This is the final edition of The EXAMINER! It completes eight years of publishing this paper. That's 48 issues, going out to thousands of people. As far as I know, this is the only paper of its kind and size that has been SENT FREE to all who desired it. At one time, there were as many as 16,000 on the mailing list. We hope that it has been a blessing to each of you. It is with mixed emotions that I now write these closing words. Sometimes, I even question my decision to stop it because I believe, based on the many indications from letters, personal words, and especially the generous financial support from many of you, that it has been of real benefit to many who have read and studied the numerous excellent articles submitted by our writers.
I am especially indebted to the great group of writers who provided such excellent material for our study. I want to express my sincere gratitude to all those who have written the good material. Without your help this paper would have been of far less value and not nearly as effective as it has been. I especially owe a great debt to those who were considered the "regular writers", men like Gaylon Embrey (who has stood with me for many years!), Dusty Owens, C. L. Embrey, Olan Hicks, William "Bill" Baker (Las Vegas), Stanley Paher, Art Thompson, Neal Griffin, Stanley Morris, Steven Clark Goad, Norman Parks, Gene Peacock, James Finley, Terry Gardner, Frances Williams, Nelta Brock, and cartoonist, Bob West. They have been the backbone in providing the material. I am certainly indebted to each one for his or her contribution of material. No doubt all of us have been edified, perhaps even corrected in our understanding of various vital matters in God's teaching. To each and every one, I thank you.
We also thank God for the many other people who have had a part in the success of The EXAMINER. Besides those who have written articles, we thank God for all of you who have read the paper, for those who have contributed financially, those who have sent us church directories, those hundreds who have written to us, (with both good and, sometimes, not so good things to say), and those who have prayed for this work. You have been such an encouragement to us. It's both amazing and humbling for us to have been a part of this work.
At my age, though publishing The EXAMINER has been a real pleasure, I feel the need for relief from this work load. I want to devote some time working on two books I have long wanted to write: l) "THE ECCLESIA OF GOD," and 2) "WITH THE BISHOPS AND DEACONS - SERVANTS." I should have some time for that now. I hope to have these done within two years, (one book per year) and will offer them to you if you would like to have them.
Though this issue brings The EXAMINER to an end, we (Jewel and I) would really love to hear from any and all of you who care to write us about the paper or anything else. Please tell us of the good things going on for the Lord where you are. We are especially concerned with learning where there are house meetings that are open to any and all saints. Many disciples travel over the country now and then, and it would be nice to know where we could stop to meet with the Lord's saints. Please notify us if you meet in homes and if "strangers" would be welcome. Jewel and I hope to do some traveling over the next couple of years. Perhaps we could meet with some of you if you will tell us of your meetings. If those of you who meet in homes will write and give us complete information about such home meetings, we will make a record of all such and send the desired information to any who request it.
Meanwhile, it's important to remember several things. There's no question but that Jesus built (and continues to build) His assembly, congregation, or gathered people. But, He did not build an institution or organization of any sort or kind. His people have no organization, no organizational name and are NOT TO BE MEMBERS of any religious
organization built and maintained by men. They are Christians only, only Christians. Those who are following Jesus constitute His ecclesia. The church, even all the brands of the C of C church, as it exists today was not built by Jesus and membership in it is not required by Him.
Another thing to remember is that GOD'S ELDERS ARE NOT MAN-MADE!
We can't make a man an elder by mere appointment to the so-called "office of an elder." "Elder" is not the name of a church officer or a church office! In truth, there is no such thing in God's word as a "church office" by the name of "Elder". Neither men, nor women, can be made to be "elder" by some human appointment. Men and women either are or they are not older, more knowledgeable, and more experienced than others in the way of the Lord. They either are or they are not elders. Some ritual or appointment by men can't do it. The apostle Paul did not appoint men to be elders; that is, put them into some office known as "elder" or the "eldership" office. There wasn't any such office in Paul's day. Knowledge, age, and spiritual experience is what makes them elders who should shepherd the people of God among them. And they do not have to be officially appointed by some church institution/organization to do this vital work. There wasn't any such thing as a church institution in the days of the apostles! All churches of every brand are from the will and wisdom of men; they are not from God or the Lord Jesus Christ!
In the Old Testament times there were elders and there is no indication whatever that they were ever "made elders" by some kind of appointment to an official office; or, that they were known as officials of any kind.
Also, there were women who were elders (1 Tim. 5:1, 2). They were the older, more experienced and knowledgeable of Godís word. They served as teachers and leaders. Women have far too long been held back from things they are qualified to do in the service of the lord. I have seen a few instances during my many years where men were "appointed" as "elders - church officials" who had to largely depend on their wives for whatever they tried to do as elders. One vital thing we need to recognize is that the church cannot appoint a man to be an elder! One thing is certain: the term "elder" does not refer to some "church official" because neither in the Old Testament times nor in the early New Testament times there was no such thing as a church in existence! Churches of all brands have come from the will and wisdom of men; none of them have come from the teaching of Jesus and His apostles.
In all the letters written by the apostles, there is not even one letter written to the elders, the eldership, or the bishops! In Philippians, Paul wrote "to all the saints ... including the overseers and deacons." Isn't that interesting in view of the Church of Christ practice today? Today, everything is written to the eldership and/or the hired employee, the Pulpit Minister. In fact, today the saints are never addressed by anyone writing to God's people. The people in the pews have almost no voice or vote in anything done by the corporate church. They are kept in the dark. All such actions are handled by the ruling lords, the eldership. The responsibility of the lowly members is covered in two duties: obey and pay!
Also remember that nowhere in the New Testament, not even in Jerusalem, do we read of the equivalent to having a Westside C of C, an Eastside C of C, a Mid-town C of C, or a Sixth and Cherry C of C! Never do you read of a plurality of ecclesias in any city whatever! There was only one ecclesia in a city; and all the disciples in that city constituted that ecclesia! The saints may have, and many did meet in different homes, or other places, but in no instance do we read of a plurality of ecclesias in any city in the days of the apostles. They certainly did NOT have any churches in that day and time.
Paul wrote to "the ecclesia of God which is at Corinth...." There was only one ecclesia in Corinth! They did not have a plurality of ecclesias in any city! Think about that. Why? Paul does speak of a number of ecclesias in a country, where there were ecclesias in the various cities. Never in the days of the apostles was there but one ecclesia in any city. Check it out for yourself.
There is no set time In the Scriptures for observing the Lord's Supper. Sunday, the first day of the week, is not the one and only official, God-required day for the Lord's Supper. If so. where is it taught in Scripture? Jesus and His disciples observed the Lord's Supper on Thursday evening; hence, this is obviously an acceptable time to do so. Surely this is a "divinely-given example" since our Lord and the apostles set this example. The Lord's Supper is not restricted by the Lord or by any Scripture to only a Sunday observance. Saints may observe the Lord's Supper on any day they desire (Acts 20:11 was on Monday) and as often as they please - apparently daily (Acts 2:42, 46) - with the Lord's approval, if done in spirit and in truth.
Where did this practice of praying over the "collection plate" come from? As far as I know, it is a rather recent innovation in the C of C churches. The other denominations have been doing this long before the C of C church decided to follow their example. It certainly is not required by any scripture. Some of the things said in the prayers "over the collection plate" are often foolish. For example: "We are grateful for this opportunity of returning a portion of our income to YOU" - meaning God, of course. Is the "collection" given to God? Is it used for what God wants done? For example, using a large amount of the money to build a recreation building?
Are we, as His saints, really thankful to give "a portion" of our income to the corporate church institution and its rulers, since that is where the money goes? God doesn't get any of it and He obviously doesn't need it.
Everyone knows that the money collected belongs to the man-made corporation called a "church." In most cases, the church officials (elders?) have the total say-so about its use. The contributors, in the majority of cases, have no voice or vote in the use made of the money! In many cases, the elders do not even inform the payees (members) of how the collective money was used. Most of the money goes to pay off the building indebtedness, for building upkeep, and to pay the salaries and other benefits for the hired, professional employees of the church, known as "The Minister" and the "Youth Minister" - a recent appendage to the clergy group! These men are full-fledged clergymen just like all those in the other denominations. All of them are hireling professional preachers. They are hired to preach; hence, a hireling. Our Lord had some strong language for this type of "wolves in sheep's clothing." God's people need to get rid of CHURCHES - human institutions - and the hired professional clergymen. Let the disciples themselves be given a chance to teach and preach. Many, many of them could do a great job and they would not have to be "hired and paid" like the clergy-class of professionals.
Get rid of the church institution - it is NOT FROM GOD and it should be done away with totally. There is no "church" in God's word. Surely if you have studied at all, you should know that King James ordered the word "church" put in Scripture. There is no word in the Greek language that can be properly translated by the word "church." Christians should NOT belong to a church of any kind; all churches are from men. None are from God. There are Bibles out there that do NOT use the word "church" at all. Buy a copy of Hugo McCord's Translation, published by Freed-Hardeman University, or, you might check in the Simple English Bible New Testament, and see how these brothers translated the word ecclesia. There is no church in God's word when correctly translated.
The early saints did not have a "church building" and they did not need such. They did not spend millions of dollars to build a small or a large "church building" as is done by churches in this day. One C of C church in Texas spent more than 8-million dollars on a massive building! What a waste! Christians should not be ashamed that they do not build and own buildings in which to meet. They are not necessary. The early saints met in homes, in caves, in whatever place they could find. Get out your Bible and read about the "house meetings" identified in the New Testament. They had no costly "church building" in which to meet to worship God and encourage one another to love and good works. Such was not needed, they met in their homes. And the growth in discipleship was abundant. Let's get down to the basics of what is vital in being Christians and serving the Lord. May God help us to understand what really counts with God. We must serve and please God, not men!
A denomination is any system of religion that adulterates the teaching of Christ with the commandments and doctrines of men. All religious institutions (churches) fall into this category!
Please remember - Jesus Christ is the answer for each of us here and in the future especially. He must be our Lord and Master without reservation on our part. His will and way we must obey to be pleasing to Him and God our Father.
"... examine all things. Hold fast to that which is Good." May God bless you. - CAH