(The venerable octogenarian - soon to be non-octogenarian -
J. A. McNutt once again offers his counsel born of many years
of study and observation. To the rebellious young we remind you
of the words of Moses, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary
head, and honor the face of the old man, and thou shalt fear thy
God: I am Jehovah" (Lev 19:32). Thank you, brother McNutt,
and God bless and keep you.)
Paul instructed Timothy, a young evangelist, concerning his behavior
in the house of God, which is the church of the living God. He
further affirms that this spiritual body, the church, is both
the pillar and the foundation upon which the truth rests (1 Tim.
3:15). The church of our Lord is so essential in God's plan of
salvation that all men should know how to conduct themselves in
the house of God. Christ loved the church and gave himself for
it having purchased it with is own blood (Acts 20:28). The church
is not our Savior, but Christ saves the church (Eph. 5:23, 25).
In the eyes of my Lord the church is destined to be glorious,
pure, holy, and without blemish (Eph. 5:27). The love of Christ
for his church is typical of the love that husbands should have
for their wives. Since this is true, what should be our attitude
toward the church? How could anyone hate or despise that which
the Lord loves and for which he died?
Paul Once Despised the Church
Before his conversion, Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul, was
a bitter enemy of the church. The early Christians feared him
because he had participated in the death of Stephen and was the
leader of the "great persecution against the church in Jerusalem"
(Acts 8:1). Christians, fearing for their lives, left Jerusalem
and were scattered abroad in the regions of Judea and Samaria,
except for the apostles. Following the burial of Stephen, it is
said, "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering
into every house, and hailing men and women committed them to
prison" (Acts 8:3).
Luke, the author of Acts, further describes Saul's severe persecution
of the church, prior to his conversion. He reports that, "Saul
yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples
of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters
to Damascus to the synagogues that if he found any of this way,
whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto
Jerusalem" (Acts 9:2).
Did Saul Feel He Was Right?
There can be no question as to Paul's sincerity or honesty when
he persecuted the followers of Jesus. In his defense before King
Agrippa he says, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought
to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which
thing I also did in Jerusalem and many of the saints did I shut
up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests;
and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them"
Our first introduction to Saul (or Paul) was when he consented
to the death of Stephen (Acts 7:58; 8:1). This was something he
lived to regret, but God forgave him because he did it "ignorantly
in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1:13). He was a fanatical supporter
of Judaism, who believed that Christ was an impostor, that Christians
were heretics and that he was honoring God by destroying the church.
Thinking he was right didn't make it right. Later he confessed
that he had been "chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). Having
a good conscience was no excuse for his actions (Acts 23:1). He,
like many good people today, who are practicing religious error,
are conscientious and think they are all right in churches founded
by men - churches never mentioned in the Bible. It is sad that
so many good people have been deceived by false teachers, and
are worshiping God in unscriptural ways (John 4:24). Search the
scriptures for yourself, open the New Testament and make sure
you are right.
Saul Convicted of His Sins
Christ challenged Saul from his throne in heaven saying "Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou me" (Acts 9:46). Saul learned,
finally, that in persecuting the church, he has really been persecuting
the Lord, who loves and defends his church. In despising and killing
those early Christians he has been fighting against God. No matter
how zealous and conscientious he had been, even though he thought
he was right, he sinned and needed to be forgiven of ignorance
and unbelief. Now "trembling and astonished," he says,
"Lord, what will thou have me to do?" Contrary to the
views of Calvinists, who say that man's salvation is by grace
alone, and that we cannot contribute one whit to our salvation,
Saul was told to "arise, and go into the city and it shall
be told you what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). Ananias, sent
to tell Saul what he must do, said, "Arise, and be baptized,
and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord"
Some False Teachers Despise the Church
There are some pseudo-intellectuals who despise the church, and
reject biblical authority. They have adopted the tenets of Calvinism
and the subjective views of neo-pentecostalism. They assert that
obedience is not essential, salvation is by grace alone and substitute
feelings for faith. Here are a few excerpts from tapes or lectures
by these men:
"It is a scandalous and outrageous lie to teach that salvation
arises from human activity. We do not contribute one whit to our
"I'm not saved because I believed, or because I repented,
or because I was baptized, or because I go to church, or because
I eat the Lord's Supper or because I give money, or because I
go to Jubilee."
The church is being ridiculed and attacked by these men. They
are teaching their children to despise the church by such statements
as this, "My children will not stay with the church I grew
up in. They will not be part of an irrelevance."
They reject pattern theology, but God had a strict pattern for
the tabernacle and the temple, and both were types of the church.
Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle:
"See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the
pattern shewed to thee in the mount" (Heb. 8:5).
God had a pattern for the ark, he has a pattern for the church,
and all that he does is according to a definite plan or pattern.
A lady was saying to her friend, "I made this dress without
a pattern." The friend replied, "Yes, I noticed."
What these men promote is not according to God's pattern. It features
compromise with denominationalism, and promotes Calvinistic theology.
Again we are told. "If your church is not willing to change,
the death warrant of your church has been signed." I am a
member of the Lord's church that began on Pentecost (Acts 2),
and did not originate with the Restoration Movement. It is destined
to stand forever (Dan. 2:44, Heb. 12:28).
Several erring brothers who continue to criticize, deride, and
vilify the church will one day give account to Christ for the
way they have treated his beautiful bride. We have endured their
contempt long enough. I am tired of being "church of Christers,"
"traditionalists," "moss backs," and "old
fogies" which reminds us that our brethren were stigmatized
in the same manner in the 1800s when the liberals stole our schools
and took our church buildings.
All of these men should be ashamed of how they have misquoted
and misrepresented many of the great gospel preachers who fought
the battles and established the churches where these men occupy
the pulpits and reap the fruits of the pioneer's labors. They
have the gall to criticize men whose shoelaces they would be unworthy
A man that hath set at nought Moses law dieth without compassion
on (the word of) two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment,
think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot
the Son of Got, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith
he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto
the Spirit of grace? For we know him that said, Vengeance belongeth
unto me, I will recompense. And again, The Lord shall judge his
people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after
ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of sufferings;
partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions;
and partly, becoming partakers with them that were so used. For
ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully
the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that ye have for yourselves
a better possession and an abiding one. Cast not away therefore
your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward (Heb. 10:2835).
Feature Book: Among the Scholars
by David W. Hester
Paperback, 167 pages
$7.99 + shipping and tax if applicable
Click here to order