guilty of the same, because they are not guilty of only the sin itself, but are guilty of forsaking the right in order to practice evil.
May God help us to recognize the lesson presented in Israel of old and repent before it is to late. The consequence is not bordered by this world and life but reach all the way to eternity.
Barney Owens 1806
People speak of various things as being sensible while ignoring the most sensible of all:
Surrendering unto the Lord.
The inspired writers used various figures to illustrate the meaning and importance of the church in the eyes of God and the esteem of men. One such figure is “the body.” In this piece I will strive to show the body of Christ in a variety of ways hoping that it will give us a better understanding and appreciation of it. First, let us notice Paul’s statement in Ephesians chapter one. “(God) hath put all things under his (Christ’s) feet, and gave him (Christ) to be the head over all things to the church. Which is his (Christ’s) body the fulness of him (Christ)) that filleth all in all.” (V. 22-23). The church is plainly said to be the body of Christ. Therefore when speaking of the church we necessarily are speaking of the body, or, when using the term body we mean the church. There are many other passages that state or infer this fact. With that before you let’s proceed to notice:
The church or body of Christ is a physical organization. Generally speaking the world does not view Christ the head of the church in His exalted position and Divine character. I fear it is because the body of Christ is not esteemed as highly as it should be. We see the result in the careless manner that people frequently leave the church as well as the lack of interest that others take in the welfare and prosperity of the church. Generally speaking we estimate the worth and efficiency of a body by its head. A human body may be strong, well organized and healthy, but if its head be idiotic, we attach but little importance to that body. The same is true of organized society; we look to the head for honor and efficiency of the body. What esteem then should we put upon the church as it is declared in sacred writ to be the body of Christ? If that glorious person who “is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person—who created and upholds all things by the word of His power” condescended to be the Head of the church and allows Himself to be so regarded, then the body of Christ which is the church is not a little or a downcast affair. To be a member of the church is an exceedingly high position that each member of the body should prize. It is a relationship that the body has to the Head that all the powers of the universe cannot sever. How then we should strive with all our being to maintain the health and well-being of the body. To speak of the greatness of the Head is a reflection of the greatness of the body.
A word of caution to our readers. These things apply to the church of Christ, the body that He shed His blood for, not just any church or religious organization. Many well-intended persons are members of some church that is not mentioned or taught in the New Testament. Such work and maintenance is a vain effort. Some believe and express that Christ is the head of all the denominations in the world. Such a monstrosity is not only unscriptural it is an illogical contention. One Head—one body is God’s will as expressed in the word of truth. Therefore it behooves each of us to acquaint ourselves with the word of God and then seek out the church according to the due order.
The church is a unit because the body can be only one. The first time the word church is used in the New Testament gives emphasis to this truth. Jesus promised the disciples, “upon this rock (the confession Peter had made at V. 15,) I will built my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18). Jesus never promised to build various churches or many bodies to be the head of, He said “church.” No one would say or teach that He meant the church in Jerusalem to the exclusion of other faithful congregations. Rather He had reference to all congregations wearing the same name, worshipping in the same way, with the same organization. The only difference between them was in geographical location. If one visited the church in Jerusalem, then proceeded to a congregation in Antioch or Ephesus he would find them all the same in teaching and in practice. Speaking of himself the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am the least of the apostles, that I am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God and wasted it.” (I Cor. 15:9). There is evidence that Paul did not persecute a single congregation so he was using the term in a general sense to refer to the church wherever faithful disciples were found. “And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” (Acts 26:11). The church in the references is used in a general sense of the unit—the unit of which Christ is Head—the body or church of Christ. All congregations then and now of the church of Christ in light of Apostolic teaching compose the church the ONE BODY. It is a small step logically and scripturaly to see that each individual congregation is ONE BODY in a particular locality. We read of the church at Corinth and Galaltia and Philippi, etc. In addition we have the Lord walking among the churches of Asia. It must be kept in mind that these were not different denominations teaching different doctrines, with peculiar organizations from the others and worshipping in ways not found in Apostolic write. On the contrary, when there was a difference they were reproved and threatened that their relation to the Lord would be severed. Therefore even as they were found in a variety of localities they were one unit—ONE BODY under ONE HEAD—Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Each congregation is presented as a body because unity must exist among the members. We have seen that the church is a unit as each congregation is likened to every other congregation—to see one is to see all. Presently we will crawl over the wall of a single congregation to observe the working of each member is so constituted and joined that unity prevails to accomplish all the good possible. When one understands this unity he will have a correct vision of why Christ descended to this earth. Men where divided and sub-divided—Christ’s ministry was to break down the walls of discord creating unity in its place. We are not to understand that division ceased because the ever-working Devil knows that the cause of Christ prevails where Christians are united, therefore he kindles the heart of some to promote discord. That does not take away from the Lord’s purpose. Hear Him pray with His disciples near, “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 all may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me,” (Jn. 17:20-21). How closely knit and precious is the unity between the Father and the Redeemer and how closely are disciples united if and when we resemble that union. That unity can exist only when we conform our very nature to express the nature of the Heavenly Father. “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.” (II Pet. 1:4). The unity of Christians is often illustrated in Apostolic teaching by the unity that exists between members of the natural body. Read along with me a few
of these passages. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another.” (Eph. 4:25 & Rom. 12:4-5). If we are able to conceive the nearness of the relation existing between members of our physical body, then this is but a figure of the holy union that should exist among all members of the church, the mystical BODY OF CHRIST. ‘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.” (Eph. 4:15-16) What a beautiful description this is of the human body, every joint in its place supplying his part to edify other part of the body and all the members are fitly (not unfitly) joined together. The parts composing the joint all adapted to each other; and these are joined together by ligaments that hold the members in a very near relation to one another. Then by the outside membranes they are all compacted together. By each member doing its part, seen or unseen the body increases. In this same way the members of the body of Christ are united. The Lord’s plan and will is that each member supplying its place in the body all will “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10). Then by the effectual working of every part—of every member, whether preacher, elder, deacon and various members each working in its respective sphere for the general good, the body or church will increase in moral power as it grows.
The Apostle Paul goes to even greater length on the same subject to the brethren in Corinth. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink in that one Spirit, For the body is not one member, but many…if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of thee.” (I Cor. 12:12-14 & 19-21). Each member of the church must regard itself mutually dependent on every other member of the body, which results in a bond of peace. Continuing we are informed in verses 25-26. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all members rejoice with it.” We know that this is the way the natural body is united. If the lady’s little finger is honored by wearing a gold ring, her head is likewise honored: and more: all the members of the body partake of that honor. And if the most remote or smallest member of the natural body is pained, all the members of the body sympathize with it. If one member is diseased, the whole body becomes enfeebled. Why should a sound member of the body be deprived of strength by a disease in another member? It is because all the members have the same care one of another. The forces and power of all the members are concentrated at that part of the body attempting to overcome the disease and save the afflicted member. So should it be with the members of Christ’s mystical body. If one member is honored because of devotion to and usefulness in the church, the whole body is honored by having such a worthy member. Therefore no one should be jealous of the influence of another member, nor envious at the success of that member in doing good. Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.” (V. 27). It is not the individual good that a particular member may benefit for himself, it is the good of the body that counts.
One thing I wish to have you consider is the fact that we have one head of the church, namely Jesus Christ. None doubt or would contend otherwise. Yet the same people who affirm there is but one head will propagate the false idea that this one head is over many bodies or churches. I contend that there is but one head and he is the head of but one church. Furthermore, in all physical bodies, that have life, the head governs the body it is attached to. This being true, in the human body which is referred to in a figure by the Apostle, the head is the seat of judgment and will and by it all the members are controlled. One body—one head—one will—is Heavens order One body with two heads would be a monster as would be one head with many bodies. No body can act efficiently if the members are governed by different and conflicting wills. This is the secret cause of all the divisions among professed followers of Christ, when too many wills are consulted, too many heads are listened to, and too many lawmakers are in the mix. The adage is true in religion as in physical things “to many cooks spoil the broth.” When we acknowledge Christ as head of the body—the church, our wills will be lost in His, as self is crucified with Him by the cross. We bury self in baptism and rise to walk in newness of life “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:3-4). Anything done in the body is felt in the head. In our physical body the sympathetic nerves which connect with the head divides itself into thousands of fibers running thoughout the body carrying the sensation of the lightest touch of the most remote member to the head in the twinkling of an eye. It is by this means that the head sympathizes with all the members and the member’s sympathize with every other member. Likewise, the hurt and joy of each member of the body of Christ (church,) is known and felt by the Lord. It is important that we are aware that all actions are governed by His righteous will, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.” (Heb. 10:10).
Barney Owens 1805
With good and evil all about us it is necessary that we distinguish between them.
The issue is so great that we cannot afford to make a mistake.