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The Aim of a True Church of Christ

by Stanford Chambers

Stanford Chambers (1877-1969)

Stanford Chambers (1877-1969)

From May 1917 Word and Work

In order for a congregation of people to be a true New Testament Church of Christ its members must, of course, be true born-again Christians. As a church they must be independent of any and all denominational control, recognizing no creed but Christ, and no book but the Bible, as in any wise authoritative in matters religious. Christ alone must be its head His Spirit its life and His word its light.

The members of a New Testament Church strive to be simply Christians—Christians only, and they plead with others to do likewise, and thus eliminate one of the chief causes of continued divisions, viz., party names. As Christians only they are satisfied with what is written and “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” considering it dangerous to attempt an improvement upon the perfect, though simple, system of the New Testament. They plead for such oneness of God’s people as will enable all in a given community to sit down at one Communion Table, recognizing but “one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” They have an assurance that in the simple New Testament way is a real true basis of unity which all who love unity and sincerely pray for it can agree upon.

When the divisions of Christendom decide to begin earnestly to answer the Lord’s prayer for the oneness of believers there must needs be chosen one head. As long as there are open Bibles and people to read them no head but one could ever be agreed upon, and that head is Christ. A name must needs be chosen, but there is only one name under heaven, that, so long as there are people who love the Word, could be agreed upon, and that name is Christ. No one is offended by being called a Christian. A guide book or book of discipline must be chosen. Those written by men contradict each other and each has comparatively few adherents, but all Christendom professes to believe in the New Testament, hence all could agree on that. Notwithstanding the many conflicting creeds on the plan of salvation and the initial steps into the church, all will agree that, in the New Testament, those who, hearing, believed, repented and were baptized into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were thus far Spirit-led and thereby came into the rights and privileges of the Church. Here then is a basis of unity.

As to the action of baptism, while some are sprinkled, some are poured and others are buried in baptism, yet all religious bodies recognize immersion as baptism, which can not be said of sprinkling or pouring. The basis of agreement here, therefore, is that which all recognize as safe.

Orders of worship today are many and varied, over which are endless controversies. As long as there are those who   believe that the essential of religion is worship and that God is ever seeking such as will worship Him in spirit and in truth, just that long will the question of worship be considered vital. The solution, however, is simple. The New Testament church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Why not all unite upon that? No one’s conscience would protest against it. Nor would conscience protest against omitting from worship any thing which is not embraced in either teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread or prayers. Praise and thanksgiving are in prayer; breaking of bread embraces the whole of the communion service; the grace of liberality and contribution are embraced in the fellowship while reading, exposition, exhortation and singing spiritual songs, in which the word of Christ dwells richly, are scriptural methods of teaching. All of the acts are enjoined, and for them we have approved scriptural example, in the Lord’s Day observance.

 

The disciples at Troas came together upon the first day of the week to break bread. The apostle taught them during that meeting. Galatians, Corinthians and all “in every place” are enjoined to “lay by” on the first day of the week as they have been prospered. Prayers, no one will deny, were observed in every meeting. So the New Testament churches continued every Lord’s Day in teaching, and fellowship, in breaking of bread and prayers. Some today do not thus observe the Lord’s Day, it is true, but it is not because their consciences would condemn them for doing so.

On the other hand many do things in public worship which are not included in the New Testament order, and such innovations, too, are in great demand, but conscience is not the right name for that within which makes such demand. Many consciences unto this day are grieved at the continual thrusting of instrumental music upon them in public worship. In protesting against this as well as other artificial worship they keep company with such men as Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Campbell, Spurgeon, Clark, Franklin, McGarvey, et al. of the greatest and godliest the world has ever known. Since no one’s conscience demands the modern musical program, and on the other hand many are conscientiously grieved thereby, the basis of unity here is the singing of spiritual songs, “making melody in the heart to the Lord.” There is no controversy over this.

Many godly men of Bible knowledge can not conscientiously participate in or endorse any form of religious merchandising as a substitute for, or a supplement to the grace of liberality, and the cheerful giving which the Bible teaches. Here, as in the case of other innovations, conscience is not the right name for that which demands the “Church Fair,” the “Ladies’ Bazaar” or the “Charity Ball.” Nor is it conscience which protests against the straight out and cheerful giving of the Bible.

All, therefore, can unite on the Bible way in this as in all other matters over

which differences exist. Controversy is over the things not taught in the New Testament. Few of the things therein taught are in controversy.

The aim of a true church of Christ is to hold fast the Head, even Christ, and the sound doctrine; to be ever filled with His Spirit of love, obedience and worship; by speaking as the oracles of God, to build upon the one scriptural foundation on which all can unite to the defeat of Satan and the salvation of men, to the glory of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

How blest and how joyous will be the glad day,

When heart beats to heart in the work of the Lord;

When Christians united shall swell the grand lay,

Divisions all ended triumphant His word!”

-Stanford Chambers, May 1917




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10