Vol.IX No.IV Pg.7
June 1972

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Please list those things that make a sound church. K.C.


This is really a request for a human Creed, a Confession of Faith, a sectarian standard by which "we" (the "sound ones" of course) can readily identify "our" kind. I do not believe the querest is aware of this---but that is all the more reason for using the question.

At best, a "Creed" is what the writer believes God's word teaches. I believe God's word teaches certain things, and I want you to believe it teaches these things (this is common to all Bible teachers---even to those who believe it teaches "different things to different people") but each person must answer to God, not to his fellow man. (Rom. 14:4-5,12)

Each generation has its own problems and points of emphasis. I could list some of the "issues" of our day, and tell you what I believe God says on these maters; but one might find a church that taught and practiced each of these things as I believe it should, and still be "unsound" before God---for two reasons (1) Any list, short of the complete revelation of God's will, is incomplete. (2) My judgement as to what is right and wrong is fallible, subject to error.

Institutionalism, a "social" or "this world" emphasis, misconceptions re. the Holy Spirit's function, and a "party" or denominational concept of the church are major "issues" now. But these are no more important than a lack of holiness among "members," or our failure to work diligently for the salvation of souls in all the world. There is no stopping place short of the ideal perfection toward which we are constantly to press.

Every sect has its list of "those things that make a sound church." The variety in these "lists" (written or just "understood") makes the difference in the sects. Even "accept and fellowship all differences" is just another human philosophy, based on a perverted and unbiblical concept of love. It denies the authority of God.

Any error in which we persist, to which we hold regardless of God's word, for which we brook no scriptural rebuke or admonition, is enough to mark us as "unsound." There can be no "whole, healthy" (see Vine) saints or churches in the absence of a humble, submissive attitude toward God; respecting His will and "striving together for the faith of the gospel." (Phil. 1:27-f) A good appetite for the right food is a sign of health, and a sound church "hungers and thirsts after righteousness" accepting straight Bible preaching (Matt. 5:6; 2 Tim. 4:) It is not without reason, therefore, that scriptural elders and strong preaching mark a sound church. However, even here some may "hang on" who do not support, encourage or practice such preaching---and trouble is in the making.

In the final analysis, particular doctrines and practices identify as "sound" or "unsound" because they reveal our love, faith, and submission to God in Christ---or the lack of it.