Jesus said, “The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2). Those words were spoken by Jesus not long before His unmerciful crucifixion on the cruel cross of Calvary. (John 19). Perhaps Jesus was also thinking about His impending death at the hands of the wicked Jewish (Acts 2:5, 23) mob in the not too distant future.
“And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Before Ananias the high priest, the Jewish elders, Tertullus, the governor, and Jews (Acts 24:1, 9), Paul answered their false charges, and, among other things, said, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” (Verse 16). Paul described his conscience to Timothy as serving God from his forefathers as being “pure.” (2 Timothy 1:3). It appears that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, and, if so, he told the Hebrew brethren (Subscription or title given and Hebrews 13:12; 3:1), “we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” (Hebrews 13:18). YET!!! Saul consented unto the death of Stephen. (Acts 8:1; 7:54-60). Acts 9:1, 2 says, “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they be men or women, that he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” Paul told King Herod Agrippa II, “I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, which also I did….” (Acts 26:9, 10). He then described the evil he did (Verses 10, 11), thinking that he was doing God service.
Others are described in the New Testament as doing things contrary to the will of God, perhaps thinking that they were right. Matthew 15:7-9 describes some who were worshipping in vain because their worship was after the doctrines and commandments of men. Galatians 1:6-9 pictures others who were troubled by adhering to a false gospel, bringing the punishment of God against them. John wrote to seven churches of Asia, describing most of them as having false doctrines being taught. They were not commended, but were told to repent, to overcome. (Revelation 2; 3).
The present day is no different. Some in the present century kill the bodies, but not the souls (Matthew 10:28) of Christians, because they believe that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Cf. Acts 8:37. Others call the Lord’s people “a cult” without being able to produce any evidence. A few unknowledgeable people refer to churches of Christ as “Campbellites.” However, the churches of Christ existed from A. D. 33 forward. They were so called in Romans 16:16. They existed long before the Campbell’s, Alexander and his son Thomas, were born. The churches of Christ existed in America long before these two men and others began teaching that way. The writer’s paternal grandfather was told by a denominational preacher that to become a member of the church of Christ would be declaring that his good ole daddy and mama went to hell. Some have been told not to discuss the word of God with members of the church of Christ, because “they will confuse you.” On and on and on it goes.
Some believe that they do God service when they honestly, but wrongly, teach things that are contrary to God’s statements. For example, this writer has been told that salvation is by “grace only’, “faith only”, “simply saying the sinner’s prayer”, “Christ’s death on the cross”, “before and without baptism”, and much more. Briefly, if salvation is by “grace only”, faith cannot be involved. If by “faith only”, grace cannot be included. Read Ephesians 2:8-10, and note that salvation is by grace through faith when one does what God has ordained, that is, obey Jesus. (John 3:14-17; Hebrews 5:8, 9). Jesus taught the need to hear (Mark 12:29), believe (John 8:24), repent (Luke 13:3, 5), confess (Matthew 10:32, 33), and be baptized or buried/planted in water (Romans 6:1-5), for the remission of sins, salvation (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:20, 21), to enter Christ (Galatians 3:26, 27), and His church (1 Corinthians 12:13’ Ephesians 1:22, 23), then living faithfully. (Mark 13:13). One cannot do God service teaching contrary to His word.
Many infrequently observe the communion, the greatest feast of which one may partake. It is the remembrance of “the Lord’s death till He come.” (1 Corinthians 11:17-34, especially, verse 26). Jesus instituted this feast to be observed in His kingdom. (Matthew 26:26-29). This great supper of remembrance was done weekly (Acts 20:7), showing that the kingdom which Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16:13-19), was built (Acts 2; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9). In spite of the importance of this solemn feast, most only observe it annually, bi-annually, quarterly or monthly. Oh, how much many miss because their leaders fail them in this communion, remembering weekly what Jesus did for us!!!
Some subtract from God’s will regarding the frequency of observing the Lord’s Supper, but add mechanical instruments of music to His will. The New Testament only speaks of vocal music being used in the church. Cf. Matthew 26:30; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; James 5:13. One may not rightly divide the word (2 Timothy 2:15) if one goes to the Old Testament for acceptance and/or authority; that covenant has been abolished. (2 Corinthians 3; Hebrews 8:6-13; Galatians 5:1-4; Romans 7:1-4). To accept any part of the law of Moses is to accept all of it. What parts of Colossians 2:14-16 could one accept, if one accepted mechanical instruments of music from the same covenant?
Good and worshipful friend, go to the word of God to see what the church of the New Testament was like, and what it should be today. Do not go through life thinking that you are serving God. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25; 14:12).
That principle lasts through the ages. Remember to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” He will direct you in a way that is right and you will correctly please Him. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves….” (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you, like the priests of Acts 6:7, find that you are not pleasing to God, do as they did, become obedient to the faith. You might find that you, like Saul of Tarsus, though zealous, are zealously wrong, and in need of making a significant change. (Acts 7:54-60; 9:1ff; 22:1-16; 26:1-29). If that is the case, save yourselves. (Acts 2:40; Philippians 2:12). Do not allow pride to keep you from doing right and out of heaven. (Proverbs 16:18; James 4:6).