"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.VII Pg.13,16b
February 1944

The Brand - Does Make Any Difference?

Allen E. Johnson

Some time ago, I was introduced to a lady by a mutual friend. Our friend added that I was the minister of the church of Christ. The lady said quickly, "Well, I don't think it makes any difference what we are religiously. The Lord is not going to turn us all over and look at the brands." I replied that I didn't think he would have to as he already knew all the brands.

This lady, along with most religious folks who cling to that doctrine, know only too well the doctrine for which the church of Christ stands. They understand that the church will not accept doctrines that are not in harmony with the word of God.

But will the Lord "look at the brands?" When I was a boy on my father's ranch we always branded and marked our calves with our brand, which gave due notice of owner ship to all others who might have cattle, that these calves were ours. But what about "branding" in religious matters? People are perfectly willing to be "branded" Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Nazarenes, Catholics, etc., with all of the various "branding irons" that men have figured out. Some religious "brands" are mighty fantastic when compared to the "brand" the Lord made in the long ago. The inspired writer Luke gave the "brand" with which all true children of God should be "branded." "And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." (Acts 11:26).

It is the practice in the cow country for every owner to brand his own stuff. The Lord has evidently placed a "brand" on every child of his. "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." (2 Tim, 2:19).

Changing from cattle to sheep, we have this: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." (Jno. 10:14).

Now to use the figure of the old cow country. Where the range was open to everybody, cattle ranged far and near. Once or twice a year the cowmen sent out a wagon and a bunch of cow hands to round up and brand all of the unbranded stuff. As a rule they branded the calf with the brand of the mother it followed. This kept things straight. But occasionally some escaped the boys and the result was, some "mavericks." Now, we either belong to the Lord or to the devil, with now and then a "maverick." Now up at the judgment, I have an idea that the Lord is "going to look the brands over." "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. 7:21-23). "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a Shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left." (Matt. 25:3133). This looks mighty like the Lord is going to "look them over." We are all "branded" unless there are some "mavericks," and the devil is likely to get the "mavericks" unless they "flee for refuge" to the Lord's camp and let him put the name Christian on them. (Acts 2:47).

But there is something else about this "branding" business in the New Testament--while we are on the subject.

"Brethren, be ye followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things)" (Phil. 3:17-19). Therefore the brethren are to do some "riding" and "marking" for the Lord. Paul had the right "brand" and we are to measure everyone by the "brand" he gave. Those who mind earthly things are to be "cut out" and "marked." What are some of these earthly things that brand a man as unfit for the company of God's people? Let the apostle Paul tell us. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21).

Now we know that there are many brethren and not a few sisters who are guilty of "reveling, and such like," when they "trip the light fantastic," engage in petting parties, and other practices unbecoming God's children; and I know a few brethren who have been guilty of the sin of drunkenness; and any or all of these sins will keep a man from inheriting the kingdom of God in the sweet by and by. Every Christian is to "mark" such violators of the truth and try to get them to change their ways by every means placed at their disposal by the Lord. But judging from what I read in the papers, there are some editors, although they would cast up their eyes in "holy horror" at some brother who is guilty of some of the above mentioned sins, yet they insist on practicing heresy by organizing and Promoting the "Committee For Conscientious Objectors" so they can "wipe out the stigma" attaching to the church because (in their opinion) some misguided young men got themselves in a C. O. camp run by secretarians. And, another thing, while we are on the subject of editors, Paul told the young preacher Titus to "shew sound speech that cannot be condemned." (Titus 2:8). And again to the Colossians Paul said: "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Col. 4:6); and again, "And that ye study to be quiet, and do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you." (I Thess. 4:11). I commend the reading of these passages especially to Jimmie Lovell and his West Coast Christian. Jimmie should be, and likely is, "marked" by all true Christians who "fear God and love the brotherhood." (I Pet. 2:17). About the wildest thing Jimmie has put out to come under my observation, appeared in his December issue. He says, under the caption, "Feed The Hungry," I just read of the heifer' project of the Church of the Brethren. Members contribute heifers-10, 000 of them--to that church and as the Allies enter one of the over-run countries, the Brethren follow with their milk cows while we stay at home, drinking our own milk--Christ murderers!!" So, because the church of Christ does not send 10,000 heifers to Europe, they are guilty of murdering the Christ! At first, I thought I had not read it correctly, but after several readings, it still read the same. Thinking that to be about the limit to be reached for wildness in an editor, I was again brought face to face with this: "Maybe it would be best to forget all such dangerous ideas of feeding the hungry and remain at home as we have been doing, holy, serving God by doing nothing--leaving Christianity in the hands of the Catholic, Mennonites, and others. O Lord, what mob in all the earth ever nailed him tighter to the cross than we?"

Now there you have it--twice in the same article--the first under double emphasis--that because the church does not feed the world, it is guilty of murdering its Head.

But that is not all. In the same issue on page three; Jimmie says: "The Mormon Church in Utah has canned over--50, 000,000 cans of foodstuffs for the hungry during the past summer which is more than the' church has canned since Columbus discovered America and we ask God to help others to see our good works. God have mercy upon us." As a matter of keeping the record straight, I'd like for Jimmie to tell us just how many cans of foodstuffs the church has canned since Columbus discovered America. In order to make his point mean anything, it seems to me, he would have to know that. But in all of this he has thrown bouquets at the Catholics, church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Mormons, and has blasphemed the "church which is his body." I recommend that he "join" those apostate bodies where he can send thousands of heifers, shiploads of food, to the "over-run" countries, and set up a huge canning factory for hungry Mormons. It seems that our friend Jimmie thinks that the way to a man's spiritual heart is through his stomach.

But the "marking" goes further than that. Paul told the Romans, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have learned; and avoid them. For they are such as serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Rom. 16:17, 18). We are plainly commanded to "mark them that cause divisions contrary to the doctrine" we learned from Paul. The lady I was introduced to felt the force of this "marking." All who teach doctrines that cause divisions feel the force of the "marking" being done by true gospel preachers, editors, and churches throughout the land.

Those who wear the "brands" of men upon them--that of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, the pope, or any other human name, and teaching things "contrary to the doctrine" found in the New Testament, are to be "avoided;" that is, "have no fellowship" with them, but "rather reprove them." (Eph. 5:11).

Another group that should be "marked" by all true Christians is that to be found in the church who are continually crying about the "so-called elders" in the congregations. They claim that the "so-called elders" will not let them work, have no vision, etc. The elders are not bothering them in any way if they really want to labor in the vineyards and do it in a Scriptural way; but the trouble lies with those who are doing the howling--they want to run the church and the elders are opposing their ambitious schemes, as they should and have perfect right to do. This rebellion against the elders is "Korahism," and should be carefully avoided by all who respect God and his authority in matters religious.

So the obvious thing to do is to get in the "corral" of the group divinely appointed to do the "marking"--the faithful church of our Lord Jesus Christ--follow faithfully the teaching delivered to it by its Head, and all will be well.