Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 6, 1952
NUMBER 27, PAGE 8-9b

What The Church Of Christ Has To Contribute

Austin Siburt, Jackson, Mississippi

(Editor's Note: Last spring, the Christian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, conducted a series of meetings on the general theme "What Each Church Has To Contribute To Worldwide Christianity," seeking to promote fellowship among the various denominations. Brother Austin Siburt, preacher for the Central Church of Christ, was asked to speak on "What the Church of Christ Has To Contribute To Worldwide Christianity." In this issue and the two to follow we present his talk in full. It will serve to emphasize what the Guardian has been contending for: that a gospel preacher has the right to speak anywhere, to any group, on any occasion if he speaks the truth needed on that occasion! We commend Brother Siburt's careful presentation of the gospel of Christ.)

The members of the Central Church of Christ and I wish, first of all, to express our genuine appreciation for this invitation extended to us in speaking on the main theme conducted in your vesper services. Not only do we sincerely appreciate the invitation given, but the spirit and the tone of it in that it grants to all of us the privilege and the right to speak our convictions on this theme.

I would like to say for the benefit of the members of the First Christian Church that two of my great grandfathers were First Christian Church preachers. My father served for years as an elder in the First Christian Church in McMechen and Moundsville, West Virginia. My mother played the organ and was the pianist, and likewise in the Christian Church, sister and I sang in the choir when we were at home. Certainly, therefore, you give me the benefit of the doubt when I say that what I preach at this particular hour is preached by one that has sat where you now sit, but yet by one that would do you no harm, but do you all the good that he can.

Not only do I call your attention to Eph. 4:1-7, but in the language of the Great Commission Jesus Christ stated,

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Mark puts it thus in Mark 16:15,16: "Go ye therefore and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that disbelieveth shall be condemned." From Luke 24:46,47: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to arise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

What more fitting texts could one choose to speak on this all-significant and important theme, "What the Church of Christ Has to Contribute to Worldwide Christianity," than these texts that have been read in your hearing?

May I say, my friends, that we are passing through an era when, above all things, we are a people that need to be possessed with strong convictions. Some months ago, T heard Cedric Foster, news analyst for the Mutual Broadcasting System, make the following statement in substance: "The first two world wars were fought between great political powers, but World War III will be fought between the powers of religion." And then Mr. Foster continued to express his great fear because of the tragic division that we have in the religious reaIm, even in our own country, and how, therefore the forces of God Almighty ought to be united rather than divided into some 250 and 300 different sects; how that in unity there is strength, but in division there is bound to be weakness.

Again, some months ago, a noted news analyst from Dallas, Texas, in reviewing a book dealing with Communism, made a statement that I wish all could grasp. Said she, "The American people are passing through an era in which anyone who dares to believe that anything is right as opposed to everything incompatible with that which he believes to be right, or opposing that, in other words, that the other entertains to be the right thing, that kind of person is labeled as being narrow-minded." And then she proceeded to make the application that that very thought was the thing giving fertility to the seeds of Communism as being sown in the hearts of the American people. The application would be that anybody who is a true-blooded American of necessity must be narrow-minded is that he opposes anything that is contrary to the Constitution of the United States of America, and only loyal Americanism can be made a part of our thinking. Everything else has to be excluded in the light of American principles. That noted news analyst was striking at the very root of religious division, and one of the outstanding points that I wish to emphasize in this address on "What the Church of Christ Has To Contribute To Worldwide Christianity."

In speaking on this great significant theme of the distinctive things that we have to contribute to worldwide Christianity, I would say that, in the first place, we are not even united on the meaning of Christianity. There is the modern definition of Christianity, and then there is the Biblical definition. Today the average person that walks the streets of Jackson, Mississippi, and the various cities throughout America would tell you without hesitancy that that person that recognizes Jesus Christ is a Christian. But let me tell you, kindly and frankly, that Christianity means that which is right in the light of the New Testament as given by the authority of Jesus Christ and as executed by the inspired apostles that served in the execution of that Great Commission, and it is opposed to everything that isn't compatible therewith.

Now that brings me to something that we need to dwell upon just very briefly, and then into the main part of the lesson on "What the Church of Christ Has To Contribute To Worldwide Christianity." If you noted carefully the statements that were read in your hearing, you have already grasped the fact that the Great Commission is universal in its application. I like that word, "world," or "worldwide!' The Great Commission is the very core of the thing that has made up the theme in these vesper services. "Go ye therefore, and teach all, nations, baptizing them" — nations in the plural number." In Luke 24:48,47, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, repentance and remission of sins were to be proclaimed in His name, or by His authority, among all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. That means, then, that in the name of Jesus Christ, or Christianity, the tripod was placed in the city of Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Don't you see, my friends, that everything prior thereto has to be excluded, for actually there wasn't such a thing as repentance preached in the name of Jesus Christ prior to Acts 2. Repentance was preached to the Jew, but not by the authority of Christ. Baptism was preached, but not in the name of Jesus Christ. There then, is a definite distinction to he made between Christianity that originated in Acts 2, as far as the execution of the Great Commission is concerned, and Judaism that ended when Christ died upon the cross. And then again, there is a difference not only between Christianity and Judaism, but a great difference between Christianity and Catholicism, Protestantism, heathenism, and everything that is contrary to, or incompatible with, the religion of the Son of God.

Actually, to speak accurately on the theme of, "What the Church of Christ Has To Contribute To Worldwide Christianity," we are talking about the religion of Jesus Christ to the exclusion of everything else. We are referring to the authority of the Son of God to the exclusion of all other authority. We are speaking about the New Testament era, the Great Commission being executed during this time after the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and closing when the Holy Spirit, wrote finis, with the document Revelation completing the New Testament scriptures. Anything that originates in the minds of men from that time is too late, and anything before the religion of Jesus Christ is too soon, so we confine our study in the lesson of the evening to the authority of Jesus Christ expressed in the giving of the Great Commission.

Let me say to you in substance that the church of Christ doesn't have anything to contribute to worldwide Christianity that Christ and the apostles have not already contributed. Anything in addition to this inspired contribution is too much: anything less than that is too little. If it is not just like the Bible, why have it? No substitutions, subtractions, or additions can be made, for, after all, the God of heaven, in dealing with mortal man throughout the ages, has always been narrow — narrow in that He has limited man in the doing of those things specified to the exclusion of everything else. (Continued next week)