Should “Custom” Prevail As Law?

It is disturbing and worrisome to me that we have, within the Lord’s church, those who are so deeply committed to customs and man-made traditions that they might hurt the church over matters of opinion and option, not matters of doctrine. They appear to defend and demand long-held practices that are matters of mere choice as though what they defend and demand is stated doctrine in Scripture. They think their personal likes should reign over any changes in matters of judgment or optional expediency. They want their long-held practices in matters of judgment to prevail over any change in those matters, such as (for example): time of services or order of worship, etc. Any deviation from their “norm” (custom) is uncomfortable and looked upon by them as being “unscriptural” when, in fact, it is not unscriptural. What these brethren fail to realize is that by demanding their way in such matters they actually denominationalize the church. They turn it into a denomination. They would probably be horrified to hear this said of them. Nevertheless, it is the case. Jesus addressed this: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” Matthew 15:7-9.

“The Pre-Denominational Church”

One may have noticed the sign in front of the church building at Hartley Bridge Road in Macon, Georgia, that reads, “The Pre-Denominational Church.” This was recently put up temporarily to elicit interest, comments, and questions. But, it also declares a simple truth. The New Testament church—the church that Jesus died to establish (Matt. 16:18)—is the “pre-denominational” church. “Why? What does it mean?” some ask.

The prefix, “pre”, is defined by Webster, “earlier than: prior to: before.” The Lord’s church (Acts 2; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18; Heb. 12:28; 1 Tim. 3:15; Rom. 16:16) was established in the First Century by Jesus hundreds of years prior to (before; earlier than) the existence of any denomination.

Denominations are the products of the false doctrines of men (Matt. 15:8-9). Jesus did not die for even one denomination to come into existence! Denominationalism was completely unknown in the First Century. When penitent believers obeyed the gospel (Rom. 1:16), Jesus added them to His church (Acts 2:37-47) and to nothing more, nor less! Jesus has only one bride (Eph. 5:23-33), one body (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Col. 1:18), one temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17), and one kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19; Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:9). Jesus has only one church. He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” (Matt. 16:18). Notice that he said “church” (singular; only one). He did not plan to build or establish more than one church, and He did not. He built the one that He planned to build.

The phrase “pre-denominational” is not said out of arrogance or self-righteousness, but because it is fact. Are you in the “pre-denominational” church? Are you in the one and only true church of the Lord–the church one may read about in the New Testament? We seek to call people back to the simple Christianity of the New Testament. May we help you to understand more and obey the gospel of Christ?

Sectarianism in the Lord’s Church

A recent post on a so-called “Church of Christ” FB page on which a supposed member wrote: “The Church of Christ teaches…,” and then she went on to make her allegations about what the church teaches. The use of the phrase, “The Church of Christ teaches…” is a denominational concept. The church of the New Testament is not a denomination, but we have many in the church who look upon it as just another one.

The church of Christ does not teach anything. The Bible reveals the mind of God and Christians teach it. The church has no earthly headquarters that issues a doctrinal platform on anything. That is the beauty and uniqueness of having autonomous congregations. These same folks on that FB page claim that we are “patternists” or follow what they call “pattern theology” as though there is something wrong with following God’s divine Pattern, Hebrews 8:5.

Many in the church need simple fundamental education in the basics of the Scriptures. They need to know what the New Testament says about the church and about how the Bible authorizes. Let us keep the church pure in doctrine and in practice. “Speak thou the things that befit sound doctrine.” 1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:3, Titus 1:9; 2:1.

Speaking the same thing and being of one accord and one mind, of one heart and one soul (as we are commanded to do), implies a pattern of thinking and behaving alike, 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Acts 2; Phil. 1:27; 2:2. Otherwise, we have confusion, and God is not the author of confusion, 1 Cor. 14:33, nor diverse doctrines on the same subject.

Biblical baptism follows the pattern of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Rom. 6. Those who object to “patternism” say they have been baptized as set forth in the New Testament. Paul spoke of baptism as following that “form” or “pattern” of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, Romans 6:17-18. Whether they realize it or not, they are “patternists” in the very matter of baptism. I wonder if they have ever thought about that? And, if so, I wonder if that galls them?

The apostle Peter admonishes Christians, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:” – 1 Peter 2:21 (NKJV).  The word “example” here means, “a writing-copy for one to imitate” (Robertson’s Word Pictures). Thus, a “pattern” to follow!

So, I guess I am a “patternist.” What does that make those who do not follow God’s pattern? “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”  2 Timothy1:13 (NKJV).