A Tale Of The Tail-less; The Legend Of The Five Legged Horse
Question: If you call a horse’s tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have? Answer: Four! Why? Because no matter whatever else you might wrongly choose to call a horse’s tail, it’s still a horse’s tail – and will therefore never be a leg – despite anyone’s most earnest desire to have a five-legged horse! This, because God just simply didn’t make them that way! And the same is true in the spiritual realm as well. Please allow me to explain….
Whenever we want an intelligent definition or description of something which we know relatively little about, we usually turn to an authority on the subject – such as a dictionary or an encyclopedia for instance. These resources, although typically quite useful in describing and defining things in the physical realm, are often far less accurate when it comes to the definition or description of spiritual truths, identities, or institutions. As an excellent case in point, please consider for a moment, an excerpt from Merriam Webster’s online dictionary’s definition of marriage: “the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage <same-sex marriage>”
Marriage is an institution created by God in the beginning, and always consisting of one man and one woman, period (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:4-6). Unlike man-made dictionary definitions which ebb and flow with man’s morals and desires, God’s definition is “forever firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm. 119:89 ESV). What Webster now defines in part as “marriage,” God defines – and always has and always will – as “an abomination” (Lev. 18:22, 20:13; see also: Rom. 1:18-32; and Gal. 6:9-10) – no matter what sinful man may prefer to refer to it as…
And so we see, that one can call the “horse’s tail” of homosexuality “an alternative lifestyle,” “same sex marriage,” or anything else they’d like to, but to God it is still an abomination and a sin, and those who call it otherwise won’t have “a leg to stand on” come judgment day (Rev. 21:23-27).
The same is also true when it comes to those who might choose to refer to their congregation by the noble Name, and powerful, biblical designation of ownership, “church of Christ” (Mark 8:38; Acts 4:12, 20:28; Rom. 16:16). But if we would care to know the true, eternal, forever settled in heaven definition or description of exactly what constitutes a congregation of this divine institution (Eph. 3:8-11), then we must once again, look to the Lord’s all-authoritative definition and description – and not merely the man-posted sign out front, on the internet, or in the phonebook.
God’s all-authoritative encyclopedia (the bible), including, defining, and describing the exact specifications and pattern (2 Tim. 1:13) for this divinely-established institution which was in the mind of God before the beginning of time (Eph. 1:4, 3:10-11), is available for all to read, see, and follow, and will not change – ever.
According to that divine definition and description given in scripture, God shows very clearly, that according to His definition, congregations of His Son’s church:
1. Are composed exclusively of those who are sons of God by virtue of their obedient faith; a faith which caused them to obey the gospel and be placed “in Christ,” having repented of their sins and subsequently having been baptized into Christ, specifically FOR the forgiveness of those sins (Gal. 3:26-29; Ro. 6:3-4; Acts 2:38). Therefore, any congregation which counts amongst its members, even one “pious unimmersed” person who has not done so, is not a church of Christ’s – according to God’s definition.
2. “Sing” their praises to God without any sort of instrumental accompaniment whatsoever (http://www.clevelandcoc.com/?page_id=161). And any congregation which utilizes instrumental music in its psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, is not a church of Christ’s – according to God’s definition.
3. Do not have female: elders, preachers, mixed-gender adult bible class teachers, public scripture readers, prayer leaders, songleaders, or actually, females leading in any of their “in the assembly” capacities whatsoever, but instead, remaining silent in those assemblies (with the exception of congregational singing which we’re all commanded to do – Eph. 1:1, 5:19-21; Col. 1:2, 3:16-17) in humble submission to the clear-cut and eternal commandments of God, dating back to the very beginning (1 Cor. 14:33-37; 1 Tim. 2:8-15). And any congregation which utilizes females in these roles – even under the most selfless and sterling-sounding self-justifications, is not a church of Christ’s – according to God’s definition.
4. Have as elders those who will not allow, indulge, or even for a moment consider tolerating the above departures from the faith once delivered for all the saints (Titus 1:5-11; Jude 3). And any congregation which utilizes or installs men as elders who will allow, and/or – God forbid – support such departures from that first-century, divinely-delivered faith, is not a church of Christ’s (nor does it truly have elders/bishops installed, no matter what they may call them) – at least, not according to God’s definition.
Sadly, yea, tragically, there are many congregations of people today who refer to themselves with their signs, websites, and other sources of identity as a “church of Christ,” but who either allow, tolerate, or even support one or more of the above practices never found in the Lord’s one, New Testament, blood-bought church; which prove unequivocally that they are not really “churches of Christ” – not according to God’s definition and description. They can call themselves whatever they’d like, but as a “tail” come judgment day, they won’t have a “leg” to stand on for their self-justified disobedience, and so will fall over forever into the fiery abyss.
And one other thing in conclusion. Perhaps reading this article has offended you. Perhaps the above “tale” hits a little too close to home… or your home congregation. If so, might I suggest one other thing that sincere, biblical congregations of “the churches of Christ” do when they find out they’ve gotten ‘off track?’ Instead of ‘kicking’ back and ‘stalling’ out, they follow the example of the congregation of the church of Christ at Corinth when Paul’s letter made them realize their error. See it for yourself in 2 Cor. 7:8-11.
Question: If you call a local congregation which includes any of the man-made innovations and preferences mentioned above, a “church of Christ,” how many “churches of Christ” does your town have? Answer: One less than you think. Why? Because no matter what you might wrongly choose to call that congregation, it’s still not a church of Christ according to God’s definition! This; despite anyone’s most earnest desire to be a part of a “pious-unimmersed,” “baptismless conversion” fellowship, complete with instrumental accompaniment, female leadership, and an ear-tickling, politically correct, wolves in sheep’s clothing eldership. This, because God just simply didn’t form churches of Christ that way!