Resolutions from the Last Will and Testament

Mutual forbearance

On June 28, 1804, Barton W. Stone (1772-1844) and five other men signed the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery. This document was one of the most significant of the Restoration Movement. It expressed a desire to dissolve their recently-formed body (the Springfield Presbytery) as they recognized that all such denominational bodies and creeds were inherently divisive. The Last Will and Testament also encouraged the members of other such bodies to do the same and unite together simply upon the teachings of the Bible.

“We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one Body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.”

“We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose; for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.”

“Finally, we will that all our sister bodies read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and prepare for death before it is too late.”

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The Importance of Numbers

Church Attendance Board

This is a follow-up to the previous article about things that are more important than numbers. There are certainly things we must not sacrifice for the sake of larger numbers; however, we should not overreact and think that smaller numbers are inherently good. Large or small numbers could be good or bad, depending on the circumstances.

We need to remember that numbers represent people – those who have been made in the image of God and those who He wants to save. With that in mind, let us consider some points in view of the previous article.Continue Reading

Understanding Romans 14

Argument

Romans 14 teaches the need to accept and not judge those with whom we differ on matters of opinion. Some have tried to expand the scope of this chapter to include matters of faith. However, we are not to tolerate departures from the faith (cf. Jude 3; Galatians 1:6-9; 2:3-5). Yet on matters of opinion, we need to be sure we understand and apply what Paul wrote in this chapter.

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:1-6).

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The Problem with Division

Division

The first of many problems that Paul addressed in his first letter to Corinth was that of division. There were factions that had developed within the church as the brethren became loyal to different teachers (1 Corinthians 1:12). Paul appealed for them to have unity. He did so by explaining what the problem is with division.

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Let us consider what Paul taught in the passage above.Continue Reading

Freedom and Slavery

Man, in his natural state as created by God, is free – free in speech, thought, action, association, and religion (though this does not mean that we are unaccountable for how we use our freedom – Ecclesiastes 11:9). But Satan, from the beginning, has worked diligently to bring man into bondage.

Why would Satan be concerned about and hostile toward man’s freedom? It is because the lack of freedom – which is the state of bondage or tyranny – hinders one from serving God and having a relationship with Him. Let us notice some ways in which man may become enslaved.
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Dealing with Threats to Unity within a Local Church

Recently I’ve preached  a few lessons about things that threaten unity within a local church. The outlines have been posted on my other site – DIY Sermon Outlines. Below is a list with links to the various lessons in that series.
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Fellowship Questions and MDR

Marriage, divorce and remarriage (MDR) has been and always will be a source of controversy among God’s people. Some have taught that those who have divorced and remarried prior to becoming a Christian can remain in their current relationship after obeying the gospel. Recently there has been controversy over whether or not one who has been put away by his/her mate for just any cause can put away his/her spouse for fornication and remarry. There are other MDR questions, but recently I have seen these two lumped together and placed in the category of Romans 14.

Whenever questions like these arise, it is important for us to determine whether or not a certain disagreement relating to MDR ought to be a test of fellowship. Can we agree to disagree? Or must there be division? There are times for both. In matters of opinion, we must agree to disagree. In matters of the faith, we must not tolerate sin and error.Continue Reading