The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 24, 2014


1) The Oneness of the Church (Harold Fite)
2) "It Was Donated By Individuals" (Frank Himmel)
3) News & Notes


The Oneness of the Church
by Harold Fite

The oneness of the church is unique. There is only one! It far transcends religious organizations founded by men.  

Background. The church belonging to Christ was conceived in the mind of God before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and brought into existence by his power through Jesus Christ. The church was not a substitute for the Kingdom as the Premillennialist would have us believe. It came into existence according to God's eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10, 11). Man cannot thwart the purpose of God. God envisioned a people that would know him, from the least to the greatest, and would have God's laws written on their heart. He would be their God and they would be his people (Heb. 8:10, 11). "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Eph. 1:4, 5). To foreordain or predestinate is to "decide and design prior to acting; making out boundaries or setting limits beforehand; to determine before." To illustrate the above: He who would be President of these United States must be a natural born citizen, being thirty-five years of age, having lived in this country fourteen years, and be willing to take the oath of office, upholding the Constitution. It could be said that the framers of the Constitution foreordained -- chose those who would sit in the President's chair. In like manner, God foreordained those whom he would adopt as sons. God did not choose or foreordain individuals -- consigning some to salvation and others to damnation -- but as a class of people for his own possession (1 Pet. 2:9, 10). The chosen are those in Christ by virtue of their obedient faith. They fulfill the requirements of adoption.  

The church becomes a reality. When Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he announced, "I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18). Approximately six months later the church had its beginning. Peter preached Christ on that occasion and 3,000 obeyed the gospel and were added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). Note the definite article "the." Not "a" church, but "the" church! Christ said "my church."

Christ purchased the church with his blood (Acts 20:28). The word "purchase" means "to gain; to get something for oneself." It conveys "possession." When Christ purchased the church, he purchased people: "for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9). He possessed those whom he purchased. He "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession (italics mine), zealous of good works" (Tit. 2:14). Peter echoes the same truth in 1 Peter 2:9: "But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession." He presented the church unto himself (Eph. 5:27).  

There is only one church recognized by the Lord. From the time God planned the church, until it was born, only one church was in his mind. It was never God's intention to bring forth a multiplicity of churches (denominationalism). Christ built one church, and he is the head of it: "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). He is "head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22,23). That being true, Paul dogmatically declares that "there is one body" (Eph. 4:4). If the church is the body, and the body is the church, and there is one body, it logically follows that there is one church! Denominationalism has no scriptural foundation! It is made up of many bodies (churches), founded by man, wearing different names and adhering to different faiths. This is not what God planned from the foundation of the world. We "were called in one body" (Col. 1:15). We are "baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). "But now there are many members, but one body" (1 Cor. 12:20).  

Oneness of those in the one body. As the church is one body, there is oneness among those who compose the one body. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the analogy of the physical body in explanation and application of the diversities of gifts. There are diversities of gifts, but one Spirit. There are many members, but one body. Note the following verses, beginning with verse 12: "For as the body is one, and hath many members. And all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ." "For the body is not one member, but many" (v. 14). "But now there are many members, but one body" (v. 20). The human body is made up of various members operating in conjunction with the head. Each member has its work to do, but all work together for the benefit of the body. This shows the interdependence of the different members of the body on one another. "The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee" (v. 21). The different members complement one another. Thus the spiritual body of Christ is one body, but made up of different members, working together as per instruction from the head, Jesus Christ. The spiritual body of Christ is "knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part" (Eph. 4:16). This contributes to the increasing of the body. There is a oneness there, a mutual supportiveness, kinship, and like-mindedness. This is the reason why we "bear one another's burdens." When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. When one member is honored, all rejoice (1 Cor. 12:26). If one member of the physical body is injured, the entire body is affected. Whether one suffers or is honored, it touches other members of the spiritual body. We "rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep" (Rom. 12:15). This could be called sympathetic vibration: "vibration produced in one body by the vibration of exactly the same period in a neighboring body."  Strike one prong of a tuning fork and the tone is transmitted to the other prong, hence the musical term sympathy.  

The believers gathered in Jerusalem "were of one heart and soul . . .they had all things common." The apostle Paul exhorted the Philippians to "stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27). "Seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor. 10:17).  

Denominationalism has no justification in the Scriptures. Those who are being saved are in his body, the church (Eph. 5:23). "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it" (Ps. 127:1). May we strive earnestly to attain that ideal oneness in the one body.  

"All the churches of Christ salute you" (Rom. 16:16).  

-- Via Truth Magazine, March 2007, Volume LI, Number 3


"It Was Donated By Individuals"
by Frank Himmel

The New Testament does not authorize sharing common meals as part of a local church's collective function. To the contrary, 1 Corinthians 11:22 and 34 clearly assign that to the home, not the church. Additionally, Acts 2:46 illustrates that taking meals together was a "house to house" activity for first century Christians. If eating such meals is not part of our collective work, it is obvious that a church providing facilities in which to eat is equally unauthorized.  Renaming such facilities "fellowship halls" or "family life centers" instead of kitchens and dining halls changes nothing!

Many brethren who have these facilities and activities feel little need to justify them Biblically. Along with a host of other things unknown in the New Testament, they are swept in by the broom of attracting more people, good works, etc. Others, a bit more cautious about the necessity of Bible authority, offer various rationales. One I have heard of several times lately is this: the kitchen equipment was donated by individuals, not paid for from the church's treasury.  

This reminds me of an incident a number of years ago. A deacon and I went to see a woman who had visited our services. She was struck by the fact that we did not have instrumental music, assumed it was because we could not afford it, and offered to buy us a piano! We declined, of course, explaining the Biblical principles involved. But what if she had donated a piano? Would it have been okay to use it because it was not paid for out of the church's treasury?

What is the practical difference between someone giving cash on a Sunday and the church going and buying a stove with it vs. that individual buying the stove and donating it to the church? Either way it is the church's stove, to be used in its facility, in an activity advertised under its name, with the approval of its leaders, for the enjoyment of its members -- an activity that is just as unauthorized as ever!

If several of our young mothers installed some playground equipment at the building, took turns watching each others' children here all day, put a notice about it on the bulletin board, and invited others to drop off their kids as well, would anyone honestly try to say the church was not in the day care business simply because the equipment was not paid for out of the church's treasury?

The hollowness of this rationalization ought to be self-evident.  Such arguments would never be made if we would be content to live by Bible authority.  

-- Via The Beacon, December 3, 2013


News & Notes

Let us continue to keep Myrna Jordan in prayer who has chosen to undergo surgery and has been discussing that with her doctor, though the date for it has not yet been made.  

On August 8, Danielle Howard had been back in the hospital, due to her calcium level being too low.  On the 19th, it had climbed high enough that she was transported back to Jesup Health and Rehabilitation.  But she was soon back in the hospital again on the 22nd, due to low calcium; and returned to Jesup on the 26th.  Even when the calcium level is better, she is still transported to the Mayo hospital in Waycross three times a week for dialysis.  It's about an hour drive, one way.   

Norma Burton was re-admitted to the hospital August 25, due to swelling in her legs and feet; but is now back in the convalescent home. 

Virginia Fontenot continues to battle with cancer.  As mentioned in the last update, her cancer markers had tripled to 168, even with the new chemo; and any exertion would cause her breathing to be labored.

Jim Lively recently began using a breathing machine to help in his sleeping and to improve his condition.  He is also hoping that his heart surgery will be soon. 

Let us also be remembering A.J. and Pat Joyner in prayer.  They will be moving to Texas in a couple weeks and are still getting packed up and ready for that.  

Others on our prayer list: Ronnie Davis, Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jewel Wilson, Mary Vandevander, Deborah Medlock, Shirley Davis, Sue Wooten, and Colleen Henson.

We were glad to hear the recent news that  Jonathan and Anita Abbott will be having a grandson (and Jim and Martha Lively a great grandson) who is to be born January 13.  Let us be keeping him and his mother in prayer. 

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)     
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Tebeau Street

1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
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