religion, christianity, articles
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Despising the House of God

By J. A. McNutt

religion, articles, christianity

(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" (Acts 26:9­10).

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" (Acts 22:16).

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 salvation."

"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 to loose.

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).

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Published October 1997