G.H.P. Showalter, Sr.
It is a time when these memorable words of Paul to Timothy are strictly in order for every gospel preacher. Moreover, it is decidedly opportune that all congregations of the body of Christ demand of those who preach that they faithfully preach the word of God. There was never a time when the Word of Truth was needed more, and my observation leads me to conclude that the possibilities of accomplishing results for the cause of Christ were never brighter.
The Christianity of denominationalism is at a low ebb. The best elements in all the churches have become weary of the studied efforts of their respective “pastors” to fence off their sect from cordial relations with “the other denominations” when they can not point out, if their lives depended on it, any essential difference in their faith and practice that would affect the salvation of the soul.
Indeed, they candidly admit that the things that divide them are non-essential, that they are immaterial and irrelevant, that “there are good and bad in all the churches,” and that a man may “belong” to the church of his choice and serve God in any of them, and at last go home to glory, irrespective of the peculiarities of his faith, or the road he has travelled. Indeed, they tell us that all the roads lead alike to the grand union depot of God’s love and favor. They tell us that the things that divide the people up into multiple factions, sects and parties are not matters that affect salvation, and yet they seek to perpetuate these differences and to divide what they think to be the elect of God.
Sectarianism is wrong from every consideration of reason, consistency and the law of God. Every church, the existence of which is not essential to the life and happiness of men and women is superfluous and should cease to exist.
The church of Christ is an institution in which there is salvation. There is some reason for its existence. There is some reason in being a member of an institution for which the Savior shed his blood. He loved the church of God and gave his life for it.
There is no indication in the New Testament that there is salvation for any part of the human race outside this church. Christ is the founder and its great head and ruler. There is no hint in all the New Testament that it is, or ever will be, necessary for people to belong to any other church in order to be saved. No wonder they talk about “church salvation” and ridicule the idea of belonging to “a church” in order to be saved.
They have in mind sectarian parties, and these are a confessed failure so far as salvation is concerned. Among all the proud theologians that glory in denominationalism and boast of their great churches, not one can be found that will even claim his church is necessary—that anybody must belong to it in order to be saved. There is no distinctive tenet of any of the sects that must be believed in order that men may be saved.
Ask the Baptist if it is necessary to be a Baptist in order to be saved, and he will tell you “no.” Is it necessary to belong to the Baptist Church in order to be saved? They themselves say “no.” Is it necessary to believe the peculiar doctrines of the Baptists to be saved? They tell us “no.” It is not necessary to believe their doctrine or belong to their church in order to be saved. Then where is the excuse for the existence of the Baptist church? A thing not necessary to salvation or to life and godliness is a fruitful source of contention, discord and strife. Away with such an institution from the earth. What can it be for, anyhow? Is it a sort of social affair where people may have a good time?
Take the Methodists. Do they fare better under the scrutiny of logic, common sense and the Bible? Nay, verily. They tell us we. need not be Methodists to be saved, or to belong to the Methodist Church; that we can be saved just as well outside the Methodist Church as in it. Surely, then, this is not the church that Christ built. “And the Lord added to them day by day those that were being saved.” The saved entered the church as they were being saved. As many as were saved were members of the body of Christ, the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth.
But this cannot be said of any other institution on the face of the earth. Then let us magnify the church of Christ, which he purchased with his own blood. To be a Christian only is all that is needful. This puts me into Christ—into the church redeemed by the blood of the everlasting covenant.