The expressions “non-institutional” and “conservative” are commonly used by brethren today to describe an assembly of brethren who do not support the sponsoring church or human institutions, and who are not liberal-minded in their spiritual thought. But we need to be aware that these terms are also now being used among a great many brethren to describe congregations where brethren gladly advocate and practice the false teachings of “unity in diversity”, and where the endorsement and fellowship of brethren who teach and/or practice soul destructive error is a common occurrence.
So, it had better become obvious to faithful brethren that “soundness” in teaching and practice involves a great deal more than simply describing an assembly of brethren as being non-institutional or conservative. I am confident that we could all profit from a full examination of what constitutes the acceptance and practice of “sound doctrine” among our brethren, but for our purposes in this particular article we must recognize that a sound and faithful group of brethren will be those who abide in the doctrine of Christ, John 8:31-32, and who will not receive anyone who does not bring this teaching, 2 John 9-11. These are brethren who have fellowship with God and one another because they walk in the light, 1 John 1:5-7, and they are very concerned and careful that they have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, Ephesians 5: 6-14.
Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: In a Sound Church, Yet Without a Clue
None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See
Even though you soberly warn people of the dangers which are down the road that they are traveling, even though you tell them over and over what the consequences of their doctrinal choices will be, even though you fervently plead with them to realize that they are being deceived, even though you remind them of the vivid history of digression that cries out for them to examine and evaluate the path which they have chosen to walk, it is clearly obvious that many will absolutely refuse to look at the evidence and refuse to open their eyes to the apostasy that they, without any hesitation, seem to have bought in to – hook, line, and sinker! Indeed they choose to remain blind and they willfully refuse to open their eyes to see! Our frustration is almost beyond bearing when we see our own brethren in Christ, many of them the loved ones of our own families, who are not willing to listen to warnings or open their eyes to see the precipice of sin and digression which is only steps away from where they are walking.
Continue reading » Unity in Diversity Error
More than forty years ago, I shared in the Lord’s work with a faithful gospel preacher in Birmingham, Alabama, who was the only preacher among our black brethren in that area who truly stood firm for the Truth and preached it with all boldness. Brother James Ashhurst, now deceased, was one of the finest men that I have ever had the opportunity to work with in my efforts to preach the gospel. Brethren Frank Smith and Bob Crawley, both now deceased, had the same confidence in this brother and diligently worked to help him in every way that they could to carry the gospel to the black people who made up almost half of the population of Birmingham during those difficult years of the 60’s.
Brother Ashhurst was telling me one day about a brother whom he was trying to strengthen through teaching and said to me, “brother Reed, helping this brother is like trying to charge a battery which has a dead cell – you can charge it, and charge it, and charge it, and it will still be dead!” I thought then, and think even more today that our lack of effectiveness in providing strength, soundness, and knowledge to a great many of our brethren is being hampered tremendously by our having to try so hard to charge a battery which has a dead cell!
Continue reading » Charging A Battery That Has A Bad Cell
When I was a “boy preacher” it seemed that getting enough material together for a fifteen minute sermon was almost an insurmountable task! One who is limited in experience may feel that he has enough material to preach for an hour or more, but when his lesson is delivered, it only turns out to be ten or fifteen minutes. We have all had those experiences in preaching, whether as the one doing the preaching or as one who is listening and seeking to encourage young men to dedicate their lives to preaching the Word of God. My personal experiences with those efforts go back well over fifty years, and every opportunity we have, we are still trying to encourage others to take on these responsibilities. I am most happy that I can continue to hear those ten or fifteen minute sermons from young men who are just beginning to preach the Word!
But, brethren, I am greatly disturbed, filled with perturbation, and absolutely upset emotionally when I hear of experienced and able men who have “toned down” their preaching to these fifteen, or twenty minute sermons! On top of that, they are leaving the impression with the young and inexperienced preachers that such is really what “preaching” is all about! And if all that is not frightening enough, I am also realizing that much of this preaching is almost totally void of scripture and is nothing more than a simple story or tale of some kind, with much of the “few” minutes being filled up with jokes or humorous tales! To call such as that “preaching” is to absolutely disgrace the concept! It seems obvious that those who are engaged in this practice are either ignorant of what gospel preaching is all about, or else they are intentionally seeking to avoid saying anything which is spiritually instructive or edifying! Could it be possible that they simply want to “entertain” their audience (Galatians 1:10)? Or is it possible that they are very limited in “intestinal fortitude” and are therefore just cowardly staying away from condemning sin, exposing error and false teaching, and refusing to boldly encourage fellow Christians to live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present world (Acts 20: 26-27) (Titus 2: 11-12)?
Continue reading » Instruction and Edification (Fifteen or Twenty Minutes at a Time)
(Editor’s Note: The following article is complementary to the discussion regarding the proper “Tone” in preaching).
Just about my first memories of the term “neutral” was that it had to do with placing the gear shift on the Model “A” Ford in a position where you could release the clutch when the motor was running (we called them motors – not engines, as in “Ford Motor Company”). When you were in “neutral”, there was no movement of the car – it was just a “do nothing” position. You also had to remember, when parking your car on an incline, that it would surely roll backward or forward if you left the gear shift in “neutral”. Neutral simply meant that you were not in gear – you had no influence whatever on the motion of the car!
I am seriously afraid that a lot of our brethren today are determined to operate in “neutral”! They don’t want to make any distinction between a false teacher and a sound teacher. They don’t want to take a position on fellowship which would make a distinction between darkness and light, between truth and error, or between sinfulness and righteousness – they simply want to smile and stay “neutral”. For years we have been trying to tell them that neutral (no position) is an open stand for the Devil – but they simply smile and go about their merry way being perfectly satisfied with staying in “neutral” – not really standing for anything and not really standing against anything! These brethren are about as useless to the cause of Christ as a Model “A” crank is to a new Ford automobile!
Continue reading » The Motor is Running, But Brethren Are In Neutral
The above title appears on an article written by Gary Ogden and published on July 16, 2000 in THE PLANT CITY PLANTER, the regular bulletin of the church in Plant City, Florida. I am deeply concerned with both the tone of this article and with what I consider to be the tremendous danger it poses to those who would keep an open and receptive heart to search the scriptures daily with a noble heart (Acts 17: 11). I will reproduce brother Ogden¹s article in its entirety and then my response to it will follow. It is my desire that brother Ogden and the elders at Plant City will carefully read both of them with an open and receptive heart and with a sincere determination to believe and teach only that which God has revealed in His Word. I can assure you that such is my only desire.
Internet — Boon or Bane?
by Gary Ogden
“And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear…” (Mark 4:24). “Take care what you listen to” (NASB.) “Consider carefully what you hear,” (NIV).
“Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18, KJV). “Therefore take care how you listen;” (NASB). “Therefore consider carefully how you listen” (NIV). Continue reading » Response to: Internet — Boon or Bane?
In the late summer of 1958, I moved from Lutz, Florida to accept the work with the Husson Avenue church of Christ in Palatka, Florida. I was twenty-three years of age, married, and had a year old son. Our daughter was born while we lived in Palatka. I had been preaching regularly for four years prior to this move. This was a time when the institutional and sponsoring church division was on the front burner, and I was greatly involved in learning and preaching the truth on those issues. As I reflect back, I had also been taught the truth on marriage, divorce, and remarriage since I was a child, and had clearly taught my convictions on that subject in my preaching. I owe more, than could ever be paid, to my mother and grandfather, B.W. Shropshire, of Robert Lee, Texas. They are now deceased, but I greatly treasure the respect for God’s Word which they passed on to me, and which I am diligently trying to pass on to my children, grandchildren, and any others who will let me speak with them about the gospel of Christ. Continue reading » MDR: Introduction to the Palatka, FL Meeting (1958)