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Author: Ron Graham

True Church

The Danger of Digression
—in the Churches of Christ

Churches of Christ used to take a hard line against "error". They took pains "not to condone" any belief or practice that was "unscriptural". They called out "digression" and stood for "New Testament Christianity".

1 The Faith Once for All Delivered

The churches of Christ were known to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3)

Many congregations do still follow "the New Testament pattern" while others have digressed and now join the denominations in errors of doctrine and practice. They have departed from the original faith once for all delivered in the first century and still valid in the twenty-first century.

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons..." (1Timothy 4:1).

It should be no surprise that digression causes great concern among the churches, causing people to be fighters for the true faith against any "innovation" introduced.

Of course if one takes part in contending for the faith, it is imperative that one knows the faith thoroughly and one is "established in the faith" (Colossians 1:23, 2:7).

2 The Thin End of the Wedge

Occasionally, we hear objection to a certain practice calling it "the thin end of the wedge."

One splits firewood with a steel wedge. The thin end enters the wood easily, making a crack from which the wedge can easily be dislodged. But as one drives the wedge deeper, it becomes firmly entrenched.

The only way to remove the wedge now is to drive it deeper still, until the wood is split assunder. But then the damage is done and the wood is fit for the fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).

The opportunity to stop digression is at its thin end. When digression is at the thick end, it can be impossible to turn people back (Heb 6:4-6).

We express the same idea in another analogy: "Nip it in the bud." A bud is the easiest thing to nip or rub off a plant. You don't wait until it becomes a mighty limb.

3 The Devil’s Opportunity

God's word says, "Avoid every appearance of evil" (1Thessalonians 5:22). It also says, "learn not to go beyond the things which are written [in scripture]" (1Corinthians 4:6-7), and "Do not give the devil a place" (Ephesians 4:27),

These principles apply not only to individual Christians but also to the congregations they belong to. Digression occurs when a congregation introduces into its practice things not authorised by its Founder and Head Jesus Christ.

A true church of Christ is subject to its Head (Ephesians 1:20-23). At the first sign of presumption, at the first instance of going beyond, the congregation is giving ground to the devil. He will not neglect the opportunity to cause digression and division.

To foil the devil and win victory with Christ, we need to be like the Bereans who "received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [being taught] were true" (Acts 17:11).

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