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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Change agents

Change agents are clamoring for changes in the faith, worship and practice of churches of Christ. The changes they envision are profound and fundamental. Congregations that embrace them will no longer be churches patterned after the New Testament (Heb. 8:5). They would no longer be striving to be Christians only. They will not be churches of Christ such as Paul referred to (Rom. 16:16). Instead, they will become denominational bodies, adrift in a sea of human doctrines, traditions and opinions. When we warn against the change movement, occasionally a well-intentioned brother will respond, "Since we all are imperfect, don't we need to change?" Such answers suggest that we need to specify just what it is that cannot be changed.I. Some Changes Are Needed. The heavenly side of the church is perfect and unchangeable. But the church on earth will always be imperfect because of its human membership. At our best, we are imperfect people. Our work of restoration is task that is never-finished. When we fail to measure up to any aspect of the revealed faith, we need to change. The key is the direction in which we are moving. Beneficial changes are those that draw us into closer conformity with God's divine standard. When in any aspect of our worship, faith or practice we fail short of the divine pattern we need to change! Only when we are observing "all things whatsoever (Christ) commanded" (Matt. 28:20), are we immune from change.II. Some Changes Are Inconsequential. Over the years our congregations have made a multitude of changes that were acceptable because they were in areas that were of no consequence. We changed from plain, simple meeting places on the back streets to fine buildings on main thoroughfares. We changed from hand held fans to air conditioning. We changed from 60 minute sermons to 30 minute lessons. We change from one cup to multiple cups for communion. We have changed our hymnals, our Bible School literature and a hundred other matters. Such changes are harmless because they have nothing to do with the essence of the religion of Christ. We still sing, pray, commune, give and study as the Bible directs, as we always did. These changes are the kind we can take or leave without transgression. Most of these changes are beneficial and should proceed without protest. The only reservation would be, if implementing them should be the occasion of strife in the family of God (I Cor. 8:9-13).III. Some Changes Are Destructive And Forbidden. If the changes proposed would cause us to go contrary to the expressed will of God, they are wrong and must be rejected and opposed. * To change the music of the church from singing which the Holy Spirit has authorized (Eph. 5:19), to making a different kind of music with mechanical instruments is wrong. * To change the day we commune from the first day to another day of the week violates the example of the early Christians who communed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). * A change that would allow women to teach men in the assemblies or classes of the church would violate Paul's inspired restrictions on them (I Cor. 14:33-34 and I Tim. 2:11-12). * To change the message of salvation from faith and obedience to faith alone is wrong for it violates James' statement that faith without works in dead in itself (Jas. 2:26); also the declaration that Christ is the author of salvation to all who obey him (Heb. 5:9) * To alter the doctrine of God's grace and claim that He saves us by grace alone violates God's commands that sinners must obey him to receive the promised blessing. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). The Holy Spirit is given to all them that "obey him" (Acts 5:32). * To change our view of Scripture is sinful. God describes it as a "pattern" for us to follow (II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 8:5). To teach men there is not a pattern is wicked arrogance.* To change people's thinking about the nature of the church is wrong. The church is Christ's body, his bride, his kingdom, his family. It is sacred, singular and unitary. To change it into a denomination is an evil thing. It is to make the sacred secular and profane. Other examples might be cited but these illustrate the point.To beneficial changes that bring us into closer conformity to God's will, we say, Yes! To inconsequential changes we offer no objection! But to changes that lead Christians away from God, that make void the word of God (Matt. 15:9), we not only reject them, we must also object to them with all our strength! We are obligated to contend earnestly for the faith, once delivered (Jude 3). Simply stated, our position is Change? Yes! Apostasy? No! John Waddey**** Permission is granted to duplicate and distribute this and all other of these weekly lessons. * More lessons discussing the various aspects of the change movement can be found at For evangelistic lessons see* If you would like to participate in this project contact the author at


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