The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

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"Christian Only": A Personal Commitment

Dan Petty

The quest for pure, unadulterated Christianity is a worthy challenge. Many brave souls have risked rejection, ostracism -- even death -- to question established forms for the sake of truth. The desire for a purer form of Christianity has led some to pay a heavy price.

The leaders of the Restoration Movement who rejected denominationalism and preached the unity of all believers based on "the Bible and the Bible alone" were first prepared personally to face the challenge. Undenominational Christianity did not come without a price tag.

Nor does it come cheaply in any age. True discipleship has always been costly. The most important quality for would-be disciples is not intelligence, education, or social prestige. Neither is it a unique spiritual insight or moral stamina. Above all, it calls for a personal commitment to Christ that supercedes all else.

To get to the heart of the matter, Jesus emphasizes the unqualified, uncompromising love for Him that is necessary for discipleship by telling us to "hate" mother, father, family -- even our own lives (Luke 14:26-27). It is a matter of comparison, of course, but the degree of personal loyalty that Christ requires cannot be misunderstood. Certainly this loyalty also excludes all other pretenders: all "different gospels" or those who would preach them are divinely anathematized (Gal 1:6-9). Christ is the cornerstone of the church (Eph 1:20), and is jealous of its purity. Personal preparation to plead undenominational Christianity means arming oneself with Truth (Eph 6:14).

It also means removing all hindrances to the task. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will not allow any human relationships to stand in the way (Luke 14:26-27). Even family ties must come second. Religiously speaking, Jesus Christ shares our loyalty with no one. Family relations are dear to us, and praised in God's Book, but our soul's salvation -- and that of our our loved ones -- is the pearl of great price.

We must also remove the hindrances of creedal beliefs or religious traditions which we may have inherited. The teachings of men are vanity in worship (Matt 15:9). In Colossians, where the issue was false teaching, Paul admonished, "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize..." (2:18-23). Don't be robbed of your greatest legacy, your soul's salvation, by something that someone has concocted.

Indeed, do not allow men to stand in the way in any form or fashion. To adhere to any man -- whether apostle or apostate -- is to be, in Paul's words,"carnal" (1 Cor 3:1-4). The same promotes divisions among Christians (1 Cor 1:10-14). Be realistic enough to know that there will always be the problem that "men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:28-30).

Perhaps the greatest hindrance to overcome is self. And the threat is most unexpected, which is the genius of the devil. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor 10:12). Confident assurance in our relationship with the Lord is one thing; closing our eyes to the possibility that we might be wrong is another. A false pride that "we" have all the truth could end up being our downfall. The day we decide we have all the questions answered, and in our satisfaction, are no longer capable of genuine study of where we stand in the light of the gospel, is the day that we are ready to be defeated in the quest for pure Christianity. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" (2 Cor 13:5).