EDITOR'S NOTE: From time to time, we reprint articles that were originally printed in the Columbus Dispatch in the 1970's. This series of articles was titled "The Bible, The Way", and were arranged by Aubrey Belue, Sr., a former elder of the East Columbus church of Christ, up until his death in the late 70's. As with our Retro Sermons Podcast, we believe these articles have just as much Scriptural relevance today as they did then. -SM
The teachings of our Lord during His earthly ministry had great significance 1900 years ago. Jesus taught men what they should do in order to please the Father. He indicated also how He knew that the things He spoke were pleasing: “as the Father taught. . . I do always the things that are pleasing to him” (See all of John 8:28-29).
We now live in the 20th century, and times have changed. Men devise their own plans for how to please God. The fact remains, however, that we please Him by doing only those things, in the realm of religion, which He has taught us, just as Jesus said.
Jesus described His standard of religious practice with regardto right and wrong when He said, “EVERY PLANT WHICH MY HEAVENLY FATHER PLANTED NOT, SHALL BE ROOTED UP…” (Matt. 15:13, emphasis added). Let us consider some of God’s “plants” with regard to His church, as opposed - to some of the popular “weeds” or traditions planted by men. It is proper to refer to man’s religious traditions which contradict God’s Word as weeds since Jesus said that God will root them up, being displeased with them.
The one church that Jesus built is neither a denomination nor a union of denominations. It is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), and Christ, being one Head, has but one body. (Eph. 4:4). This one church is also described in the book of’ Ephesians as the holy temple and the household of God (2: 19-22). There are many “stones” in the temple, but only one temple. There are many servants in the household, yet there is but one house.
The church is also likened unto the bride or wife of Christ. Certainly Jesus does not have hundreds of wives. For this reason, divisions in the Lord’s church are condemned (1 Cor. 1: 10-13).
Men, of course, have organized denominations. Religious names are by their very nature divisive. Members of various denominations admit that they form denominational bodies, and openly view themselves as segments of the body of Christ. And they trust that the approval of God rests peacefully on such division.
Some point out that there are different rooms in a large house, therefore making it possible for the “house of God” to have many denominations. The New Testament writers never made such an application. Indeed, they condemned it, as seen in 1 Cor. 1:10 where Paul said: “I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing....” The very reason for denominations is that people teach different creeds, not the one doctrine of the New Testament.
We read in the New Testament of independent congregations of God’s people. No other form of organization is spoken of, such as a “mother church” in authority over “daughter churches.” God never planted the “mother church” arrangement; men did. Christ is the only Head over the universal church of His people and over any one, congregation.
Remember, we learn how to please the Father by the things HE TAUGHT through Jesus and the New Testament writers. The traditions of men make void the Word of God (Matt. 15:6), and “every plant which the heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up.” The day of rooting up is surely coming! -Richard Copeland – “The Bible – The Way”, Columbus Dispatch, February 2, 1975