Articles – The Church


Any attempt to change the arrangement God has given for the accomplishing of His will must be challenged. Human institutions built and maintained for the purpose of supplementing the pattern God has given for the organization, work, and worship of the church are not permitted. We have no right to change the work of the church anymore than we have a right to change the revelation of God’s will concerning that work (Gal. 1:6-9). Can the work God has given His people to do be carried out without any kind of centralized oversight? Although the following excerpt was written over fifty years ago, it still states well the basic problems faced in the matter of institutionalism.

Does a congregation have the right to assume more than it call do? Since brethren have begun to establish institutions they have vacillated between one plan and another of operation neither of which the scriptures give hint. lf the Lord had intended that His work be done on a bigger scale than call be handled by the local church He would have designed a bigger organization. (The Gospel Guardian, p. 32, March-April 1936. The Problem of Organized Cooperation, by O.C. Lambert).

The church was planned, built, and continues to be guided by the wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10-11. We must take heed how we build as we respect the pattern God has given (1 Cor. 3:10-11; Heb. 8:1-5). The church can accomplish its mission in the way God has prescribed.

The only organizational structure revealed in the New Testament is the local church. “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Phil. 1:1). Each local congregation with its own elders, deacons, and members functions autonomously in accomplishing the work God authorized. Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23). Elders exercise oversight only within the parameters of the local congregation (1 Pet. 5:1-4) as they honor the Head. Constant appeals for a “sponsoring church” to oversee the work of an evangelist or a church in the “mission field” must overlook the fact that there is no authority for such. Often the sponsoring church takes the oversight of a work somewhere but has no intention of putting any of its own monies into that particular work and then there is the constant appeal for funds to do a work that it cannot do itself!   ~  Randy Harshbarger


Churches in the New Testament fulfilled their mission of preaching the gospel within the framework of the local church. It was only a matter of some thirty years from the giving of the Great Commission that Paul was able to say: “If so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister” (Col. 1:23; Mk. 16:15-16). New Testament Christians taught the word of God and supported evangelists in their work (Acts 8:4; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 9:1-18; Phil. 4:14-16).  In special emergencies we find that a church (es) helped other churches.  Prompted by the famine in the land the disciples in Antioch sent aid to their brethren in Judaea. They chose their own messengers and sent the relief to the elders of the churches in Judaea (Acts 11:27-30). The text does not say that the elders in Jerusalem became the overseeing board for the disbursing of these funds! Churches in Macedonia and Achaia followed the same pattern as they collected funds, chose their own messengers, and sent relief to the poor saints in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25-28; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9). These churches worked con-currently; they did the same work at the same time independently of each other. The need was real but it was also temporary. The church in Jerusalem did not receive the funds for the further promotion of some brotherhood project; no church received and sent at the same time. In regard to evangelism, churches cooperated in evangelism. Some of our liberal brethren do not like the term liberal. Just so, none of my acquaintance are anti-cooperation. Again, concurrent cooperation takes place as each local church according to its ability sends directly to the preacher in the field (Phil. 1:3-5; 4:14-16; 2 Cor.11:8).

No one denies the need to do more in spreading the gospel; evangelism is an integral part of the mission of God (1 Tim. 3:15). The building up of the members must not be overlooked (Eph. 4:16). The physical needs of the members must be and should be met as the situation calls for such action (Acts 6:1-7). The monstrosity of Roman Catholicism grew out of a perversion of the simple organization of the local congregation. Paul warned about the possibility of this corruption in Acts 20:28-32. Brotherhood works create a big church-small church mentality as the work of the elders is expanded beyond the flock “among you”. God’s arrangement of local churches doing their own work under the oversight of elders is a guard against such apostasy. Where do elders have authority to oversee the work of any other flock?   ~  Randy Harshbarger


“The organization of the New Testament church is simple, not complex.  It is the local church with elders, deacons, and members.  No other organization is known in the New Testament.  The local church with elders and deacons is a complete and perfect organization through which to do everything God has commanded the church as such to do.  It, therefore, follows that any organization larger than or smaller than the local church, designed to do the work of the church, is an infringement upon the divine arrangement and is unscriptural.  The truth of this principle is so evident as not to require proof to one who is familiar with New Testament teaching.” (Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Gospel Advocate, May 13, 1931).

The church of Jesus Christ is a divine institution with a divine purpose, A failure to respect this fact introduces human wisdom and authority into the work of the church, thus perverting the mission the Lord has given to His people. It was and is God’s plan that men might be gathered together in one body, the church; the existence of the church is the result of the wisdom and planning of God (Eph. 3:8-10).  At one time but only for a time did God’s wisdom remain a mystery (Eph. 3:9).  In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4), the revelation of the mystery was made known; the plan from all eternity culminated in God’s Son coming to this earth, gathering all to Him who seek only the divine way.

Just as the beauty and strength of a great building exhibits the wisdom of the architect, the church of Jesus Christ evidences in its nature and existence the wisdom of God who planned it. Ephesians 3:10 says: “to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly (places) might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God ” God gave Noah a pattern for building the ark (Gen. 6). He also gave strict instructions for the building of the tabernacle (Ex.25).  When ancient Israel departed from the divine way, their apostasy brought spiritual ruin (Acts 7:37-42).  This pattern principle is applied to the church.  The church was foreshadowed by the building of the tabernacle (Heb.  8:1-5); whatever the Lord ”pitches” men must be satisfied with.  Attempts to improve upon the wisdom of the ages brings man in direct conflict with the Lord.   ~  Randy Harshbarger


The church was built by Christ and is in harmony with God’s purposes and plans (Matt. 16:18). The church is ruled by divine authority (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:18-23).  Whatever the church is and does, Christ must have willed it.  The only sure foundation is Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:20).

God has given a divine plan for accomplishing His purposes. In Ephesians 4: 11 Paul said, “And he gave some (to be) apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” The work of revelation was accomplished by the apostles and prophets (Acts 1:15-22; 2 Cor. 5:20; Acts 11:27-30; Eph. 2:20); their influence continues, in that we have the result of their completed work today as a perfect and complete guide. Jude 3 tells us: “Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you for our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto-the saints” (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3).  Evangelists in the New Testament traveled about preaching the word but sometimes they stayed in one area for a period of time (1 Tim.1:3; 2 Tim.4:2-5).  Pastors were those mature godly men, who after meeting the qualifications of God (1 Tim.3), took the oversight of local congregations watching after the sheep (hence, shepherds but also known as elders and overseers).  As “all truth” was being revealed teachers were needed; some teachers obviously had miraculous knowledge (Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 12:28-29).  Why did Christ give these gifts unto men? Ephesians 4:12 says “For the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering unto the building up of the body of Christ.”  Men need to be equipped spiritually to serve and minister; every Christian must be involved as the body is strengthened and increases, both spiritually and numerically. We are striving for a mature faith in Christ. “Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”(Eph.4:13).

Institutionalism perverts and thwarts the very purpose and plan God reveals in His word for the church. Christianity seeks the reformation of man from within, not from without (1 Cor. 7:20-22). The Lord never intended a social gospel or a social religion.  While many New Testament Christians fail in respect to hospitality and providing wholesome entertainment for their children, it still remains the fact that the home not the church is to be the center of social activity (1 Cor. 11:20-22). Fellowship halls, fellowship banquets, etc., are simply diversions away from the true intent and nature of the Lord’s church. Likewise, regardless of the good accomplished, carnal appeals are merely symptoms of a much deeper problem, namely, a failure to understand and properly appreciate the true mission of the church of Christ.

The church is not a business in business to make money. It is not a courtroom nor is its function domestic relationships. Certainly the gospel answers the needs of man but many a church (and preacher) has gotten sidetracked by attempting to be a professional counseling center for divided homes and the people in them. Secular business is not the business of the church. While civil government is ordained by the Lord (Rom. 13: 1-7), political issues do not belong in the church.  No one has the right to prostitute the energy, strength, zeal, or resources of the church.  Let the church be faithful to the divine mission as purposed by God from all eternity. Let the church be the church and let God have all the glory.   ~  Randy Harshbarger


If the church of the Lord is sufficient to accomplish what the Lord intends for it to do, then no other organization or arrangement is permitted or needed.  The church is adequate for accomplishing God’s will as expressed through inspiration.  The efforts of men to improve upon God’s ways always fail.  God still knows what is best and we must yield to His direction (Jer. 10:23; Isa. 55:8-9).

Men sometimes confuse the work of the church with the work God has given to the Christian as an individual.  It is true that the Christian functions in various capacities in the ordained institutions of God (i.e., civil government, the home, the church). But, a failure to recognize the distinctions of each creates confusion and often leads to a perverting of the mission of the church.

The Christian must be in subjection to the higher powers (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). The Christian is a person who will obey the laws of the country in which he lives.  The family relationship is an important one; to fail as fathers, mothers, children, etc., means that we are not faithfully serving God as we should (Eph. 5:22ff; 1 Tim. 5:8).  The church is a spiritual relationship (1 Pet. 2:5), and the Christian often acts in concert with others who sustain the same relationship to the Lord. To be a Christian means that one will be a better servant of civil government, a better family member, a better neighbor, etc.  The outgrowth of being a Christian is that in each relationship he strives to honor God and upholds principles of truth at all times.

We must remember though, that just because the Christian acts in different capacities, it does not mean that the church and the home are the same, any more than the church and civil government are the same, or that the home and government are equal.  Paul clearly distinguishes between the church and the home when he said: “What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and put them to shame that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I praise you not … If any man is hungry, let him eat at home; that your coming together be not unto judgment. And the rest will I set in order whensoever I come.”(1 Cor. 11:22,34).  A Christian could campaign for his favorite political candidate but that is not the church doing it.  A Christian can own and operate a business but that is not the church doing the same.  Parents have obligations to care for their children, physically and spiritually.  Wisdom teaches us that wholesome entertainment with other Christians encourages and cements good relationships among our young people. That does not mean that the church has authority to provide gyms, trips to Six Flags, ski trips to Colorado, etc., for the young people. There is no more authority or obligation for the church to engage in the recreation business than for the church to enter the political arena or launch out into some business enterprise.   ~  Randy Harshbarger


A local congregation is a group of Christians in a given area that have banded together to accomplish the work God gave the church to do (Phil. 1: 1). These Christians act together, collectively in seeking to accomplish the work the Lord gave the church to do. Christians share equally in the responsibility of doing what the Lord said to do. “From whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love“(Eph. 4:16). This does not mean the church has authority to do everything the individual may do. The word “church” is a collective noun (cf. herd, flock). One member is not the body (1 Cor. 12:12,14) and one stone is not the entire building (1 Pet. 2:5). A distinction exists in the New Testament between individual action and church action (Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 11:22ff). This principle is clearly demonstrated from a study of 1 Timothy 5.

Notice some things the individual can do (must do) that the church cannot. Children or grandchildren must show piety toward their own family, taking care of them or requiting them (v.4). A man must provide for his own household (v.8). Verse 16 says “If any woman that believeth hath widows, let her relieve them, and let not the church be burdened (KJV charged) that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.” Paul told Timothy not to lay hands hastily on any man and to use a little wine for health reasons (vv.22-23). Yet, the church was to discharge its collective duty in taking care of certain widows who met the qualifications given (vv.9-10). Younger widows did not fall into this category (v.11). The church was to be charged with the care of certain people (v.16).

Does the Christian have a responsibility toward those in need?  Yes!  Any man who needs your help is your neighbor and you have an obligation to help him (Luke 10:25-37). The Christian must engage in honest labor that he might provide for his own and then for others as opportunity presents itself (Eph. 4:28; 1 Jn. 3:17). The Christian has a duty toward those of his own family (1 Tim. 5:4,8,16). If he could not do what these verses teach, how could the church keep from being charged with the care of those people? James 1:27 says: “Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. ” Do we have authority to build prisons, hospitals, orphans and widows homes in order to discharge the duties of this passage (cf. Matt. 25:31-46) or are we simply to help as need be manifesting concern for others? As the Christian has opportunity (Gal 6:10), he will help as the needs arise, assisting saint and sinner alike.

As Christians we have many collective and individual responsibilities.  May we be faithful to the Lord in every relationship given to us.  As individuals we cannot shirk our responsibilities and turn them over to the church. Let the church be the church and do its work; let each of us do our work, all to the glory of God and in respect for His eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:11-12).  ~  Randy Harshbarger


In Paul’s great treatise on the church, we are told that the church of our Lord is a reflection of divine wisdom (Eph. 3:10). While men denigrate the Lord’s church, we must still recognize the significance of the church in God’s eternal plan for man’s salvation. Yes, we need to understand that Christ is our Savior. We need to understand that the church of Christ refers to that saved relationship made possible by Christ’s death on the cross. At the same time, we need to appreciate the fact that when we obey Christ’s will, He adds us to His spiritual body (Acts 2:47). We don’t join the church. Rather, we are the church. We need to properly define and understand what we mean by the phrase “church membership,” but when we do so, we can say that “church membership” is important. It is important to be in Christ and Christ collates His people together in His church (Eph. 1:3; 5:23).

In Ephesians 5:32, Paul says: “This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church.” The word mystery refers not to something that is deep, dark, and mysterious, or to something that cannot be understood. The word mystery denotes a scheme, or strategy, or plan. This helps us understand that the Lord has a plan for our salvation. Men scoff at “a plan of salvation.” We are saved “by the man, not a plan” they say. They need to take that up with the Lord.

Paul spoke to the Romans about the plan (Rom. 16:25). That which is beyond the natural range of man’s comprehension must be made known by divine revelation.  God’s plan for a time was kept secret or had yet to be revealed. Throughout the Old Testament we are given glimpses of that plan in type and prophecy. But, when the time was right, God revealed fully His plan for our salvation (Gal. 4:4).  Paul told the Corinthians about how God’s mind is revealed i.e., by the Spirit of God.  The plan of God for our salvation is not dependent upon what we see, hear, or think. It comes to us from God (1 Cor. 2:9-12).  We can rightly say that God the Father is primary cause of our salvation in that He willed it. Christ is the sacrificial cause in that He purchased our salvation with His death on the cross. The Holy Spirit is the revealing cause of our salvation as He revealed “all truth” concerning this great mystery.

When people say that “the church is not essential” or that “one church is as good as another” or “that good people can be saved without the church,” they are demonstrating either ignorance or prejudice, and possibly both, about God’s will for man’s salvation. Yes, Christ is our Savior. Yet, the church is the fullness of Christ; one cannot have anything in Christ if he is out of Christ’s church (Eph. 1:21-23). Are we thankful for the church, the beautiful bride of Christ? Have you obeyed Christ’s will that you might be free from sin and thus be added to His spiritual family? The Savior bids you come.   ~  Randy Harshbarger


It is helpful and appropriate, that from time to time, we stop to examine and question even the most basic of our beliefs and understandings about the Bible and about our relationship to the Lord. Inspiration tells us that we need to be able to speak intelligently about what we believe and why we believe it. Faith in God, Christ, the church, the Bible, etc., and more, are important elements that relate to the hope we have in our hearts. Faith is a must in order to please God (Reb. 11 :6). Our faith must proceed from God’s word (Rom. 10: 17). That being true, our service to the Lord is based upon faith or conviction emanating from His instructions to us. Our devotion to the Lord becomes a matter of looking to His word, and then embracing the totality of His expressed will for us. We then strive to implement that will in our lives each day.

The church of Christ is built upon the great eternal truth espoused by Peter in Matthew 16: 16. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Any act of senice or devotion to God that does not recognize this fact is of no value or merit before the Lord. Yes, good that is done by someone may be of benefit to mankind or might aid in the betterment of society, but that is a far cry from acknowledging the absolute claim of authority that Christ has as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. The proper foundation for our service to our Creator is ex-pressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians

3: 11. “For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” No building will be stronger than its foundation; and the shifting, changing sandy foundations of men will always bring ruin (Matt. 7:21-27).

An important fact needs to be emphasized at this point. When we speak of the Lord’s church, we are not talking about a denomination among denominations. The church of our Lord existed in the mind of God from all eternity, and as such is perfect in every expression of God’s will (Eph. 3:8-11). The fact that we might in some way denominationalize the Lord’s church is freely granted, but that is not the issue just here. The Lord’s church does exist and can exist in our day and time, but only as we recognize the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. The teachings of men will produce followers of other men. The Lutheran church acknowledges its dependence upon Martin Luther. The Christian Science church looks to Mary Baker Eddy. The Seventh Day Adventist church looks to Ellen G. White. The Mormon church looks to Joseph Smith. Denominations are built upon some particular person and teaching.

The church of Jesus Christ is singular in nature in that it is built exclusively upon the teachings of its Head. Our standing before God is no better than the foundation our faith rests upon. That is why we must continue to recognize Christ as our only authority. Books, creeds, papers (“Brotherhood” so-called and others), schools, et. al., can easily take residence in our hearts, replacing Christ as our Head. If that is our attitude, we are no better than those around us ‘whom we undertake to severely condemn. Wrong is wrong, in and out of the church! Remember, Jesus promised to pluck up every plant not recognized by the heavenly Father (Matt. 15:13)!

Let us build our Lives upon Christ and Him crucified. Only then are we a part of that which cannot be shaken. As children of the King we comprise His spiritual family, the church. May our service to Him never be that of convenience. May our service to Christ always be a matter of conviction. ~ Randy Harshbarger 


The matter of authority is basic, not only to religion, but to everyday concerns of life. For example, when you go to the grocery store and ask for one pound of hamburger meat, you have faith that the scales used by the grocer to weigh the meat are correct.  You recognize that the State of Texas has an Office of Weights and Measurements, and this office has the task of ensuring that the scales used to weigh meat are accurate.  The scales may need to be checked and calibrated from time to time, but you believe you are getting what you paid for.  Now a question for you.  Why do people see the need for correct scales, that is, scales that conform to a standard of authority; but these same folks will say that when it comes to the matter of serving the Lord, it really doesn’t matter what one believes, or that you even need to try to go by the Bible? Why is that?

When we speak of the church of Christ, we speak of people who are in a convenient relationship with Christ, their spiritual head. Men and women are drawn to the Lord through His word.  In turn, these same people are brought together as one, based upon the commonality of the gospel.  Yet, to think that you can be of Christ and His spiritual family presupposed the need for a standard of authority.  In this case, it is the authority of Christ that matters most of all.  Jesus claimed to have all authority; and as our head, His authority is expressed in what He says we are and in how He wants us to respond to Him in our work and worship together (Matt. 28:19; Eph. 1:20-23).

Some of the leading religious people of Jesus’ day questioned Him once about His teaching and activities.  Specifically, they asked Him about the baptism of John – was it authorized by heaven or by men) Matt. 21:25)?  In spite of their bad attitudes for asking, that is not a bad question.  It is basic and fundamental because it focuses our attention on the all-important questions of authority.  If something is of God, then it must be accepted without question.  If it is not of God, then it must be rejected, whether we like it or not.

Jesus Christ is our source of authority.  His will for His people in these last days is expressed through the New Testament (Heb. 1:1-3, John 12:48; 2 John 9).   The source of authority is not the Old Testament.  While all of God’s word is important, the Old Testament does not constitute the basis of authority for New Testament Christianity. Some are confused about this as, as evidenced by appeals to Old Testament scriptures in order to justify such practices as Sabbath day keeping, burning incense in worship, and instrumental music in worship.  The Old Law was a good law in that it did what God wanted it to do, namely, it brought men to the Christ (Gal. 3:23-25). Jesus did not destroy the Law.  He fulfilled it and then nailed it to His cross (Matt. 5:17, Col 2:14)

To make proper use of God’s word we must begin with the understanding the all authority belongs to Deity and to Deity alone.  With this foundation we are then ready to proceed in our efforts to understand and implement God’s word in our lives each day.  Only then are we truly the church that belongs to Christ.  “Let God be found true, but every man a liar…” (Rom. 3:4).  ~   Randy Harshbarger 



It is popular these days to laugh at and ridicule the idea of a Bible pattern. There are those who refer to themselves as New Testament Christians, who repudiate the concept of a pattern concerning our work and service to the Lord. This mind-set is simply a reflection of modem man’s desire to express himself as he sees fit. Man has become his own god; and as such, no one has the right to tell him what he will or will not do regarding his life, or in this case, regarding his service to the Lord. I doubt that many would be so blatant in their expression of this attitude, but the result is the same.

Hermeneutics is a word that refers to the science of Bible interpretation, or simply put, to the rules of Bible study. You don’t have to know about that word in order to go to heaven, but consider the fact that you have been using hermeneutical principles in Bible study for a long time. For example, what do you say when someone asks you: “Why do you folks in the church of Christ partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week?” You refer them to the EXAMPLE of Acts 20:7, don’t you? You believe that the Bible teaches by example (cf. Phil. 3: 17; 4:9). Someone asks: “Why do you take the Lord’s Supper EVERY Lord’s Day?” You answer that it is NECESSARILY IMPLIED from Acts 20:7, that you should engage in this act of worship unto the Lord AS OFTEN AS THERE IS A FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. Likewise, you recognize that there are many DIRECT STATEMENTS that express the Lord’s will for your life. You are engaging in the science of hermeneutics. These simple ways of recognizing how the Bible teaches are not contrived; rather, they simply take into account how the Lord revealed His will to us.

Pattern theology is nothing to be ashamed of. The Lord has consistently delivered a pattern to His people in all ages. His pattern governed Moses and the children of Israel in building the tabernacle (Heb. 8:1-5). The same was true when Solomon built the temple. The same is true in regard to the Lord’s spiritual temple, His church. To deny that there is a binding pattern or norm for God’s people today is to effectively say: Let every man do that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).

In our ongoing quest to simply be Christians, there is the need to continually examine God’s word and the place it occupies in our hearts and lives. Yet, the sufficiency of modem man gets in the way of recognizing the great need to simply listen to the Lord as He speaks through His word. Man’s inflated ego refuses to allow him to listen to anyone or anything but himself. Again, it is a matter of authority. Will we recognize the claim God makes over our lives, or will we turn away trusting solely in self?

Could it be that when we speak about hermeneutics and Bible study and even the matter of authority, we turn something that is simple into something that is hard and seemingly unattainable? For example, the religious lawyer in the story of the Good Samaritan completely missed the point about eternal life. Yet, a most unlikely candidate for spiritual service, a Samaritan, understood his duty and simply went about the business of helping the wounded man. No debate. No questioning. No glance over his shoulder to make sure someone was watching. He simply did what he was supposed to do. We are the church of Christ! If so, the next question is: Will we “Go, and do likewise?”  –  Randy Harshbarger 


Does the church of Christ have a creed? How you answer that question might depend upon your understanding of what the church is. A person’s creed is simply those things that person believes in. Creed comes from the Latin credo and means “I believe.” In this sense, every person has a creed of some kind, because every person has something he believes in. It has been correctly said that if a creed contains more than the Bible it contains too much; if it contains less than the Bible it contains too little; if it contains the same as the Bible it is not needed? Most human creeds as utilized in the denominational world can be traced back to the Nicene Creed, formulated in 325AD. Creeds set forth the tenets of faith peculiar to each denomination. Human creeds are human in nature and are produced by men, not God. Creeds must never be given the same weight of scripture, whether written or unwritten.

Isaiah long ago challenged the apostate children of God to listen to their Creator by saying: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). Man makes the mistake of trying to bring God down to his level. Man makes the mistake of thinking in terms of the seen rather than the unseen. Man makes the mistake of rationalizing his conduct, reaching the conclusion that God will do the same. All of these things, and more, demonstrate man’s failure to listen to God.

Is it possible for those who claim New Testament Christianity to subscribe to a creed of some kind, written or unwritten? Consider the oft-told story about the newly wedded bride, who prepared a delicious dinner of pot roast for her new husband.  After sitting down to eat, the husband observed two pans of roast and asked: “Why do we have two pans of roast?” “I don’t really know. “replied his wife,” But that is the way Mom always prepared pot roast.  A quick call to Mom brought forth the answer. “Mom, I cooked supper just like you always did, and I cut the roast in half, using two pans. But, why did you always use two pans?” “Because the roast was too large for one pan!” Mom answered.

Our worship to God must be in spirit and truth, but singing two songs, having a prayer, and then another song isn’t the only way to conduct that portion of the worship service. It isn’t mandated that each service be closed with prayer. There is nothing in scripture about the amount of time that should be given to each respective element of our worship. Yet, to change the “prescribed order” is to incur the ire of many who are quick to say: “That is wrong … we’ve never don’t it that way before … etc.” You get the point. Am I advocating a change in the way we conduct our services? No! Am I saying that we can easily fall prey to creedal thinking if we are not careful? Yes! Do I believe we should give equal emphasis to HOW we do WHAT we do in our devotion to God? Yes! Don’t be too quick to change something just because it is old, but don’t assume that just because it is old, that it is right.

My friend Brother Elmer Moore has frequently said: “It is just as wrong to make a law, as to break a law.” To that I say AMEN! May we never elevate what we think or what we say above that which is written. We may be using two pans when one will do just as well. Remember, God’s ways are above our ways!  ~  Randy Harshbarger