Don’t Accept Generic Brands

Companies spend thousands of dollars advertising their brand. It seems to have become a necessity although most of the “brand names” are easily recognizable. But with the introduction of “generic” brands the manufactures want to be sure people are aware of “the real thing.” These generic brands are like their name brand counterparts, but you don’t generally see or hear the generics advertised. The greatest appeal of generic brands is that they do not cost as much. While the generics may be like the name brand, they are not identical, and the careful consumer can distinguish easily between “the real thing” and the imitations.

If we take the principle, the same could be said in the religious world. There is the “real thing” and the “generic.” While on the surface they look the same, a close examination shows the differences.

The Real Thing

After being arrested for healing a lame man and preaching the gospel, Peter and John were asked on trial before the Jewish council, “…By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” (Acts 4:7). Peter had already answered this question at least twice before they were arrested. To the lame man at the gate of the temple he had said, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” (Acts 3:6). Later, when they were preaching on Solomon’s porch, Peter had proclaimed, “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know” (Acts 3:16). So, when the Sanhedrin asked, “By what name,” the answer had already been given, but Peter was not ashamed to announce it again—“let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.” (Acts 4:10). Notice that Peter did not offer some generic response of a power or name that was like “the real thing.” He didn’t point to some imitation that was close.

Conclusion

Then, Peter concluded his remarks with this definitive statement, “For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In that one affirmation of divine truth, the Scripture condemns all religious groups, “churches” and doctrines that do not conform to the name, authority and pattern of Christ.

Would you trust your soul’s salvation to some imitation or generic brand? Or is Christ your only authority?

May a Creed Be Considered Expedient?

In the struggle for independence, our forefathers pledged “life, fortune and sacred honor.” They did so as an expedient way to bring about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This lead to a country founded on freedom never before known. We treasure these freedoms that brave men and women died to obtain. But long before this nation came into existence, Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free…if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36). There can never be real political freedom without spiritual freedom, and Jesus knew it. The really strange thing, to this writer, is that some people, having been set free, unaware of what they are doing, go back into slavery.

“…therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). Some of the Christians in Galatia were trying to go back to the law of Moses, from which the death of Jesus had set them free (Gal. 3:19-29). By going back to the old law, they were cutting themselves off from Christ and His blessings: “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). I would feel very confident in stating that leaving Christ was not their intent, but that, in effect, was the result. Christ promised them freedom, but they, by going back to the old law, refused it.

Religious Division Looks For Expedient Way Out

Rom 6:18 tells us, Jesus came that we might be “freed from sin.” He did this by His death onCreeds are supposed to be expedient the cross (Rom. 5:6-10). Jesus not only makes us free from the guilt of past sins; He also makes us free from the practice of sin as we follow His will. That is why Paul wrote, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom 8:1-2). But there is another freedom that was important to Jesus, and it should be important to us also. That is the freedom from man’s creeds.

At the time Jesus lived, Jewish religion was divided into “sects” (what we would call denominations today). There was the sect of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, the Essenes and probably others. Each of these had their own particular beliefs, which were different from the others. For example, the Sadducees did not believe in spirits, neither angels nor the resurrection from the dead (Acts 23:8). In order to record all their conclusions and have them available to help others follow what they believed, Jewish scribes put their beliefs into what they called “The Talmud.” It contained much of the Old Testament scripture along with commentary of the learned lawyers (doctors of the law) (Lk. 5:17). It all seemed very innocent. They believed certain things, so they wrote them down. On the surface, that seems simple and harmless enough. But it became a disaster.

An Expedient Way?

The Jews were always looking for a reason to discredit Jesus because of what He taught. On one occasion they observed His disciples eating with “unwashed (impure, NASV) hands” (Mark 7:2). They criticized Jesus by saying, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” (Mark 7:5). The law didn’t require a Jew to wash his hands before eating. But their “creed” did. Regardless of their reasoning, they were legislating where God had not.

Jesus response came from the prophet Isaiah. “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men” (Mark 7:6-8). Was there anything wrong with washing their hands before eating? Of course not! But there was a great deal wrong with taking what seemed a good idea, and making a law or rule of it, and requiring others to follow it. That is precisely what the Jews were trying to do.

Looking for Unity

I don’t believe there is any question that the Jews, when they made their creed, were sincere in trying to help people understand God’s will, at least in the beginning. But there was an inherent flaw in their reasoning, and in the reasoning of all whom would make a creed today. They seek to place the thoughts and ideas of man on the same level with God’s word. Even if their intentions were good, their explanation of what God meant could not take the place of what God said. In that same sense, every creed of man falls into the same category as that of the Jews. They “make void” the word of God.

In the late 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, there began a movement in this country among people in many different denominations to find a basis for unity. The conclusion; the principle thing separating believers in Christ were the creeds written by men. Each denomination had its own, different from the creeds of the others. Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell, John Smith, Walter Scott and dozens of other men like them, felt it was necessary to “go back to the Bible.” Some of these, in their zeal to explain their new beliefs, put them into creeds! Fortunately, they quickly saw the error of that and determined the Bible alone would govern them. The decision was made that no man-made set of rules, or creed, would be allowed.

We fail to learn from the past, and thus we see the same thing happening in churches across the land. What we see is peopleThe End Justifies The Means Is Not Expedient expressing their views as to how worship services should be run or what they believe and expecting those meeting with them to abide by these “creeds.” However, the concept that the end justifies the means is a concept most people operate under. As with the past creeds, it is done with the assumption that doing it this way is an expedient. While, as with past creeds, the things these creeds contain may not, in and of themselves be wrong. But, it is a problem of making law where God has not.

Let us look at what determines a thing to be expedient

In order for a thing to be expedient it must be lawful.

The apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6:12). Later on in the same letter he says, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify” (1 Cor 10:23). In these passages Paul teaches expediency must come within the realm of that which is lawful. If something is not within the scope of that which is authorized; if there is no precept, approved example, or logical conclusion in the scripture to authorize the practice, it has no Divine authority.

For a thing to be expedient it cannot be specified.

When God specifies there is no choice but to obey or disobey. In matters specified, faith demands obedience. Expediency in human wisdom involves the right of choice within the realm of those things included in what God has authorized. To go beyond that which is specified or offer a substitute is to add to what God has said instead of aiding obedience to His word.

For a thing to be expedient, it must edify.

Paul understood this (1 Cor 10:23-33; 14:26 ). If something is a matter of choice or expediency (human wisdom or judgment) and its practice would tear down and destroy what God would have built up by creating disunity, dissension and division in the body of Christ, it is sinful and wrong. If God commands it, we must  do it no matter what the consequences. But if it is non-essential (God having left the choice to human wisdom) and we demand or enforce that which destroys the peace and unity of God’s children, we sin. All of the seeming good we might accomplish by such a course would not overcome the wrong done by it.

A thing must not offend the conscience of a brother if it is to be expedient.

Paul wrote, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God” (1 Cor 10:32). We are taught to forgo a matter of personal liberty instead of leading a brother to sin. He sins by violating his conscience in partaking in that which he believes to be wrong (1 Cor. 8:7-13). If a method of doing something in the Lord’s church is a matter of expediency, we cannot force upon the consciences of others those things which our judgment may approve but which are contrary to their understanding and which, appear to them to be wrong or sinful without sinning ourselves.

An addition to God’s word or a substitution for God’s way is not an expedient.

Remember, an expedient must first be lawful. Every addition or substitution is relying upon human wisdom, and as such is unlawful. Such is not a matter of expediency, but is transgression of God’s will. Expediency involves the right of choice within the realm of that which is authorized in the New Testament. It is not a course of authority within itself.

If we apply this test to creeds, regardless of their purpose, we will find they do not pass the test. Therefore let us abandon every creed and simply rely on the Bible for our direction in our service to God.

Editors Note: Some of the information as to establishing expediencies is taken from “Walking By Faith,” by Roy Cogdill.

See Also:

What is Truth

Whose Responsibility is it?

The Danger Of Silence

Paul called the Ephesian elders down to Miletus and gave them some sobering instructions. What were these instructions? “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29,30) Where would the danger originate? From within the flock.

In Peter’s second epistle, he gave a similar warning. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

If we understand these two passages, it should cause us to see the danger of false teaching. Sadly, many congregations of the Lord’s church wait too long before taking action. Error takes hold. How could it be prevented? “These were more fair-minder than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Also read John 4:1.

Church members need to be concerned and to listen to what they are being taught! If more brethren were more serious about this, the church would be much sounder. Why aren’t we learning from the lessons of the past? Remember Pergamos. What did the Lord have against her? “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus, you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:14,15)

This church tolerated false teachers and the error they taught! Instead of opposing the false teaching, they allowed it to take root and spread throughout the church. Simply put, they compromised truth. Why did they remain silent? We do not know. What reason could any church have for allowing error to take root? Following are a few I’ve heard.

• “We don’t want to hurt feelings.” Should we have more concern for the souls of the listeners, and of the false teacher, or for their feelings.
• “We need to be longsuffering.” Certainly, no one denies the need to be longsuffering. But how longsuffering should we be when souls are at stake? Read Galatians 2:3.
• “We cannot all agree on any point of truth.” During the past few years, this has been the cry of some of our brethren. Can we no longe understand truth? ***

Bob Dodson

Raccoon John Smith on Baptism

John “Raccoon” Smith was a (pioneer) gospel preacher from Wayne County, Kentucky, near Albany. He was completely converted to Christ and to the idea of restoring religion to nothing more than one finds in the New Testament. He was ardent in opposing the practice of baptizing infants. He had a practice of digging steps down to the water’s edge at the place where he immersed those who desired to obey the gospel. A Methodist preacher happened to be in the crowd on a particular day when Smith was baptizing people. Smith learned of his presence and came up out of the water and forcibly took the Methodist preacher by the arms and led him toward the water. The Methodist preacher strongly protested. “What, in the name of sense, are you doing Sir!” “Why, I intend on baptizing you, Sir”, Smith replied. “But I do not want to be baptized by you, Sir.” Smith responded, “You believe in the Lord, do you not?” “Of course, I do.” Then, come along, Sir. Believers must be baptized. ” “But it is against my will. I do not want to be immersed. It will be of no value at all. Please let me go,” the reluctant preacher begged. At this point, Smith held his victim firmly and with a voice loud enough for the entire crowd to hear said, “Did you not, this very last Sunday, baptize a helpless baby against its will, although it shrank from your touch and kicked against your baptism? Did you get its consent first, Sir?” With a powerful grip he pulled the preacher closer to the water’s edge. The preacher’s protests grew more frantic until at last, Smith released the poor man. Smith then said, “You think, Sir, that it is all right to baptize others by violence when you have the physical power to do it; but, when you yourself are made to be the unwilling subject, you say it is wrong and will do no good. You may go for the present. But, (addressing the audience) brethren and friends, let me know if he ever again baptizes others without their full consent; for you yourselves have heard him declare that such a baptism cannot possibly do any good.

Taken from a book titled: Life of Elder John Smith