PTP2015 – Alan Highers – Hot Button Issues – Erasing the Distinctiveness of the Churches of Christ

Israel wanted a King in Samuel’s day “THAT” they could be like the nations around them.

Romans 12:1-2 – Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed

“Con” = with

“Trans” = across or away from

We are distinctive, we do not have the same outlook or function as the denominations and religions around us.

What reason do we have to exist if we are just another denomination?

There are over 400 major denominations and thousands if you include the independents.

The Bible knows nothing except that there in one body, one faith, one CHURCH.  Ephesians 4.

If we do not have more than one Lord, why would there be more than one church?

Many denominations are the same on essential matters, nearly all teach

  • faith only
  • being a member of their denomination is not required for salvation
  • baptism is not essential for salvation, though methods (sprinkling, pouring, immersion) might be different, it doesn’t matter since they consider it non-essential.

What about the churches of Christ is distinctive?

Where is the church of Christ different from the denominational religious world all around us?

Book, Chapter, and Verse Doctrinal Teaching (PREACH THE WORD).

I have friends that are members of the Methodist church.  I have asked them at times about what their doctrine is on certain matters and they have no idea.  They are one of the denominations that makes little to no emphasis on matters of doctrine.

My growing up years saw a time of bed-sheet charts with 75 passages of Scripture on them and a preacher that would teach the identity of the church, the worship of the church, and many other things.

You could not come and then leave those assemblies without knowing what the preacher taught on those matters.

We preach the Bible, the scheme of redemption, the establishment of the church!

When did you last hear a sermon on the sin of denominationalism?

I remember in my growing up years a number of young people falling away into sin and into the world, but I cannot remember a single young person leaving the church of Christ to join a denomination.  They knew too much! They were too aware of the contradictions of the denominations.

One thing that has been distinctive about the church is that we are different from a denomination in organization.

Churches of Christ really are unique in that we have congregations all over the world and this country and have no over-seeing earthly organization.  Look at this audience at PTP and we may have some differences, but we are fundamentally the same.  We do it without an earthly headquarters.  We do it without a creed.  We do it without some shepherding overseeing counsel or conference to be kept in line.

We are kept in line simply and solely by this book, the Bible.

A denomination has earthly headquarters, a creed, and a sectarian name.

The church in the first century was not a denomination (Acts 2:36-40), neither are we.

I have asked denominational preachers, “of what denomination were those people (in Acts 2) members?”   And almost without fail, even denominational preachers will admit they were not members of any denomination.

If I obey the Gospel as they did, of what denomination am I a member?

We strive only to do what they did, to become what they become.

We have preached the Gospel Plan of Salvation.

It worries me now that even among the members of the church that have lost the focus on what a person must do to be saved.

In nearly every classroom growing up, there was a blackboard at the top which had:
“H  B  R  C  B” and if you cannot tell me what that stands for, then we need to have a discussion.

Be Baptized

Something that is bothering me and is more prevalent than ever before in my lifetime is that we have preachers who are not teaching any false doctrine.  They are not teaching one wit that is incorrect, but they are NOT TEACHING ANYTHING DISTINCTIVE.  They will not preach first principles, they will not teach matters of sound doctrine.

A challenge to elders–write down on a sheet of paper anything being preached from the pulpit in your congregation that couldn’t be preached in a Methodist pulpit!

Instrumental Music

The word of God teaches us to sing, not play.

Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16

If you were to simply make a list of what makes us different would be this matter.

In recent months we have had maybe half a dozen churches that have who have added it into certain ones of their assemblies.  They won’t do it in all assemblies because they know that they will lose membership (or in my opinion–contribution).

We didn’t abandon instrumental music because we don’t like music.  We didn’t fail to use it because we wanted to pick a fight.  There were and are sound, biblical reasons for the practices of the churches of Christ.

I have talked to youth groups about instrumental music.  I have found them to be some of the most receptive audiences I have ever had.  They are interested.  They are looking for help to talk to their friends as to why they don’t use the instrument.  If you give them sound, biblical, bonified answers, they will write them down and learn them and teach them to others.

Many want it and expect it because they have never been taught against it.

The Role of Women

1 Timothy 2:11-12

We are distinctive in that we teach the biblical doctrine that women are not to teach and usurp authority over the men.

Abilene Christian University – About three years ago, they had a female speaker on their lectureship.

Pepperdine University – This year – A woman preacher in a keynote on their lectureship.

Last year, they had a young man speaker who appealed to put women into the pulpits.

A congregation in Nashville has a female preaching intern who is a Bible student at Lipscomb University.


Our plea is, let us go back to the Bible.


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