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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

The New Testament Church
Is Divine In Doctrine

By Louis Rushmore

The early church was taught an aversion to humanly devised creeds. Jesus declared a cardinal abuse under Judaism was the substitution of human doctrine for teaching of divine origin (Matthew 15:9). "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." The apostle Paul heartily affirmed the Gospel alone effects the salvation of men (Romans 1:16; Galatians 1:6-12). The Gospel (New Testament) is comprised of: (1) instruction (doctrine or teaching), (2) God's unfolded scheme for man's redemption, and (3) God's assignment of a three-fold mission to the church.

New Testament: Only Creed of the Church

Creeds of human origin are the source of vast religious division around the world. Whereas human creeds change periodically, New Testament ink long ago dried, making the doctrine of the New Testament changeless. Even from a human perspective, accepting the New Testament as sole creed and doctrine in religion is more likely to achieve the unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20-21) than the sum of all alternatives some ecumenical movement may promote.

Before the judgment bar at times end, all men will be judged by the covenant of God under which they lived (Revelation 20:12-15). Men cannot be sanctified by substandard, humanly devised righteousness (Romans 10:1-3; Matthew 7:21-23). Neither will people living in the Gospel (New Testament) Age be received into heaven through compliance with the Old Testament standard from which we have been delivered (Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15; Romans 7:6, 7; Hebrews 8:6-13). Anyone trying to live by the Old Law (Testament) today is outside of God's saving grace (Galatians 5:1-5). The New Testament alone is the absolute and final standard of authority in religion to which man must appeal today. It teaches man how to live with his fellow man, how to worship and serve God, and how to receive the blessings of the Gospel and hope of heaven.

Redemption

Redemption is inseparably tied to membership in the Lord's church; the Lord adds the redeemed or saved to the church (Acts 2:47). However, the confused religious community challenges souls with a religious shopping center of different churches and accompanying redemption doctrines. It is imperative the truth seeker wade through the swamp of human doctrines and espouse only God's redemptive plan and the church to which the Lord adds the saved. The "seed" which when planted into the honest hearts of men produces Christians only and only the Lord's church is the "word of God" only (Luke 8:11).

The Gospel or New Testament addresses God's plan of salvation in several passages. Often, religious people acknowledge many of the divine prerequisites to salvation. However, as often they select only those which they cherish to the exclusion of other elements to which Scripture attributes saving power. Abbreviated, the divine plan of salvation requires: (1) hearing God's Word exclusively (Romans 10:17), (2) nurturing a saving, obedient faith (James 2:20, 24, 26), (3) repenting of past sins (Acts 17:30-31), (4) confessing Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), (5) burial (baptism) in water to wash sins away (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 22:16), and (6) remaining faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). A divine appendix to the plan of salvation for erring children of God

is penitent prayer (Acts 8:22).

Mission of the Church

All the church is commanded by Scripture to do falls within three categories: evangelism, benevolence, edification. If something does not come under one of these departments, it is neither the mission nor the responsibility of the church. A function may even be authorized by Scripture, and yet not concern the church; for instance, it may fall in the realm of the home's responsibility. The home is another divine institution, but the roles of the home and the church, though they often interact, are not the same.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:2) is fundamentally tied to the visible existence of the church in its local sense. This makes evangelism the chief mission of the church. Yet, the church must also mature or edify itself to maintain God's favor (1 Corinthians 14:12; Hebrews 5:12-6:2). Too, the Lord's church must possess and exhibit the highest form of love toward fellow men (Matthew 22:37-40; James 1:27; Galatians 6:10), in a small way imitating the love of God shown to man. The practice of benevolence also contributes to the goodwill of men toward the church and affords the church valuable contacts for the exercise of evangelism.

Conclusion

Some estimates indicate the churches of Christ number nearly 20,000 congregations and about 2,000,000 members world-wide. Since each congregation is autonomous from every other congregation, it is nearly impossible to address figures of this nature with certainty. However, irrespective of the actual number of congregations and members, the vast brotherhood of churches of Christ is predicated upon no creed but the New Testament alone. Though there are several variant views on a handful of fields of biblical inquiry, these pale in comparison to creedal segmented denominationalism.

Following the New Testament only affords the Lord's church a measure of safety from world-wide apostasy; individual Christians and churches which depart from the New Testament do not necessarily imperil other Christians and churches, whereas, were the church bound to a human creed, as went the creed so would go the whole church. This is the plight of the bulk of the religious community today. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).


H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email: had@worldnet.att.net
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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