It is refreshing when we receive requests asking for Footprints Of Jesus. On the other hand, it is somewhat disappointing when we are asked to remove a name from the mailing list. Footprints Of Jesus continues to be one of the best bargains, since it is sent without cost. Often we wonder why someone wishes to be withdrawn at other times there is no mystery to it. As the above caption was intended (I think), to discourage or at least to push us to amend our teaching and ways, which would happily be done, if, it accomplished anything to the praise and glory of God or the betterment of humanity. However, as things stand, we must accept the authority of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible, leaving us without power to alter anything. After all, we can only point our readers to the Scripture. The invitation is always open to show wherein we err and with due consideration each matter is investigated. Otherwise, our desire is rather simple: to live the Christian life all our days and go to Heaven after we die.
Do you, dear Reader think us too narrow-minded? While we wish to be offensive to none, just how broad-minded can we be and remain loyal to God and faithful to Jesus Christ? Perhaps by pursuing this idea there may be profit in it for some.
Consulting Webster, I found the following definition: “narrow-minded, adj. limited in outlook; not liberal; bigoted; prejudiced.” In our world today, all these things are looked upon with downcast eyes, and rightly they should be if and when we are considering earthly, worldly or fleshly things. Yet, it is entirely another matter when we consider things that are moral and/or religious. Jesus as a preamble to His Kingdom which He was to set up in the world counseled His disciples, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Mt. 7:13-14). God’s way is narrow and restricted demanding that His followers limit our view, restrain our heart from the liberal ways of the world, accept the label of a bigot and refrain from any practice which fails to conform to Divine will.
Furthermore, Jesus declared, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn. 8:32). By way of the Lord’s definition that enables us to know what He meant by “truth”, He said later, “thy word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17). It is the word of God that makes us free from sin, from error, from damnation. Error cannot save nor free one from either guilty sin or the practice of error. As narrow as it may seem to many, there are some who yet appeal to the word of God for their belief and practice. Since the Bible is our only guide, all else is false and must be rejected. Our mind must be aforehand made up leaving us “limited in our outlook, not liberal, bigoted, prejudiced.” There cannot be an apology for following the Bible as the rule for living.
BIBLE TEACHING REGARDING THE CHURCH THAT DEMANDS ONE BE NARROW-MINDED
From the time the church was established in the world members have been viewed as too narrow-minded. They regarded it as a heresy among themselves speaking of it as a sect. “Concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.” (Acts 28:22). The Apostles would not allow themselves to be classified as a part of anything. Paul before Governor Felix declared, “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the prophets.” (Acts 24:14). After Paul’s sermon, “Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way.” (Acts 24:22). The religion which the Jews embraced was taken away by the death of Jesus on the cross and He brought into the world a new creation—a new man—a new body—a new church containing both Jew and Gentile. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” (Eph. 2:13-16). In spite of all the efforts of the Jews to stamp out the church, it continued to flourish. “When they called the apostles, and had beaten them, they commanded them that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.” (Acts 5:40). “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house and hailing men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them.” (Acts 8:2-5). The Cause of Christ and the sword have nothing in common. If the sword is drawn by an individual or a nation to extend Christianity it will soon be learned that the effort is a vain one, since Christianity cannot be stabbed into a man or forced into him in any other way. Likewise, if any should try to thwart Christianity with the sword he will soon learn (as those of the past) that it cannot be exterminated by force since it is the message of truth that “makes or breaks” the church.
As time passed, the Bishop of Rome began to muster power over the elders of surrounding churches. By the third century, he had gained favor with the Emperor of Rome. The Bishop took supreme authority over the church revealing himself as the “man of sin—the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” This all came to pass as the Apostle predicted (II Thes. 2:4-5). All those who were bigoted or narrow-minded against the Pope were punished in ways almost inconceivable to us living in modern times. Some were even put to death as they sought to please God. Ultimately the Bible was taken from the common man and the world entered into the period known in history as the Dark Ages. As the Jews before them, the Roman Catholic Church looked upon all who would not accept them in fellowship as heretics. Christians went into hiding. The light flicked but even this monster with all its power could not extinguish the light nor persuade all men to abandon “the Way.” Catacombs were poor substitutes for our modern church buildings with heat, air-conditioning and carpeted floors, but the people esteemed the things of the world as nothing and Jesus Christ as all in all, as they feared “not them which kill the body; but are not able to kill the soul:” (Mt. 10:28).
Courageous men arose who were so narrow-minded that they no longer accepted the traditions, images and relics of Catholicism that had no authority in the word of God. Discarding the threat of being shunned and banished from the established church now authorized by the state they protested. The number grew until the Reformation was in full bloom. The difficulty was that these tried to “reform” the Roman church. Various groups opposing vigorously certain tenants of Roman Catholic Doctrine spawned denominationalism. Accentuating certain doctrines or the men that proclaimed them the names of these men or particular doctrines began to be worn as religious names. These increased as honest souls joined the various sects or churches around them. Having a common foe (Roman Catholicism), the churches sought unity in error which meant that the Church established by Christ lost its value and these began to preach that church membership is not important and a man may join the church of his choice with the approval of God. Today these Protestant Denominations have espoused common ground with the “Mother Church” to the point that very few even think about the meaning of being a Protestant. Being a Catholic or a Protestant is accepted by the majority as pleasing to God. Narrow-mindedness has all but vanished. The Broad Way is the popular way. Amid all the confusion, division and mayhem when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” (Jug. 17:6) with little or no regard for God’s way, arose men who not only carried a Bible in their hand but cherished it in their heart. Such men were not content with the confines of Rome or the separating walls of denominationalism. They pointed people to the work of Jesus who sought to unite men in one body not many bodies. They looked not to Italy or Germany, but Jerusalem as the model for the church. If preaching the Gospel on the first Pentecost after Jesus arose from the dead caused men to give ear creating faith and obedience, whereupon the Lord added these to the church, then preaching the same Gospel in modern times would also result in the same faith and like obedience. The result would be the Lord adding the obedient to His church. They resolved to read the Bible and allow it to guide in all things religious. Soon it was learned that a pattern was within the Bible for men to follow. If the Bible said it, they also would say it. If the Bible said nothing about it, they kept silence about such matters. For faith and practice, it was the “perfect law of liberty.” (Js. 1:25). For every rule of action they were governed by “the law of the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2). For their creed, it was “Jesus Christ” alone. Rather than attempting to Reform the Roman Catholic Church, their desire was to Restore the church of the Bible or be like the church in Jerusalem. By planting the Gospel seed which is “the word of God” (Lk. 8:11), the only plant produced would be the church revealed in the New Testament. The creeds and doctrines of men necessarily had to be rejected. Wearing the names of men or those that exalted particular doctrines could not be worn as these were dishonoring to God, fostered division and promoted anarchy. Creed books, church manuals and prayer books were worthy of a good old-fashioned burning allowing the word to grow and spread. “Many…brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:19-20). The novel idea of Restoring truth rather than Reforming error caught on like wild fire. Bible reading people saw the validity of the plea, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” (I Pet. 4:11). The time of which the Apostles spoke was renewed, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Rom. 2:16). The realization that salvation was not in the words of men took hold of sincere hearts. “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world are ye subject to ordinances…Which all are to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men.” (Col 2:20 & 22).
But, it was not all smooth sailing. Bible discussions about things disagreeable broke out all over the country. These often escalated into public discussions with opposing sides selecting representative men to champion their cause. Reading the Bible for themselves, people were able to discern the truth as had not been done since the days of the Apostles. Multitudes obeyed the Gospel and churches of Christ were established in cities and in the country. The only weapons available to Satan was to ridicule Bible teaching and mock those contending for the practice of New Testament Christianity. Heard everywhere was the charge, “you are too narrow-minded.”
That charge did not deter these Bible readers. They would retort, “Jesus is the only Savior and that is narrow” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus died for His church—not for another (Acts 20:28, Eph. 5:25). The “way of Christ is the narrow way” (Mt. 7:13-14). In light of these and similar things found in the Scripture being called narrow-minded is not a bad thing.
(more to follow)
Barney Owens 1309
Viewing the interest some have in playing games, if we could make Bible reading a game, perhaps there would be more interest in it.
Watching my grandson on his spring horse reminded me of some Christians: there is plenty of motion but no progress.