Study the Word: Bulletin Articles
Supply and Demand
We all know that this title relates to the offering of a product to the consumer. For example, if there is a huge demand for a certain tool, then a company will do what they can to supply that need. On the flip side, if there is very little interest, there would be no need to supply that need. This is why businesses come and go. Those that survive have found a product that continues to be in the demand.
So, just how do we get excited in spreading the gospel, when Jesus Himself stated that there won’t be much of a demand for it (Matt. 7:13-14)? The answer is simple. Even though many people don’t want the truth, there is a huge need because everyone needs it (Mk. 16:15). Unlike any business today, people can live without whatever new invention comes along. However, everyone NEEDS the gospel whether they believe it or not.
The danger comes when you lose sight of what people need in favor of what people want. Let’s face it, if someone knew that lots of people wanted a product that isn’t available, they would do what they can to make it. Sadly, in the religious realm, you have those who have decided to preach what people want rather than what they need. This is exactly what Timothy was warned not to do (II Tim. 4:2-5).
There is a reason why there are so many religious groups today, and why more and more churches of Christ have drifted away from the pattern in God’s word, it’s called supply and demand. People have lost sight of what man really needs. This should not surprise us. We see it in that way people are raising their children. Kids are getting anything they want, because it is easier to let them decide what’s best for them. How sad that is!
This reminds me of the mindset of Israel of old when everyone did right in his or her own eyes (Judges 21:25). Mankind would do well to remember the words of Jeremiah when he stated, “It’s not within man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jer. 10:23). Yet, that’s exactly what you see in the religious realm. People starting their own sects, creating their own doctrines; designing “better” and more appealing worship. This may supply the demand, but our God demands we stop supplying their wants!
Paul admonished Timothy with these words, “remain in Ephesus that you charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” (I Tim. 1L3). Why Paul? Those teachers are having some “good” results. That’s just the problem, people think that any sort of success is God approved. It’s as if the Lord is interested more in quantity than quality. That is simply not the case. If anything, it is the opposite. Oh, yes, our Lord is not willing that any perish (II Pet. 3:9), but that desire of wanting everyone saved doesn’t mean He will overlook sin.
The interest in the quality is taught over and over in scripture. When it comes to worship, it is to be done in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24). The doctrine taught must ONLY be the doctrine of Christ (II Jn. 9). There is also no better church that the one Jesus built with His own blood (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28; Rom. 16:16). It simply doesn’t matter to the Lord if His people are the few. After all, the Lord is not there to please man, it is man that must please the Lord (Heb. 11:6). Take note that pleasing self doesn’t necessarily mean it is pleasing to the Lord.
Looking at things from the Lord’s standpoint in examining supply and demand, saints should be motivated to do all they can. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few (Matt. 9:37). This is why we find the Christians in the early church, when persecuted, went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4). Was there a large demand for the gospel? Yes, even if people didn’t want it. The key thing is that there are people looking for the truth and that is a demand that needs to be supplied. Are you doing what you can to supply that need? For people to find what they seek (Matt. 7:7), there needs to be children of God there pointing the way to Christ.
If you go up to any religious person that belongs to a denomination, and ask them who started the church they belong to, chances are they will say, “The Lord, of course!” The problem is, other than the church that Jesus purchased with His own blood (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28), all other religious sects were started by somebody or body of people. You can google the follow information to verify it, but her is a short list of religious groups when they started and who started them.
The Baptist church – started in 1607 by John Smyth.
The church of England – started in 1534 by Henry VIII.
The Jehovah Witnesses – started in 1874 by Charles Russell.
The Lutheran church – started in 1530 by Martin Luther.
The Mennonite church – started in 1525 by a group of folks.
The Methodist church – started in 1729 by John Wesley.
The Christian Science – started in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy.
The Christian church – started in 1859 by a group of folks.
The Free-will Baptist – started 1780 by Benjamin Randall.
The Assembly of God – started in 1914 by Roger Williams.
The Presbyterian church – started in 1535 by John Calvin.
The Holiness church – started in 1907 by Howard Hoople.
The Mormon church – started in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr.
The Nazarene church – started in 1895 by P.F. Bresee.
The Church of God – started in 1880 by D.S. Warner.
The Pentecostal Holiness – started in 1898 by a group.
The Plymouth brethren – started in 1829 by a group.
The Salvation Army – started in 1865 by William Booth.
The Seventh-Day Adventist – started in 1846 by Ellen G. White.
The Unitarians – started in 16th Century, by Faustus, Scoinus.
The Quakers – started in 16:50 by George Fox.
(Chart information copied).
The church you read about in the Bible was not a denomination, if wasn’t in part – it was complete. It was prophesied about by Isaiah (Isa. 2:2-3). This was fulfilled when Jesus Christ came and died on the cross. Prior to His death, the kingdom to come, was proclaimed (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 6:10; etc.).
After Christ died and resurrected, the church/kingdom was now present (Acts 2:47; Col. 1:13). This church belongs to Christ of which He is the only head (Eph. 1:22-23). This makes sense since not only is He the builder, but He has all the authority (Matt. 28:18). It is wrong on so many levels to have religious groups claiming to be Christ’s church, when they have been started by some man built upon doctrines from man. Whereas the Lord’s church abides solely in His doctrine (II Jn. 9). Logic tells you, if all those religious sects belong to Christ then they were all started by Christ and teach the same things. But we know that’s not the case.
The church is not a franchise
In last week’s bulletin, we discussed the subject of church funds and examined what you can and cannot use these funds for. What we need to discuss further is the relationship between churches. After all, some religious groups are organized like a fast food franchise. In other words, you might own a local McDonalds, but as a franchise you send money to the corporate head to cover licensing costs, advertising, etc.
Churches of our Lord that you read about in the bible are not franchises. They did not send money to a centralized organization in charge of erecting church buildings, advertising, placing preachers, printing teaching material, etc. Instead, the local churches are self-governing and autonomous. With Christ being the head of the church (Col. 1:18), every local congregation takes care of its own business.
To be clear, God recognizes no universal church of Christ “organization”. There is no pattern or authority for this in the Bible. The New Testament contains no faithful religious organization larger than the local church. Consider why seven letters were written to seven different churches of Christ in Asia (Rev. 2-3). There was no “head church” to filter a message through. Instead, a letter was written to each independent church.
Of course, this system of organization is very different from most denominations today. Most groups have an earthly headquarters, appoint people to various centralized leadership positions and devise their own bylaws for the organization. These rules are enforced, and those who do not abide by them might be ousted.
As for the Lord’s church as described in the New Testament, a local group that wanders away from following Christ will not have a direct impact on any other church that is His. Why? They take care of their own business and have Christ as their head. A local church may stray, but this will not drag down the “universal” church belonging to Christ. Contrast this with the denominational model described earlier. If the “head church” strays from Christ, then the entire organization will stray (and because they are using a non-Biblical organization model, they are already straying).
Because the churches of Christ are independent, each local group decides what they can afford to do – TV programs, radio shows, paying for a preacher full time, owning a building to meet within, etc. These are all local decisions – no other church of Christ can interfere with the decision-making.
This does not mean that local churches have nothing to do with each other. In New Testament times, brethren had fellowship with one another. Paul visited many churches and even sent greetings from churches (Rom. 16:16). While Christians are encouraged to visit and worship with faithful congregations when travelling, they do not have a right to interfere with their affairs.
If two local, independent churches are both faithfully following the head – Christ – there should be no doctrinal differences. This makes sense because to abide in Christ’s doctrine of Christ means we are right with our God (II John 9). If you visit a place that teaches different things than where you have been going, that means they do not have the same doctrine. One group might be right while the other is wrong, or they might both wrong. If they differ on doctrinal matters, though, they both cannot be right (I Cor. 1:10)!
As you seek for the truth (Matt. 7:7), keep in mind that the denominational/franchise concept many religious groups use today is not found in the Bible. Instead, there is the church Jesus built (Matt. 16:16; Acts 20:28). Make sure you seek that one.
You cannot be a faithful Christian without repenting
“Christian” is one of those terms used so loosely today that we have people claiming to faithful Christians when they are anything but. This is not new. There were individuals in Sardis that called themselves something they were not (Rev. 3:1). The fact is, one cannot be a Christian and walk in sin. Repent means “to turn away from”. To help make things perfectly clear, a person is not a faithful Christian if they do any of these things:
- Marry someone unlawfully (Matt. 14:4; 5:32; 19:9).
- Are a female preacher (I Cor. 14:34-35; I Tim. 2:11-12).
- Are a member of a man-made religious organization – i.e., a denomination (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; Rom. 16:16).
- Wear a special title as a religious leader (Matt. 23:7-10; I Cor. 1:12-13; Acts 10:25-26).
- Refuse to belong to a local church that is Christ’s (I Pet. 5:1-2; I Cor. 11:17-18; Acts 9:26).
- Try to follow the gospel and, at the same time, follow the law of Moses (Gal. 5:1-4; Heb. 8:7-8; 9:16-17).
- Worship God based on what they like rather than seeing what God has authorized/instructed (John 4:24; Matt. 15:1-9; Col. 3:17).
- Conform to the world via immodest dress, corrupt speech and sexual immorality (I Tim. 2:9; Eph. 5:4; Gal. 5:19).
- Keep returning to the passing pleasures of sin with drugs, gambling, drinking and the like (I Cor. 9:27; I Pet. 4:3; Gal. 5:21).
- Go through life trying to serve two masters (Matt. 6:24; I John 2:15-16).
- Put their earthly family ahead of the Lord (Matt. 10:37; 6:33).
- Serve as an elder in a church when not married or not meeting other qualifications (I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
- Claim to love the Lord yet hate their brother (I John 4:7-8, 20).
- Get married but refused to leave their father and mother (Matt. 19:4-6; Eph. 5:22-33).
- Act kindly toward some people but have prejudices toward others (Gal. 2:11-13; Gal. 3:27-28).
- One who has accepted the world’s standard for entertainment when it ungodly (Rom. 12:1-2).
Many people are fooling themselves by saying they are Christians when they do not live Christ-like lives (I Pet. 2:21). Christians may sin from time to time, but they are required to repent (I John 1:8-10). Remember, repenting means “to turn away from”. We all need to think about that.