The Indianapolis Tapes: Ed Powers, 27th Feb 1994

The Indianapolis Tapes: Ed Powers, 27th Feb 1994

                       INTERNATIONAL CHURCHES OF CHRIST                   A/K/A BOSTON CHURCH OF CHRIST MOVEMENT                              AUDIO TAPE TRANSCRIPT   Indianapolis Church of Christ Ed Powers, Evangelist Speaks at Congregational  Meeting 2/27/94   We called this meeting tonight for a very, very important problem.  I want to  be as precise as I can be.  I know that sometimes I have a tendency to be  wordy and I will try not to do that.  I want you to work really, really hard  to stay with me in what I will say tonight.  And I really want you to stay  here until the end of my remarks.  Some of you are going to think that you  know where I am going, but you really don't know where I am going.    In fact,  some of you are probably going to be sure that you know where I am going and  you're going to be very disturbed and very worried.  But I want to assure you  before I talk you don't know where I'm going.  You're going to think you do  but you need to wait to the end to find out what I am proposing and I think  you'll be excited.   In Ephesians 4:1, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus that "I am a prisoner  of the Lord and I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling.  Be  completely humble.  Be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every  effort to keep the unity of the Spirit to the bond of peace.  There is one  body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were  called.  One Lord, one Savior, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is  over all and through all and in all."  Paul calls upon the church in Ephesus  to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of  peace.  He calls upon them, setting forth unity in the church as being of  great importance.  And he goes on, in my opinion, and explains to them the  issues that are basic, fundamental important issues upon which unity must be  demanded.  One body.  One Spirit.  There's only one.  If you don't believe  that, we may have a problem.  One hope.  One Lord.  One faith.  One baptism.   (amen)  One God, the Father of all who is over all, through all and in all.   Now those are basic fundamental things that we can unify on.  No doubt about  that.   For thousands of years, religious groups have divided over issues and over  disagreements which really have very little to do with the things that God  calls us to unity on.  I think it's important for us to understand what  divisiveness is and what divisiveness is not and what causes it.  Some of us  don't have an accurate understanding of what divisiveness is.  We don't have  that accurate understanding because of what we have been taught to believe.  I  want to make some observations here.         1.   Disagreement is not divisive.  (right)  Turn to your Bibles to Acts  15:36.  We find a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.  Then some time  later Paul says to Barnabas "let's go back to visit the brethren in all the  towns in which we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."   Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark.  Paul did not think it wise  to take him because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued  with them to the work.  They had such a sharp dispute that they parted  company.  Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus and Paul chose Silas and  left, committed by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.   He went to Syria  and Cilicia, strengthening the churches."    Paul and Barnabas had disagreements.  But the disagreements did not lead to  divisions in the kingdom of God.  Paul went one direction, Barnabas went the  other direction.    I fully expect when I get to heaven to see Paul and Barnabas.  I expect to  talk to both of them and ask them how their work went after they went in their  respective directions.  I believe that both Paul and Barnabas are going to be  there.  They had a disagreement, and it was sharp.  But their disagreement did  not cause disunity in the kingdom of God.    Sometimes when we hear somebody disagree, especially in an area that seems  very, very sacred to us, we can get all nervous.  We tend to think that's it.   Wait a minute, I think we're being called to divisiveness here.  Look, because  two people don't see eye to eye on things having to do even with the work of  God, it does not mean that it's disunity in my mind.  (that's right)   2.   I want to make a point that criticism is not divisive.  Turn to Acts 11,  where Peter, after being sent by God to the household of Cornelius and went in  and preached to the gentiles and the gentiles were baptized in Christ, Peter  came unto some criticism for his actions.  The apostles and brethren  throughout Judea heard that the gentiles also had received the word of God,  so when Peter went out to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him  and said, "you went in the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them?"   Peter began to explain everything that happened to them precisely as it had  happened.   You go down to verse 18, "when they heard this, they had no further  objections and praised God, praying 'so then, God has granted to the Gentiles  the repentance of life."   These Jews were ( ? ) of Peter going into the house of Gentiles and eating  with them.  They did not hesitate to be critical.  They did not hesitate to  call that to his attention, and yet again, I think it's very telling that  criticism, in itself, was not divisive.  It did not lead to division.    3.   Further, you probably heard that reservations are divisive.  I deny that  reservations in and of themselves are divisive.  Galatians 2:11, we read about  a situation that I believe describes  one brother has some pretty serious  reservations about how the other brother was conducting himself. Look at Gal.  2 beginning with verse 11.  Look what happens here.  "When Peter came to  Antioch, I (Paul) called him to his face, because he was really wrong."  He  reminds me of a leader.  (laughter) You always know when somebody's telling  you off.  "Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the  Gentiles, but when they arrived, he began to draw back, separating himself  from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the  circumcision group.  And the other Jews joined him in hypocrisy, so that by  their hypocrisy, even Barnabas was led astray.  When I saw that they were not  exactly in line with the truth of the gospel, I said "you're a Jew yet you  live like a Gentile among Jews.  How is this, then, that you force Gentiles to  follow Jewish customs?"   I would say that Paul had a few reservations about how Peter was conducting  himself.  There is no indication in scripture that the reservations ended in  any kind of a split or chasm between Peter and Paul.  And it does not indicate  that was the case.  Reservations, in and of themselves, do not cause divisions.   I think it's really important that we understand what does and does not cause  division.   In the religious world, divisions can be caused by creeds.  The word "creed"  means "I believe" or "we believe."  Creed is a statement of what we believe.   Now creeds can be written or unwritten. Some religious groups write down  their creeds.  The Methodists have theirs written down.  It's called the  Discipline.  The Mormons have the book of Mormon.  The Catholics have the  cathecism. Various denominational groups have written down their creeds and  say, "look, this is what we believe.  If  you want to be one of us, then this  is what you must believe."  Many religious groups comb the scriptures,  gleaning what they believe to be important.  And that's okay, so far.  Kind of  read through there and certain things jump out at you as being important and  all that.  But what happens is, as a religious group when we glean the  scriptures and we pull out everything that we believe to be important and  we  necessarily understand at this point, you know the next step is when we say  "now we have the truth.  Now we have discovered what really is important."   And then we go another step and say "we are the only ones who are right.   Unless you agree with us, you cannot go to heaven.  Unless you agree with us,  God is not with you."  Why?  Because we have gone through the scriptures.  We  have decided what is important and we have taken our stand on those things.   Unless you see it like we do, you can't have a relationship with God.  Then  we have overstepped our bounds.  (that's right)  Then we have become divisive.   Whether our creed is written or whether our creed is unwritten, you know?   Some groups write it down.  Some groups don't have it written down, yet we all  know what they are.  We know what we believe.  Every religious group knows  what they believe.  They know what their favorite scriptures are.  I have  often encouraged people to read the sections of the Bible that are not  underlined.  Some of those sections are as important as those they have  underlined.  It's hard to get together, you know.  It's hard for people to get  together on what is really important when it comes to the many and varied  doctrines of the large divisions it has caused by people forming written or  unwritten creeds, which is a statement of what they think is important in  calling everybody else to. That is divisiveness.  That is sectarian.  That  what brings out sects.  That's what brings about denominationalism.  To  denominate means to delineate.  To delineate is to denominate.  A denomination  is a group with a name.  Why do we take a name?  We take a name to distinguish  ourselves from all other groups.  You know, if you look in the Bible, God did  not name the church. He didn't need to.  Because there was only one.  There  was only one.  Everybody who read the gospel, everybody who believed the  gospel was adding to it, whoever they were, wherever they were, they were  added  to God's church universal.  It didn't need a name.  You were at  Ephesus, you were not a Methodist Christian or a Baptist Christian or a Church  of Christ Christian.  If you had obeyed the gospel, God added you to his  church and recognized you as being a member of his church and there was no  need for his church to have a name.   Now we referred to it, we call it the Church of Christ, call it the Church of  God, call it the church of the First Born, we call it the Christian Church.   Somebody says well, I object to that.  Well, it's no difference between the  Christian Church and the Church of Christ.  One means "of Christ" and the  other one means -- it's just phrased a little different way, it means the  same thing.  There's no difference.  And I think it's important for us to  realize that denominationalism is wrong.  And what causes denominationalism is  wrong.   You know, if we look over the years and the religious world and even the  church of Christ, for that matter, has divided over the years on so many  issues it has been unbelievable.  Let me read to you a few issues that the  church of Christ divided over and have gone off and formed new groups.  Over  the taking of oaths -- some people believe that you shouldn't do that.  When  you go into court, you should not say I swear, you should say I affirm.   Certain churches have divided over that.  Serving the military.  Some people  thought it wrong to serve the military.  Others insist it is okay and divided  over that.  Capital punishment, using force to defend oneself or one's  family, political candidates serving as government officials -- you can't use  political activism.  Playing cards, (laughter)  for me, that's kind of  extreme.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The work of the Holy Spirit.   Baptism of the Holy Spirit, praying for healing, how God answers prayers,  translations of the Bible, use of "thee" and "thou" in praying, qualifications  of elders, who selects and appoints elders, -- a lot of stuff about elders --  (laughter) deaconesses, enrolling widows, military, academic titles,  collecting contributions, women worshipping unveiled, using the churches for  secular activities like Boy Scouts meetings, eating in the church building,  use of choirs or choruses, smoking, collecting funds for the United Fund,  Youth Directors, Youth Camps, and so on.  That's just really a handful of the  issues that we have divided over the years.  What causes divisions like that?   Division like that comes when men put their views of their favorite doctrine  and their rules, which God did not make, and then call us to unify under those  doctrines and  rules.   And I watched (    ?   ) have been called in the name of unity.  How I wanted  to go through the Bible and we say "this is what we believe."  Now, everybody  come and believe exactly what I believe or he isn't unified.  How true.  How?   You know, that is why I have the truth.  I know the truth.  I have learned.  I  have it, you don't.  Anybody doesn't measure up to where I am doesn't have  the truth. Anybody who disagrees with me, if you don't understand the Bible  the way I do, then you misunderstand the Bible.  (that's right)    (  .....?.....) it pretty clear or not.  If they weren't (  ?   ), they wouldn't  be important doctrines, would they.  They'd be someone else's important  doctrines.   It's time to realize, folks, that there are many, many doctrines and  teachings and educations and examples in the Bible that there are people out  there who look at the Bible and they have different ones than we do.  You say,  well, they're wrong.  Are they?  Are they wrong on all and we're right on all?   Is that what we're doing?  Is that what it takes to be unified?   You know,  tonight we're going to discuss some issues.  I told you not long  ago I (  ?  ) when I talked.  Times to -- here's what you're going to do, I'm  going to tell you.  You're going to try to  go right ahead of me.  Again, I'm  going to warn you, you're going to think that I'm going somewhere and I'm not.   You're going to know where I'm going before the end of my speech.  You're  going to be divisive in your own thinking.  Cuz you're going to have  experience in some those things I talk about and some of you probably wouldn't  be opposed to getting a lynch mob and lynching somebody that you want to hang.   But I want to encourage you not to run ahead of me  tonight.  I want you to  listen to me and if you know where I'm going, but you don't.  I want you to  stay with me and pray with me about these things.  We can change the church.   I want to talk to you about ridding ourselves of  legalism in this church.    Somebody posed this question the other day:  they said "well, you know, I'd  like to believe that we're really going to do this, but our spirit is really  hardened."  You know, I am still believing it if we're really finished because  we've talked about these things before.  And that probably describes  some of  the comments "yes, that's good. We talked about law, we talked about doing  away with legalism."  But are we really serious about this?  Or is this talk?    And  I want to assure you tonight that we're very serious.  (amen)  We have  studied.  We have put in hours upon hours upon hours of study.  Not just  myself, but other staff members:  Roger, Andy, Brian, many others, have put in  at tremendous amount of study.  We have had numerous discussions. We've made  some decisions about our lives..  In fact, I'm standing up here to tell you  tonight that the staff has made some decisions about our lives.  Decisions  that are going to change our lives forever.  My life is never going to be the  same after tonight.   And in part (  ?   ) that your lives will never be the same after tonight.   Lord knows, some of you need a different life. (amen)  You need a different  life than what you have had.  You say, "I don't know if this -- I just don't  know if it's going to happen."  Well, that's a decision that you're going to  have to make.  There are some things that stand in the way from ridding  ourselves of the legalism that is in the church and has robbed us of our joy.  It has made living a Christian live a burden.  It has made us a poor example  to people who look at us and who observe our lives.  It has made us wonder,  all of us at times, are we going to make it to the end.  Then we hang on.   Some of us fall by the wayside and some of us have looked at ourselves and  said, "am I going to make it."  There are some things that stand in the way.   We're serious.  And you're going to have decide if you are.   Jesus said, "you will know the truth and the truth will make you free."  Let  me say this before we go on any further.  Don't ever be afraid of the truth.   (amen)  I made up my mind a long time ago, then I kind of went back on it.   And now I'm going back and reclaiming it that I made up my mind when I saw the  truth in God's word, I was just going to do it.  (amen)  Whether it was  popular, whether it was unpopular, whether people understand, whether it got  me in trouble, no matter what the consequences, no matter what it cost me.   Too many of us, we look at the Bible and we say, "well, here's what it says,  but I wonder what's going to happen to me if I do it."  And we say, "well,  hmmmm, let's stop and see which way the wind is blowing."  Let's run this  idea up the flag pole and see if people are ready to look.  And if they don't  look, take it down real quick.    Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  I want  to tell you, I haven't really been free for a long time.  I haven't felt free  for a long time.  I have felt free in the last few weeks. I have felt free  because once again I examined the truth and I have made my decision that I  could examine the truth.  (amen)  And that was true whether any of the staff  decided to examine the truth and it was true whether any of you decide to  examine the truth.  It flat doesn't matter to me.  It matters to me for your  sake, but it doesn't matter to me for my sake.  Because I am going to do what  is right.  (amen)  For the truth sets us free.   1.   One of the things that stands in the way of ridding ourselves of  legalism is the fact that rules, and doctrine have been and are being  legislated for us outside of this body.  Let me read it again. Rules and  doctrine have been legislated for us outside of this body.  In 1988(?), we  were approached by the Chicago Church of Christ with proposals of being  reconstructed -- the church in Indianapolis.. It took in the previous four  years to that I felt that the church here  had done pretty well, but I went  along with most of the sheep who were members of the church at that time.  I  was totally open to the church doing even better.  Between 1984 -- I came here  in '84 -- to 1988, the church grew to about 270.  It grew to some 600 today.   I didn't think that was bad, but I was very open and very anxious to perhaps  being better.  Chicago Church proposed that we reconstruct the church.  And,  honestly, I did not know what that meant.   Which means that you did not know  what that meant.  I grew up to Chicago and had a (  ?  ) time.   Spent part of  the time fly fishing.  But a lot of things had changed that  needed to be  changed.  My ...... changed to.  But that's just life.  That's the way life  is.   I was in Chicago for  2-1/2 years and I came back.  When the plea was raised  to reconstruct the church, the plea was at that time unity to relationships  and cooperation.  That's what I was told when I asked about what are the  relationships.  What is the relationship between the church that is going to  be -- the relationship of unity.  I'm in favor of that.  Through relationship  and through cooperation. And guys, I want to say to you that's good.  (yes)   One of the things that has just wreaked havoc in the Kingdom of God is that we  have not worked at being ....      And, frankly, I was very, very excited at  that time to work on  unity through relationships and cooperation.    I want to tell you that in the last several years some things have changed.    We are now under a very rigid system of government.  It resembles the Catholic  church in its organization.  We're in a greater system that is the pyramid  stems from the top with a man at the top with the World Sector Leaders  underneath him and with Pillar Churches under them and with Model Churches  under them.  It is a very organized and very strict and rigid system.  There  are obvious advantages to that.  You know, there are advantages to the  military.  You know, the military can do some awesome things because it is  very organized.  And because it is organized, it can do a lot of things that  it could not do if it were not so organized.   What we have today is not a system of unity through relationship and  cooperation.  What we have today is a system unity through uniformity.   (that's right)  In short, this church is under the direction and the control  of the church in Los Angeles through or by the way of the church in Chicago.   You say, what are you saying?  I'm saying this because I want you to  understand something.  There are many things that go on and have gone on in  this church that really aren't up to us.  Things such as our special missions  contribution.  And there was a time when we had a special missions  contribution because we had the idea we wanted to do it.  We wanted to be  involved in the missions. Today we have a special missions contribution  because we are expected to have a special missions contribution.  The amount  that we give is not an amount that is decided upon by us, by the leaders of  this church or by you, the members.  But it is decided upon by the folks who  oversee us in L.A. This year the amount is $254,000.  That's the amount that  we are responsible for.  I had no input into that.  We weren't asked.  We were  assigned a time period in which it must be given.  And it is expected.    Our giving per members on a weekly basis, the expectation is that we should  give $30 per member. We don't  do that.  We have given about $25 per member.   When you figure in the diversity of this church, the number of teens that we  have, the number of senior citizens and the number of single moms and the  factors that factor in, that's what we give.  And we feel pressure as  leaders.  We feel pressure about that because the expectation is that we  should give $30 a week.    Our attendance is monitored on a weekly basis.  We report on weekly basis by  phone on the attendance of this church.  And we are rated "bad,"  "good,"  "great," or "awesome."  Now I think our attendance has been good lately.  We  are setting attendance records.  We have the highest average attendance that  we ever had last month.  We averaged 1,000   (  ?  ) in attendance.  We had 2  weeks last month when we went over 1100 in attendance.  That was as high as  I've every seen.  The truth is that's finished because of a formula they did  come up with that is applied to us, so we will be "bad," "bad," "bad" on the  stat sheet that we send in each week.    Leaders and members are available to the churches that are over us at their  discretion, not ours. Sometimes we have run into problems because we have  been expected to send some of you places that, frankly, you didn't want to go.   And then it's put up to the (  ?  ) and we talked to you and we talked to  you, we said "you need to go.  You go."  And, you know, sometimes we needed  to convince you to go where maybe you didn't want to go.  And said you were  led by God to go.  And I think that's something for the staff to really repent  because we really pushed sometimes in areas where we shouldn't have.  And  sometimes we pushed harder than we should have in an attempt to meet the  expectations that were placed upon us and the church.    Now stand up here tonight to say now, keep open if you know where I'm going.   Someone already said you're being divisive.  Look, it is not divisive to tell  the truth.  (yes)  We need to decide what to do with this.  That's where it  becomes divisive in my book.   Side 2   Romans 14:  You say, "well, now, who is him whose faith is weak?"  Him whose  faith is weak is usually whoever disagrees with us.  And what is a disputable  matter?  That is a matter that you disagree with the norm.  "One man's faith  allows him to eat everything, but another man whose faith is weak eats only  vegetables."  What we going to do about it?  "The man who eats everything does  not look down on him who does not.  And the man who does not eat everything,  must not condemn the man who does."  Why?  "Because God has accepted him.  Who  are you to judge someone else's servant?"  Let me tell you something, folks.   When you judge your brother, when you judge your sister, when you try to force  more scruples about whatever on your brother or your sister, you are judging  someone else's servant.  He is not your servant.  He is God's servant.  One  thing that we all have in common in this room is that we are not the servants  of one another.  This church does not exist to serve me.  You are not my  servant.  You do not exist to serve your Zone Leaders.  We are here to advise  you and help you and you are not our servants.  You are God's servants. (amen)   When you judge, try to bind scruples on someone, you are judging someone  else's servant, meaning God's.  "To his own master he stands or falls.  And he  will stand."  Why?  "because the Lord is able to make him stand.  One man  considers one day more sacred than others."  What day do you suppose that is?   The Sabbath.  "Another man considers every day alike."  You know, what are we   going to do?  At the leaders meeting we talked about this the other day, what  we're going to do is Andy starts wanting to celebrate the Sabbath, starts  wanting to keep the Sabbath all of a sudden.  He's really convicted and says  "I want to keep the Sabbath."  And I said, "well, Andy, I think that's  ridiculous." Look at what the Bible says.  "Each one -- each -- should be  fully convinced in his own mind..  He who regards one day does so to the Lord.   He who eats meat, eats to the Lord and gives thanks to God.  He who abstains,  does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.  Not one of us lives for himself  and not one dies for himself.  If we live, we live for the Lord.  If we die,  we die for the Lord. Whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord."   (amen)   The Bible calls us to unity through accepting the diversity, even diversity  that has to do with what we believe about scriptural issues.  Now let me make  this point.  I am not talking here about the gospel.  I'm not talking about  the gospel.  I'm not talking about God's plan of salvation here or how you get  in Christ.  We've got to get together on that.  But I'm saying after we get  in Christ, we're going to have all kinds of different opinions about what the  Bible teaches.  The guys over you have taught that unity consists of just  stopping what you really believe about what the Bible teaches, just brushing  it off, just stopping it and saying "I'm just kind of hold on to the party  line here, whatever is (   ?  ), you know.  That's fine."  I did  studies  before with a guy who would study and look over at me when the guy who we were  studying with  would ask a question, he'd look over to me and say, "well, what  do we believe about that, Ed?"  I would say, "what do you mean, what do we  believe about that?"   Chapter 15:5 (Romans)  Look at it.  "May the God who gives endurance and  encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ  Jesus."  I just pulled this in for free.  If you go study out the passages in  the Bible that deal with unity, you will find that almost all those chapters  which deal with unity, deals with unity on one subject.  And the subject is  Christ.  (amen) That's what the Bible calls us to unity on.  Christ.  The big  controversy in the first century church was not only things that we get all  caught up in today, but the controversy was is Christ who he says he was?   That's what the gospel deals with.  That's what men and women are called to  decisions on. The gospel.  Was Christ who he said he was?  Did he do what he  said he did -- look,  that is what the Bible calls us to unity on.    1 Cor. 1:10  They said -- keep your finger in Romans 15, and turn to 1 Cor.  1:10 very quickly.  This is the scripture that is being used over and over to  call to unity on virtually anything and everything that he considers to be  important.  Leaders, myself included, have used this passage to call the  church to unity on whatever we wanted to call to unity on.  But I want you  notice what he's really talking about here.  Verse  10, he said, "I appeal to  you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree  with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may  be perfectly united in mind and thought."  Has this passage ever bothered  you?  No divisions among you?  Perfectly united in mind and thought?  How can  we do that?  How can we be perfectly united in mind and thought?  And I asked  that question once and it was explained to me, "well, the way we do that is we  just all give up our opinions and we adhere to the opinions of our leader or  the person who is over us.  And then we can be perfectly united in mind and  thought."  Oh, really?  I think what we are is perfect (  ?  ) when we do  that.  (that's right)  And we have some perfectly frustrated people and  sometimes perfectly  angry people when we do that.  To stuff our real  feelings, if you don't feel free to express them  and don't feel free to  disagree.  So, what does it mean, then?  Here's what it means:  "My brothers,  some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among  you.  What I mean is this:  one of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I  follow Apollos", another, I follow Cephas"; and another, "I follow Christ."   Now we've got a problem, folks.  You know, we've got people in the church  disunified on what subject?  Christ.  You have people who say "well, Paul,  he's my favorite teacher."  And "Apollos, he's my favorite."  And somebody  else says, "well, I love Cephas, he's so emotional."  And somebody else says,  "well, Christ, he's my favorite."  Look, Christ is not in the same category as  the rest.  And he makes it clear. What he is calling them to unity on.  He  says, "is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized in  the name of Paul?  I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you, except  Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.   Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, beyond that, I don't remember  if I baptized anyone.  Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the  gospel, not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of  its power."  That's what he called to unity on.  He calls us to unity on the  subject of Jesus Christ.  Check it out in the scriptures and you will find out  that is what we are called to unity on: Christ and the gospel.    Back to Romans 15:5  "May God, who give endurance and encouragement, give you  a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with  one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus  Christ."  How?  "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in  order to bring praise to God."  How are we going to have unity?  Well, lets  say a group of men sat down and say, "this is what we believe."  Like the  Methodist Church, like the Baptist Church and like every other denomination.   Let's have a group of men sit down and say, "this is what we believe" and then  let's  just forget about studying our Bibles, let's forget about learning,  let's just say "we all want to have unity through uniformity."  We're going to  have unity because we're just going to forget about our opinions, we'll forget  about what we believe, we're just going to buy in. Folks, I deny that is  unity.  That is denominationalism.  (that's right)  "For I tell you that  Christ has become a servant of the Jews, on behalf of God's truth, to confirm  the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for  his mercy."  Jews and Gentiles both in the kingdom of God.  Both in the  kingdom of God, Jews over here who want to keep the Sabbath. Gentiles over  here, wanting to eat meat.  All together, the Gentiles and Jews.  Everybody,  you know, having a (  ?  ), you know.  Jews can't hardly touch meat.  Gentiles  can't hardly touch the Jew.  And he says, look, how are we going to deal with  this?  Well, let's just go off and set up rules and doctrines and then we'll  just demand that everybody give heed to those.  No.  He says, "accept one  another."  Once they are in Christ, it's not the end of the world if somebody  disagrees with you on some doctrinal issue.  If you don't understand that,  you're a legalist.   Turn to Gal. 1.  I want you to notice something here.  You know, if we're not  going to have unity through uniformity by way of authority, then what is the  solution?  Somebody might ask, "well, what was the church like in the first  century?"  Look, I want to make this statement.  And,  again, don't get  nervous because of the truth.  I want to tell you something, the truth -- the  church in the first century was not organized like we have the church  organized today.   Gal. 1:15  Paul said,  "But when God set me apart from birth and called me by  his grace, was please to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among  the Gentiles, I did not consult any man." Now, you can't do that today.  I  think I'll go over and plant a church in Columbus.  "Well, what are you doing,  have you lost your mind?"  Well, brother, I just thought I'd go over and talk  to them. "Well, we were going to do that in the next (  ?  ) year in Chicago.   And we need to talk."  Paul says when he was called by God to preach the  gospel, he said "I did not consult with any man.  Nor did I go up to Jerusalem  to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into  Arabia and later returned to Damascus.  Then after three years, I went up to  Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.  I  saw none of the other apostles -- only James, the Lord's brother.  I assure  you before God that what I am writing you is no lie."  Three years Paul  worked in the church evangelizing the Gentiles without consulting any man,  without being tied into any structure,  without being under the authority of  any other man in the kingdom.  He preached for 3 years.  You say, "well, then  what happened?"  Chapter 2.  "Fourteen years later..."  You say, I bet now,  after 17 years that they got this thing organized.  "Fourteen years later, I  went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas.  I took Titus along also.   I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I  preach among the Gentiles."  He said he went up to Jerusalem and tell them  what he was teaching to the Gentiles, you know.  Share my (  ?  ) with them.   "But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I  was running or had run my race in vain." And when I got there, I looked around  and decided to figure out who the leaders were, you know, and those that  seemed to be leaders, I got them off privately and shared what I was doing  among the Gentiles.  I wasn't going to drop a bomb, you know, on the whole  mess there.  So I went in and got together...he is speaking to the leaders.   You know, if somebody came into this church and they looked around, he  wouldn't  have to say he got together with those who seemed to be leaders. We  the leaders very well defined.  You know, it's very well defined.  The early  church was not quite so well defined.  It was so evident to Paul.  "Yet not  even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he  was a Greek."  I think Paul was pleasantly surprised to find that there had  been progress made in the last 14 years and a lot of the wrangling was taking  place concerning circumcision evidently died down and these Jews did not  require that Titus be circumcised.  You know, earlier Paul circumcised Timothy  to keep from being offensive to people like this.  But now that kind of died  down and they were no longer trying to bind their scruples on him.  They were  no longer trying to say, "look, you gotta do this," you know, do you see  what's happening?   "This matter arose because some false brothers had  infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to  make us slaves.  We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of  the gospel might remain with you.  As for those who seem to be important--  whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external  appearance--those men added nothing to my message."  I think that's  interesting.  He said, "Hey, I shared with them what I was doing among the  Gentiles and they added nothing to my message."  They didn't say, "Hey, you  need to change this.  We're (....?...) not teaching that."  It's back to the  same thing.  You need to change your message back to what we told you.  No, he  said, they didn't add anything to my message.  "On the contrary, they saw that  I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles,  just as Peter had been to the Jews.  For God, who was at work in the ministry  of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an  apostle to the Gentiles."  Is it not connected together, really, in any way.   But God is working in Paul's ministry and he's over here working in Peter's  ministry too.  "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars..."   James, Peter & John were World Sector Leaders in the world today.  "James,  Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars...had heard about it.  They gave  me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace  given to me.  They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the  Jews."  That was their arrangement.  "And all they asked...."   was that we  do the same thing, send a special contribution, participate in the health  plan, send an administration (  ?  ) in,  subscribed to Upside Down Magazine,  that is all they requested.  Then we can have fellowship in our system.  "All  they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I  was eager to do."   Folks, the church was not tied together in the first century like it is  today.  Does that mean it's wrong to be tied together the way it is today?   No.  But it also means that it is all not to be tied together in this way.   It's a matter of judgment.  It's a matter of opinion.  God does not say how  the church needs to be tied together.    1 Cor. 16:12.  I want to give you another example.  Paul writing to the  Corinthians.  He says, "Now, about our brother, Apollos:  I strongly urged him  to go to you with the brothers.  He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will  go when he has the opportunity."  You don't have here where people are being  controlled when there can be no freedom of diversity, to be no saying "no, I  can't do that right now."  Or, "no, I can't give that right now."  Or, "no, we  can't accommodate what you are wanting right now."  Apollos was free.  He was  free to say, "no, I don't want to go right now."  I don't think that applies  today the way we have the church organized.  But that's the way the church was  in the first century.   In Acts 15 you find a tremendous example.  And I won't even take the time to  read that.  You find a tremendous example of two churches working together,  cooperating together to solve a problem. That's legit.  "Some men came down  from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers, "unless you are  circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved."   Unless you do it our way, you can't be saved.  "This brought Paul and Barnabas  into sharp dispute and debate with them.  So Paul and Barnabas were appointed,  along with some other believers to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and  elders about this question.  The church sent them on their way, and as they  traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been  converted. This news made all the brothers very glad.  When they came to  Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to  whom they reported everything God had done ...."  I want you to notice here  how you can also recall in Acts 6, if you want to do some additional reading  on this study, the church was involved in making important decisions in the  first century.  It wasn't a group of leaders, meeting in and deciding what we  need to do and then informing the church and saying, "here's what we're going  to do."  That's the way we do it today.    And the answer we offer for doing it that way is the church is a kingdom, not  a democracy.  And that sounds real good.  The only problem with that is it is  not true in the context that we're using.  The church is a kingdom.  It  describes God's relationship with the church universal.  God is the king who  sits over his church.  That has nothing whatsoever to do with the operation  of local congregations of the church.  Nothing.  God is the king over his  kingdom, his church.  Part of his kingdom is in heaven.  Part of the kingdom  is still on earth.  And there is no indication that in the first century that  God choose a man to be the king over the church and to have people under him,  and to give one to his authority and to give one to their authority.  That's  not in the Bible, folks.  You might not like it.  You make like it or you  might not like it, but it's not in the Bible.   The church was involved in making important decisions.  "Then some of the  believers who belonged to the party of the  Pharisees stood up and said, "The  Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."  Notice  who these people are -- they are believers who belong to the party of the  Pharisees.  That wouldn't be tolerated in the church today.  Here's some  people who have different opinions.  They're out of step.  They're not in line  with what the other people in the church believe.  What are we going to do  with them?   "Now, look, you've got to line up or you're out."  No. They were  believers.  They still have Pharisee blood running through their veins.  And  they weren't going to let go of their circumcisions.  They wanted people be  delivered to the law of Moses.  That's crazy. I think a lot of people knew  that was not a good idea.  But yet, they weren't thrown out of the church.   They weren't ostracized.  They weren't told, "Look, you're not with it.   You're not part of the kingdom."  They were different groups in the church.   There were people who believed different things.  They had different opinions  about doctrinal issues.    "The apostles and elders met to consider this question.  After much  discussion, Peter got up and addressed them:  "Brothers, you know that some  time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips  the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that  he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He  made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by  faith.  Now, then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the  disciples a yoke that neither we not our fathers have been able to bear?  No!   We believe it is a through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved,  just as they are."  The whole assembly became silent as they listened to  Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done  among the Gentiles through them.  When they finished, James spoke up..." and  gave his opinion.  Verse 19:  "My judgment, therefore, that we should not make  it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead we should  write them, telling to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual  immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood."  Let me tell  you something, folks, this was almost nothing in comparison to people....  There were some minimal requirements.  In fact, my opinion is, based on  studying the New Testament, based on what we studied tonight, that even if the  people do not go along with this, they're not going to be thrown out of the  church.  They were writing it, trying to go for an agreement. Trying to  resolve this in a manner that was acceptable to everyone.  The church at  Antioch and the church at Jerusalem, working together.  Not one lording it  over the other.  Not one being in authority over the other, but working  together to solve a problem that existed.  And that's the way I see it. (Amen,  preach it, come on, Ed....)   The problem is unity from uniformity by means of authority.  I'm not going to  cover them all tonight. I'm going to answer two or three.   #1   When we have unity through authority, when we 0 have the arrangement we  have today, churches are inadvertently damaged.  I want to emphasize  "inadvertently" because I want to make something clear here.  I am not  faulting anyone's heart in the questioning tonight.  I believe that the people  responsible for this structure have pure hearts.  I believe they love God.  I  believe they are dedicated to God.  I believe they serve God.  They sacrifice.   I believe that with all my heart.  I have no bones to pick with them.  I do  not criticize their hearts.  But I deeply feel that the churches are  inadvertently damaged when you have an arrangement where a church 2000 miles  away is responsible and has under its authority a church clear across the  country that they really have no  (  ?   ).   I think it's just human nature to all of us to be focused on our own  problems, on our own needs. Everyone has this problem ( ? ).  But I want to  tell you something, folks.  If you have a pile of money in your back yard, you  might make your decision, "look, I want to have charity and I want to work for  a living," but I want to suggest to you that when things got tough and when  you had an unexpected expense, you're going to run out to that pile of money  and you're going to take some. And when you get agreeing, of establishing a  business that you think is really great, you're going to run out there and get  some money from that pile and you're going to say, "let's go and do it."  And  the problem comes in if that money happens to be in your neighbor's back yard  instead of yours. And it belongs to him.  And you say, "well it doesn't to  anybody.  I mean, God's -- the kingdom of God doesn't belong to anybody."   You're right.  Doesn't belong to us.  And it doesn't belong to anybody else.   It belongs to God.  (that's right)  The question we have to deal with is how  do we determine how to use the resources that God gives us.  The money?  The  people?  The talents? Whatever we have, how do we use it?  What's the proper  and correct way to use it?    We have one church.  It has authority, total authority over another church.   I think that somebody might say, "well, we don't believe that we have total  authority because there's a lot of things that we don't interfere in."  But  the truth is, guys, they interfere in what they want to interfere in.  (that's  right)  I mean,  whatever they think is important, becomes important.  Kind  of like your Dad, you know, when you grew up and whatever he thought was  important, was important.  Maybe it didn't seem important to you, but it  better get important to you.  (that's right)  Why?  Because you're under his  authority.  So whatever he says is important, is important.    The last 5 years, I want to give you an illustration.  In the last 5 years,  twice other churches have come in and have taken from this church the best  leaders that had been raised up to serve this church..  In 1988, it would  sound like the whole thing.  He said, "well, what's your beef?  Are you  against sending the leaders out so that other churches can plant churches?"   No.  I'm for that.  I believe that with God. we  will work together to have  the world evangelized.  I'm not saying we want to horde all our leaders and  horde all our money.  Here's what I'm saying.  I believe when you go out,  you'll be the person to crank.  When we go out, when we (  ?  ) of twelve and  baptize a couple hundred people into Christ, I believe that we have an  obligation to those people.  (that's right)  I don't believe that you baptize  people into Christ and then fail to provide for them the discipling that they  need.  When we baptize somebody, we're bringing a spiritual infant into the  spiritual kingdom of God.  And we have obligations to that person.  You bring  a spiritual infant into the kingdom of God, then you put him in a situation  where you cannot put a leader over him who can meet his needs, who can help  him with his family, who can help him with his ( ? ), who can help him with  his finances, who can help him grow into Christ and reach maturity so he can  make it to heaven.  If we're not able to do that, the bottom line is that  somebody falls away and goes to Hell.  And not just somebody (  ?  ) to  somebody.  And so the consequences are bigger than what we realize.  I am not  against getting leaders.  I think a local church needs that the leaders that  lead need to be involved in being able to be able to say sometimes, "no, I  can't help you right now.  Maybe we can help you later, but not right now."   If we're just a pile of money, a pile of resources that can be visited at any  time, we're going to be depleted.  I'll tell you what.  This church has done,  I think, very well under the circumstances.  I want to tell you this.  This  church has been (inaudible)  (clapping, laughter)  We're working pretty hard.   We've been hurt, guys.  We've been hurt inadvertently.  This church has been  hurt by the taking of leaders.  Sometimes we are hurt by the expectations in  terms of money.  Other churches have been hurt.   Let me tell you something.  That I, as long as I have been with this church,  the truth is that I have filtered, I have filtered.  I have not passed along  to you everything that has been passed on to me. I have tried to protect you  from legalism as best I could.  And I'll be the first to admit that sometimes  I have given in to the pressure and I have done some things even in this  church that I am ashamed of and I need to repent of.  There are times that I  have pushed the staff  too hard.  In fact, I believe that there are people who  maybe could be in the ministry today who got out of the ministry because maybe  I pushed too hard.  And I'm sorry about that.  One of the reasons that I  pushed too hard was because I was being hard pushed.    End of tape.   Tape 2  Side 1:   It has been devastating to this church.  The top leaders and the best people  will break off the top and move to Chicago, leaving behind the people who were  weak, the people who couldn't move, many of them left behind children, having  been told "you're not a disciple because you won't go with the movement."  The  church left behind without (  ?  ) "I'm sorry, I'm in big trouble, but I  don't believe that's right."  (applause)   The church in Chicago that sent 200 plus people to L.A. in the last 2-1/2  years.  Not  of their choosing.   200 plus -- not just people -- leaders.  Not  of their choosing.  But because those people were exceptional -- I'll give you  an example:  last month the Chicago church was contacted by the L.A. church.   "We need you to send 12 people that we can use in the Cross & Switchblade  Ministry." The church in Chicago called the churches  here in the Midwest --  we're one of them -- we need 2 from you, 2 from you, 2 from you, 2 from you  and we'll send 4.  We put out the word and said, you remember, we made the  announcement, we had 3 people volunteer, 2 of them backed down.  We went to  some other people, asking them.  Can you go, will you go, would you be  willing to go?  We had no takers.  We sent the one guy that we had.  Out of  the 7 that was sent from the Mid West churches to be interviewed by someone in  L.A., 5 of them were rejected and only 2 chosen as being the kind of people  that they wanted.  They were looking for particular people.  Only 2 were  chosen. That was upsetting to the church in L.A.  So the person who came to  the interview called Kip and told him he was disappointed with the people he  was sent.  Kip called Marty and told him that he was disappointed.  Marty  called Ron Drabot and told him he had dirt on his face and told him to bring  it to our attention Kip's disapproval over the fact that we did not send the  kind of people that he wanted.  So then we were called and he rebuked us just  flat across.  And why I'm saying this to you, guys, what I'm saying to you is  this:  we have lost a spirit of unity through cooperation and a true  relationship.  We're not involved in a system that revolves around  expectations.  "You owe us." You owe us.  It's your responsibility, your God  given responsibility to send us the leaders we want, the money we want,  whatever we want to get the job done.  And I'm saying that churches have been  inadvertently damaged.  I'll give you further evidence later on.   #2   I believe another problem that uniformity by means of authority is that  error which originates at the top is spread uniformly throughout the churches.   And we have all, those of us who have been around very long -- now some of  you don't have the slightest idea of what I am talking about, those of you  newly baptized or being baptized pretty soon -- all you need to know is this  church, and hopefully, you've been involved previously, you're happy -- this  is (  ?  )  Some of you know very well what I'm talking about.  Errors which  originates at the top are spread uniformly throughout the churches.  You know,  when you can't say no to policies and teachings, when you don't have that  freedom to say "no, this bothers my conscience, I can't do that."  You say,  "well, you can do that. You can say no if it violates your conscience if you  want to."  Some of the error which originated, as we've seen, which we have  lived through the teaching that you must obey your discipler in all matters,  including matters of opinion.  Many of us have lived that.  Many of us were  almost killed by that.  We have lived through the eight to ten on one, the  hyper-meetings (?). ......inaudible section on tape.   I tell you, people were damaged.  We went through the life talks, the  reconstructions and people were damaged.  That's how it is with this kind of a  system and it originates from the top and spreads uniformly throughout the  churches.  And folks, that's not what the church teaches.   #3   We need to copy their system to study the scriptures.  That and after  (?) meetings.  You know, the last several years of Bible study, if I was  preparing to preach a sermon.......you know, I came to this the other day, the  fact is that my personal Bible study, and so far as getting in the word and  saying, "okay, God, what do you want to say to me now?  What do you want to  do?  What deep changes do I need to make in my life.  I stopped that."  Why?   Because it doesn't make any difference what God says to me.  Because of the  system and the policies and the doctrines and the changes in many cases had to  filter down from the top to the bottom and they can't start with me. They  can't start with me worrying what God says and going out and being a man of  God and saying, "look, I'm just going to do this."   I am doing it now.   But  for years I have not.  I have had to step back and say, "I know what God's  saying but if I do this, I'm going to get fired.  Or if I preach this, I'm  going to be in big trouble."  And I say with a system like that, it's not  good.  (applause)   The second obstacle and, by the way, let me throw this out.  I'm talking  about myself tonight and I'm also speaking for the staff.  For the staff, our  staff is totally unified with me about the things that I'm talking about with  you tonight.  I'm not speaking for you, though.  You're going to have to make  a decision for yourself about the direction that your life is  going to go in.   But the second thing that I cannot ..... that I cannot prescribe to is the  teaching that only those who are members of the Int'l Church of Christ are  saved.  (cheers, applause)   You probably shouldn't applaud like that, you haven't even heard what I'm  going to say.  I believe that teaching results in failing to understand the  difference between the gospel and the many and varied doctrines of the Bible.   There is a difference between the gospel and the doctrine of the Bible. I  used to teach and preach that if two people disagreed that both may be wrong  or one may be right and the other may be wrong.  But that both cannot be  right.  And the truth is that is not true.  Because the Bible teaches us in  Romans 14 that both can be right in the eyes of God if both are fully  convinced in their own mind, even though they differ and even though they  hold different opinions on a matter of doctrine.  They can both be made the  same by God, both can be right.  We're not going back again to all the  doctrines that might be right.   1 Cor. 15:1   You still don't know where I'm going.  I know some of you are  probably convinced you know where I'm going.  You're probably convinced that  I'm going to recommend in a little bit is that we break away from the movement.   1 Cor. -- I think that's a challenge -- "Now, brothers, I want to remind you  of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have  taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the  word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain."   Now, notice what he said.  You are saved by the gospel.  But that does not  mean you can disregard the wrath of the Lord.  You've got to hold firmly to  the word or you can fall away, lose your salvation.  I'm not changing the  doctrines of the Bible.  I'm not saying that for one minute.  But it's by  the  gospel that you are saved.  "For what I received, I passed on to you as of  first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the  scriptures."  Go down to verse 18 or verse 11 and verse 9.  "I am the least of  the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I  persecuted the church of God. By the grace of God I am what I am, and his  grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them --  yet not I, but the grace of God was with me.  Whether, then, it was I or they,  this is what we preach, and this is what you believed."   Folks, when you went down into the water to be baptized, you were asked a  question or two relating to your faith in Christ.  You were asked if you  believed if Jesus is who he claims he is.  And you were asked if you were  willing to accept him as the Lord of your life.  And you said yes.  And based  upon those vows, upon those commitments, you were baptized into Christ.  You  arose a new creature.  You arose with many things to learn, with a lot of  growing to do, with a lot of things that you didn't know, with a lot of things  that you'll never know.  But you were saved as a result of the gospel, not all  of the doctrines in the Bible.    Now what we've done in the discipling ministries -- turn to Matthew 28:18.   The Great Commission. This is our great commission.  You know, in Mark  there's a great commission.  In Luke there's a great commission.  But those  are never really used.  See, those don't say or make the point that we want to  make in this system.  "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations,  baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy  Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I  am with you always, to the very end of the age."  We have read a lot into this  passage.  We have interpreted this as saying "you go and the first thing you  do when you meet a person is you make him a disciple."  And we said, "how do  you do know what it means to be a disciple?"  Well, what was done is we combed  through the entire New Testament, we found every passage that deals with what  it means to be a disciple and we said, "this is what you need to be to be a  disciple, therefore this is what a person must know if a person is going to  really become a disciple and then we can baptize him."  And we said if he  didn't know any of these points, it was all done in the studies, this study  was done and he got this point in here, you know, that he really did make a  commitment to God, but we'll try to find one area where he did not understand  or he didn't know what it meant to be a disciple and we'll say, "you didn't  know.  You didn't become a disciple at all because you didn't even know what  the Bible taught on this.  So, how can you possibly become a disciple?"   Folks, I'd like to point out to you that when the church of Jesus Christ in  the first century went through a period of its greatest growth, the Bible had  not even yet been written.  The passages on discipleship that we have gleaned  from the study of the NT scriptures had not even yet been written.  The first  century Christians did not have a pocket edition of the NT to carry around  their Bibles and highlight the passages on discipleship.  They had to depend  upon the public reading of the scriptures and glean what they could.  And what  was read into this word "disciple" is not what this passage says.  "Go and  make disciples."  You know, we're going to have to make this passage jive with  the other synoptic accounts of this passage in our doctrine.  In all  fairness, we have to. They have to be saying the same thing, right?  They  were all there, they heard it.  They all wrote down their own edition of it.    All the gospels were inspired.  They've all got to mean the same thing. "Go  make disciples."  Who was a disciple?  The word "disciple" means a learner.   Go and make people learners about Jesus.  Then what do you do with them?  You  baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I think we all  agree that's where salvation comes.  Then what? Teaching them to obey  everything I have commanded you.  When does that come, guys?  Now, be honest.   You might not like this, but be honest for a minute.  When does the Bible say  that people would be taught everything that God has commanded the disciples?   Before or after their baptism? (after)  It was after.  I want you to notice  what we have done.  You be careful here, because you're going to stand before  God some day to give an account for what you teach people.  And I know some of  you are very, very loyal to some teachings that you have held to for a long  time, but it's time to get honest because you're going to stand before God  some day.  Here's what we've done.  We have frontloaded this whole thing.  We  have gone through and we have taken all of  the scriptures that we believe are  important in the Bible and we brought them all over here, pretty much a  higher doctrine, and we have made that the study series that we teach people  before we will allow them to be baptized.   Not just the disciple study.  The word study, the church study, the kingdom  study if we think they need it, the persecution study if we think they need  it, the light and darkness study, the Cross, the Holy Spirit study, #1 and #2  if we think they need it.  And then sometimes when we get all done and they   have said, "yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes" to our entire doctrine and  believes everything that we spend on because we teach it til we allow him to  be baptized.  And the truth is at any point they disagree and we reach an  impasse, we're taught you don't study with them any more.    I want to ask you a question.  When you reach an impasse at some point that  has nothing to do with the gospel and you refuse to study with a person any  more, have you chosen not to study with him because he has rejected the  gospel?  Or because he has rejected some point of doctrine over which maybe we  could possibly disagree and both go to heaven.  We not only teach our whole  doctrine before we let somebody be baptized, but we also feel free to do what  was done just a couple weeks ago in a church.  A college student was being  studied with and went through the whole study series. He was fired up and  wanted to be baptized.  The guy who studied with him brought him in to his  leaders and said, "Brothers, so and so wants to be baptized."  They said,  "but we need a chance to talk to him and question him and find out if the guy  is ready."  Some of the questions that were asked was had he pledged to a  fraternity?  Well, yes.  Well, you need go talk to him.  You go talk to him,  you need to tell him that he can't pledge to fraternities.  Well, why?  Well,  he's going to get involved in a lot of sin.  He's going to get involved in a  lot of sin, he's going to get involved in a lot of drinking and he's just  going to fall away anyway.  He's just going to fall away if he's going to a  fraternity.  So you need to go tell him he can't do it.  So they went and  they talked to the young man. And they said "you can't join the fraternity.   Won't baptize you."  He said, "my father was in this fraternity, my brother  was in this fraternity.  It's a family tradition and everybody expects me to  be in it.  Look, I'll be all right."  No, you can't be baptized.  He was  likened to the rich young ruler as the story went.  He went away sorrowful.   Why?  Not because he rejected the gospel.  Not even because he rejected some  doctrine.  We withheld salvation from someone because he would not agree not  to join a fraternity.  I've read this Bible front to back and it doesn't say  a blessed thing about fraternities.   [Gal. 1:6]  "I was shocked," said Paul to the Galatians, "that you so quickly  desert the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a  different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are  throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But  even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one  we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.  As we have already said,  so now I say again, if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other then what  you accepted, let him be eternally condemned."    For am I now trying to win  the approval of men?  Or of God?  I would suggest to you that I'm not trying  to win the approval of men.  (laughter)   Mark 16 -- this is Mark's account of the Great Commission -- have  you  compared Mark's passage with Matthew's account?  "He said to them,  go into  all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  Whoever believes and  is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned."  I  want to suggest to you that there is not one example in all of God's word of  anybody going through a protracted study before they were allowed to be  baptized into Christ.  Now you find it.  If you don't like it, I mean, it's  the truth.  I've heard how we teach discipleship these days.  The truth is  that we have changed the gospel from the simple message that was in the NT to  which people should be taught and be saved.  We have changed the gospel to  include our entire doctrine and if someone didn't agree on any point, we don't  allow them to be baptized.  And I'm saying it's false.   Now what am I saying?  Am I saying that we shouldn't study the Bible with  people?  No, I'm not saying that.  I'm not saying we shouldn't -- I think the  discipleship study is great.  I think all the studies we do with people are  great.  That's not my point.  My point is for us to say, "look, we're the only  ones saved because we have figured out what really is important in the Bible  and we've made it all a part of what we teach and we withhold salvation,  fellowship,  and heaven and God and everything else from you unless you accept  exactly what we have deemed important.  Unless you see it exactly like we do.  ....   I'm not saying don't study.  I'm saying you can't bind what God did not bind.   (that's right)   Turn to Acts 2 -- that's the one with all the .....?....  You know what we  taught in Acts 2?  I want you to notice verse 22, beginning in verse 22, I  want you to notice what was preached in Acts 2.  "Men of Israel, listen to  this:  Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles,  wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves  know.  This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge;  and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the  cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,  because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."  He quotes  David.  Verse 29: "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch  David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a  prophet and knew that God has promised him on oath that he would place one of  his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the  resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did  his body see decay.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all  witnesses of the fact.  Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from  the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and  hear.  For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "The Lord said to  my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your  feet."  Therefore, let all  Israel be assured of this:  God has made this  Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."  When the people heard  this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles,  "Brothers, what shall we do?"  Peter said, "Repent and be baptized, every one  of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins.  And  you will received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and  your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will  call."  With many other words he warned them....."  I've heard here "with many  other words" that must be where he taught the discipleship study.  It says,  "with many other words he warned them, and he pleaded with them..."  Now just  what is it "with many other words"?  "Those who accepted his message were  baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."    Folks, I suggest that 3,000 people were not only baptized without going  through a protracted study, but they were baptized without even having a one- on-one conversation with anyone.  They were baptized as a result of  responding to the preaching of the essential gospel.    You may say, "are you saying that it's not important to be a disciple?"  No.   I'm not saying it's not important to be a disciple.  I think it is.  And I'm  thankful for the discipleship study.  But I can say no longer that a person  who makes more out of Matthew 28: 19,20 than "Go and make learners of all  people, teach them about Jesus Christ.  That's the verse of the Bible.   That's what Mark was saying, that's what Luke was saying.  It was the gospel.   That what was preached in every example verse in the Bible.  The gospel.  Not  all the doctrine.  The gospel.  That's what we have to get back to, the  gospel.  Amen?  (amen)  The simple gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you have to  stop at some point of what it means to be a disciple, I can no longer with a  clear conscience -- look I have done it many times in the past -- and say  "you're not saved" because you don't agree with me on every point of doctrine.   That's not the gospel of salvation.    It's the right position on all of the  perceived important doctrines of the Bible bringing salvation.  And my  question is who is saved among us?  Because you do not hold the right position  on everything with me in doctrine in the Bible.    2 Cor. 9:7 tells us very clearly these last few points do not link.  And I'll  tell you this, 2 Cor. 9:7 tells us very clearly how we are to give.  It says,  "each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not  reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."   And the third thing that I think prevents us from being out from under the  legalism that has bound us and robbed us of our joy is the practice of giving  by compulsion.  The Bible clearly says here that giving is not to be done  reluctantly or under compulsion.  My question to you is this:  how can we as  individuals give not under compulsion when we, as an entire church  collectively are compelled to give a random, specified amount?  The point,  guys, is not that we don't want to give to missions. This church gave to  missions big time before it was ever requested or required.  This church still  wants to give that the gospel message can be preached.  But we can no longer  give credence to the practice of giving by compulsion.  You say, well how have  we done it?  This is one of those areas where I have really tried to protect  this church.  I get up here and I would say well, we want to give...because we  were given an amount, you know, we had to give 15 times our regular weekly  contribution.  We had nothing to do with setting it.  That's what we had to  send.  So what do we do? We talk to you and say, "pledge, tell us what you're  going to give to special contribution."  And we add it all up and come up with  $100,000 short.  (laughter)  And then what do we do?  Well, we get all the  leaders together and say "go back to your people, back to them again and ask  them -- tell them we're not there yet -- ask them can you do better, can you  give more."  And so we go back and say "can you do better?"  Some people say  yeah, I can do better.  Others say no, I can't, it's all I can do. And so we  add it all up again.  And we're still about $75,000 short.  So we say, look,  go back one more time and tell these people that we have to reach our goal and  you have not done your part yet. Go back, talk to them again and talk to  those people, you know, who you think they have not given as much as they  should have given.  Have a personal talk with them and try to see if they can  give more.  So the leaders go back and the leaders take this and they go back  reluctantly and they come back and have a talk with those they think can do  better.  So we add it all up again and now we're a little closer but we're  still not there.  We go back and say, "okay, since we're not there yet, we  gotta go out and we've got to have yard sales, we've got to have a garage  sale.  How many of you can work out at the Indianapolis 500 booth?  How many  of you can do the Golf Masters Tournament? Because we've got to get there,  we've got to get our goal.  And so people sign up to do things and they do  what they don't want to do.  And they go out and they do these things and  they sweat their brains and they come back and we're still not there.  We're  still about $50,000 short.  So what do we do then?  Well, then we say, "well,  let's all go out and have a walkathon."  You know, knock on the doors in our  neighborhood and ask the neighbors, you know, to give money to God's work.   And so we go out and do that, we knock on doors.  Then we go out and walk  around in circles, you know, on Sunday afternoon.  We get together enough  money to give...   Side 2   ... times when we have wanted to cooperate  but we're not being taxed.  I  don't think (  ?  ) was nearly as influential as it has become now that  expectations are assigned to us.  Guys, I've got to be honest with you.  I  don't believe to the penny that I have given to the special missions  contributions since 1986 since it began to be required and an expectation of  something we had to do and something so many times my regular weekly  contribution -- I don't believe that a penny of that I have given has  profited me anything.   I'm glad that it profited the church, I'm glad that  souls have been  won, but I don't think it profits me anything.  Because I  have not  given out of a heart overflowing with love and gratefulness to God  for what he had done.  And I can no longer condone that practice of giving by  compulsion.   4.   The final thing standing in the way of this church not being legalistic  is facing the constant pressure of arbitrary expectations of statistics and  quotas that rob us of our proper motivation.  The point of the Bible is   supposed to be loving God in motivating everything we do.  What I'm saying to  you guys is that we are under the pressure of so many arbitrary expectations  in the statistics and employees that really it is almost impossible to keep  our hearts pure and really focused on loving God and loving people.  We are  required to report on a weekly basis to Chicago, zone by zone, statistics in  regard to our attendance, our contributions, number of baptisms we had that  week, what our budget is, what our average giving per member is, predicted  increase in members the coming week, the actual increase in members for the  week just past.  Our attendance is analyzed as to whether it is bad, good,  great or awesome, according to a formula that has been compiled. Concerning  the number of children we have, the number of visitors we are expected to  bring and the number of members that we have, we have compiled what the bad  percentage, the good percentage, the great percentage and the awesome  percentage.  Our contribution is analyzed by zone and calculated:  how much  the average giving per member is, not only in our whole church but in each  individual zone of our church.  It is evaluated.  Expectations are passed  down through the leaders and all of us have been guilty of passing those  expectations to all.  The pressure is felt by the leaders from me to the  staff, to the Bible Talk Leaders, the missions team leaders, the house church  leaders, whatever we happen to be calling them at the time and passed on time  to you.  And the result is that it has turned us into a group of people who  generally do not tend  to be properly motivated by the right reason, motivated  by the means that God wants us to.  We've been robbed of our joy.  And that's  why we always have to pump up the church.  It seems every time we get  together, we have to pump everything up again.   I got a letter here, a couple letters I received this past week.  Here's a  portion of it:  "I've been in this church for 9 years.  I've seen so many  changes -- good and bad.  When you've had the urgent conviction to change some  of the long-standing practices that have always troubled my heart, the freedom  it gives me makes me want to do more for God.  My prayer for you and Bobbi is  that you will always have the courage to change whatever the Spirit directs  you to change.  (amen)  On Tuesday we had the best Zone meeting ever.  We  talked about knowing God and the atmosphere was worshipful and genuine.  It  was inspiring.  My heart was so encouraged by Roger sharing his desire to just  love God and love people.  More than anything, I want to be able to lead my  Bible Talk group and share my faith in Christ without a hint of a thought of  statistics or any other legalistic thinking (applause)  that causes I am  sharing my faith with impure motives that you come with (  ?) from God that he  will never bless us."  And, folks, I say amen to that.    The other thing that happened as a result of the pressure of arbitrary  expectations in statistics and quotas is that many people have been wounded  when they failed to measure up to those expectations. One church in the  movement, and I don't know if the practice is still going on, but I know it  went on at one time and may still be going on, for all I know, one church in  the movement actually put into effect the policy of removing from the  membership any member who was not fruitful in two months, they were removed  from membership.  Guys, I'm telling you that kind of stuff wounds people.  It  hurts people.    Also, I believe that keeping statistics and this pressure fosters a works  mentality that robs us of the motivation of love.  We studied Romans 12:8 and  following in the lesson I preached two weeks ago. where God teaches us that  love is the fulfillment of the law.  That's the purpose for all of  us.  And,  guys, I don't know how I can say to Andy, say, "look, Andy,  I want you share  your faith tomorrow because you love God.  And that's all I want to motivate  you.  I want you to be motivated by the fact that you love God.  And I'm going  to call you tomorrow night and see how it went.  But I want you to do it  because you love God.  And if you don't do it,  I'm also going to set your  hair on fire (  ?  ) (laughter)  I don't want you to think about that".  Now  you gotta trust me.  I think it is almost impossible to focus on love when we  fear the repercussions of  challenges and failing to make the results.    We had a great staff meeting the other day and what we shared really broke my  heart because people got real honest.  And we sat down on the floor and we got  honest.  And people felt free to talk and say what they wanted.  And some of  the staff people shared that, look, the truth is that when somebody falls away  in my zone, that my first thought is there goes my money.  So now I've got to  go baptize somebody to take their place.  For now I'm not going to get my  goal.  Guys, God forbid that leaders ever have to lead like that.  God  forgive.  I want us to be at the point where when somebody falls away that we  can sit down and genuinely cry for no other reason that the fact that we love  him.  (applause)    ....... and pressure to baptize, especially at the end of the month.  We have  the leaders come down from Chicago to preach to over 200 teens gathered for a  teen retreat this weekend.  They agreed to come two, three months ago.  Agreed  to come.  Two days before the retreat, they called and said I can't come.  Why  not?  Well, it's the end of the month and they don't want me to come because  we're not having a good month and they want me to see if I just can't get more  people in.  Guys, that is legalism.  (that's right)  As if it matters whether  somebody is baptized on Feb. 28 or March 1st. (applause)   Those leaders were pleaded with, saying at the end of the month we needed you  to go down. Motivate the people, motivate them.  Get in there and study with  this guy, study with him, move him along.   We need him to go down.  Well, he  hasn't even been to church yet.  Well, get him out to the mid-week service.   Keep him up til 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, you know, if you have to.  Do  whatever.  You know, we've done that.  We've gone in.  Keep him up til 3:00  in the morning.  We've studied.  What in the world are we doing?  What's it  all about?  We know.  What it does on a monthly basis, when you're judged on   a monthly basis like that, what it does is it ties our hands with leaders and  it forbids us too many times from doing what is really best for the church in  the long run. We've tried not to give in to this, though.  We've tried, but  we've failed.  The fact that we've even tried has resulted in this church  doing better.  (applause)   I might as well make a point here.  I'm going to say everything on my mind.   Years ago, when I came here to the church in Indianapolis, the church in  Cincinnati were about the same size.  In fact, the church in Cincinatti was a  little bit bigger.  And now, 10 years later, the church in Indianapolis is  nearly twice the size of the church in Cincinatti.  You say, why is that?   Because we have tried to do what is right about these legalistic things.  And  those who have been over us have not entirely had their way with us.  (amen)   Last year this church grew more than any other church in the entire Mid West,  including the Chicago church.  (applause)  I'm not saying that to put down  anybody.  I'm saying God blesses us when we try to do his will.  And what I'm  also telling you is that it's getting hard.  It's getting hard to fit in to a  legalistic system and do what's right for our consciences.   The 4th and final point I want to make here under what this pressure of  expectations of quotas does to us is over the long haul, the older churches in  our movement are in trouble.  That's the truth.  They might not hear that, but  I have the statistical information.  The growth in the movement is 16% last  year.  The truth is that most of that growth came in churches that were in  one of two categories: they're either new churches that have been planted  that have not been around a long time where people have not yet had an  opportunity to be burned out by the legalism, or the growth took place in  churches that were overseas in countries where there are more people wanting  to study the Bible than there are disciples to study the Bible with them.   Places like Kiev and Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg and Manila and places like  that.  Also in that number is the church in L.A. which imported, literally,  hundreds and hundreds of more members as leaders -- which is artificially  extenuated their goal -- nobody can keep up with them but that's because they  did not do that.  That's where the growth has come from.  And you look at the  churches like Chicago -- the church in Boston grew last year.  The church was  probably 4,000 members grew by 200.  The church in Chicago had a negative  growth last year.  The church in New York grew by about 102 or something like  that.  The churches in San Francisco and San Diego, the churches with 2-3,000  grew by less than 100 last year. Well, what is it saying?  It tells you that  this legalism is catching up with us.  The older churches are paying the price  for it.  And it's got to change.   I'm not saying, in conclusion, I am not saying that I am going to leave the  movement.  I'm not saying that we're right and now we discovered all the truth  and everybody else is wrong.  If we say that, then we're no different.  I'm  not saying that the movement, the churches, the people in the movement are  lost and going to Hell.  I'm not saying that.  I think that they are some of  the finest people on the face of the earth.  I believe that if they are doing  what they are doing, and I believe that they are, without love for God and  love for their fellow man, and I believe that is their motivation.  I believe  that love covers a multitude of sin.  I am not saying that they are lost.  I  am not saying that we don't want to be a part of them.    But this is what I am saying.  Hebrews 10:26  "If we deliberately keep on  sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for  sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire  that will consume the enemies of God."   My life has changed.  After this message tonight, you can be sure of that.   But my life has changed. I have made the decision to change my life.  Why?   Because I no longer can willfully sin.  I can not willfully participate in  things that I know are wrong according to the scriptures.  I am not saying  that everybody has to see it the way I do is going to Hell, because, hey, if  they have a clear conscience before God, then God bless them.  Because I  probably thought that about a lot of things, too, in my life.  So, praise God.   When I walk by their room in heaven, when I get there, I'm going to tiptoe  because they think they are the only ones there.  I'll tiptoe by so as not to  let them know that I am there too.    I can no longer go on like this.  I can't.  I have decided.  I can't.  The  entire staff has made that decision.  Every person on staff, I want you to  stand up.  All of you.  (applause)  They stand courageous that they have made  this decision.  And the decision that we have made is this:  we ask you in the  church tonight what direction do you want to go in the future.  Keeping in  mind that I am not talking about leaving the movement.  What I am talking  about is saying, "look, we want to have fellowship, but these things we cannot  do.  We cannot be under your sole authority anymore at the expense of hurting  the church, at the expense of souls, at the expense of violating our  conscience." (amen)    We need to know that the church, what direction you want to go.  I know that  there are some of  you here tonight whose loyalty to the discipling movement  is probably undoubtfully so strong that you probably haven't heard a word I  have had to say for a long time.  Because you have probably tuned me out a  long time ago.  And there are probably some of you saying, "no, I don't want  to go in this direction.  I want to hold on to what I have always believed."   And I want to say this to you:  I totally respect your right to make that  decision.  I do not sit in judgment of you.  I do not condemn you. I will not  say "do not participate."  I wish you nothing but the best and love God and  love people and do it with a clear conscience.  There are those of you  undoubtedly who say "I've got to go in this direction because if I don't, I'm  going to die."  You have that need.  "I've got to do this.  I have to do this  if nobody else in this room did this."   And we're going to take a vote.  And you're going to get a chance to express  what you want to do. And, yes votes:  we want to retain the staff that we  have and we want to move in the direction that you've talked about tonight.   And, no votes: means that I am uncomfortable with what you talked about  tonight.  I want to go back to the old ways that I feel comfortable with, to  what I believe.  In which case, if the majority of the church feels that way,  then as a staff, we will be resigning.  We'll be resigning.  And -- I'll get  your questions in just a minute.  You say, "why is that?"  Because, frankly  guys, the church -- if this is the direction that we want to go in, I don't  think this is something we should sneak up on.  I think this is something that  we need to be open to.  Be have an obligation to tell you where we are and  what we believe and what direction we will go in so that if you do not want to  go in this direction, then you deserve to have someone come in and lead you  who is fully sold on the things that I have spoken about tonight.  You need to  be led by somebody like that.  And that's going to be your decision.  And  we'll give you your opportunity to make that decision.   Before we do that, what I want to do.  We're not going to have time for  everybody to do this, but I want to give any of you who want to, the  opportunity to come up here and say whatever is on your mind.  Okay?  You  agree.  You disagree.  Whatever.  (cheers)  This looks like a setup.   (laughter) But I assure you it's not.    Bobbi Powers:    Ed didn't know I was going to come up here, but I felt -- I  mean, it has been something else around our house in the last few weeks.  But   I think it was Saturday Ed basically told me what he was really feeling.  And,  I mean I was mad.  I was mad because I thought "I love the movement."  I have  friends all over the world, you know.  I respect him.  I love him.  It's  sincere. And it was just so hard to just keep filtering things.  And the (  ?   ) may be just a few years down the road.  Things will change and, you know.   But I got the Bible out and I studied.  Ed hadn't even talked with me .  I  didn't know what he was thinking.  I studied things out for myself and I know  it's true.  And I know Ed always, in our whole marriage, every time he opens  his mouth we're in trouble. (laughter)  And I knew for years.  And I just  thought oh, are we going to do this?  But I know it's right.  I know that he  cannot go on having these convictions and not acting on them.  And they are  right.  I believe with all my heart.  I mean, Marty Fuqua and Chris Fuqua --  they are some of our best friends.  (other names inaudible) -- he leads the (   ?  ) church.   I mean, he's like a son to me.  I love him.  I love every one  of them.  I believe every one of those people have a (  ?  ) heart.  They love  God.  They're just doing what they think is right.  And I don't want to take  anything away from them. And I believe they're going to go to heaven.  And I  believe Ed has learned some things based upon the scripture that we need to  change.  And I stand by him.  Honestly, I wouldn't have the courage to do.  I  am the one who will go along with the crowd until things got better.  And I'm  very proud of Ed and his courage.  (applause)  And we sat down with all the  kids.  They were crying, you know. Derek is like a son to me and I sat down  with him today.  His brother leads the (  ?  ) church.  And I don't know  what's going to happen.  I love Derek with all my heart.  I don't know what's  going to happen to us.  I don't exactly .... for a week or two.  So, I know if  we follow God's will, I always have been safe.  If I follow God, he's going to  protect me, protect the family, protect the children and protect the kingdom.   And I'm holding on to the word tighter than ever and I encourage you to go  home and study the things that Ed talked about tonight.  I mean, you know, I  hope you could vote so that we can be available.  Or you could go home and  study these things out for yourself and come to your own convictions.  I don't  anybody to go on what Ed says, but what God says.  And also, if this means  that we all resign and you all are part of the discipling movement, I want  you to realize we still love you.  We're happy for you.  And if you can do  that and be happy, that's all we care about.  We only want the church to be  happy and to follow God.  So, basically that's it. (applause)   Female:   My heart's beating real fast right now.  I agree with everything Ed  said and....(inaudible)   Male:          I agree with what Ed said about legalism and all that kind of  stuff.  And in time, I will feel good .... inaudible......  How can I vote one  way or the other.....   Let me answer that question.  Because as of tomorrow or probably later on  tonight, in all likelihood, I will be fired.  Do you hear what I'm how the (   ?   )  works.  I mean, get real.  I'm going to be fired. Now why?  No.  I  mean, I'm not saying I'd give.  Let me tell you one thing.  My first and  greatest temptation when I came to these convictions, my first and greatest  temptation was to pick up the telephone and to call the person who is over me  simply to say "I resign."  That was my first temptation.  Why?  Because that's  the easiest thing for me to do.  I don't make any profits now.  I'm making a  living.  I'm not up against it financially.  I mean, we can do fine.  We  won't have to worry about that.  And then I thought, well, what's going to  happen?  What's going to happen to this church?  In all honesty, what's going  to happen?  What can happen to this church is that somebody is sent in here  who puts into practice the kind of legalism that, frankly, most of you are  not even accustomed to.  The truth is we have had a watered down version.  And  if somebody comes in here, my best guess is that the majority of people in  this church are not going to be able to cope with the kind of things that  we've been talking about here tonight.  And that change, I believe would be a  very destructive thing.  I think it's better if we can go on to -- this is my  reasoning:  I think it's better if we can go on together.  If we can be  unified or 90%-95% unified and then not do what other people have done.  Not  say what other people have done.  Not say, "look, we don't like you anymore.   We don't want anything to do with you.  We're against you.  We're going to  fight you.  We're going to hate you.  We're going to write about you."  No.   Say "we love you.  We want to be a part of you. And we want to be  fellowshipped.  We want to participate.  We want to give to missions.  We want  to be disciples.  We want to come to seminars.  We want to be involved.  But,  we can't do everything that you tell us to do."  I believe that could make a  difference.  Maybe it could make a healthy difference.   And my answer to the question -- it was a very good question -- my answer to  that question is we can only do that if we are united.  If we're united, our  staff cannot be fired.  They are going to have to contend with us.  They are  going to have to ..... (applause)   ....between what we've done and what  others have done.  That's the significant difference.  Don't miss that.  If   we were up to no good, we would just say, "look, we're out man".  We don't  want to do that.  There's potential for the movement of God.  You know, one  person -- somebody said "why didn't you call Chicago or L. A. first."  I say I  went through Hell this week.  Several people knew about this and I was like --  I thought my phone was going to ring any time and somebody was going to say  "what in the world is going on down there?"  And I wouldn't get a chance to  talk with you.  And it was tough.  Somebody said, "why didn't you just call up  front?"  I didn't call up front because one person, one person who steps  forward and says "look, I don't agree with this," I want to tell you  something, guys, there have been many people in our movement -- good people --  who have stepped forward and said "I can't do this any more.  I don't agree  with this, I think you're wrong about this, this and this."  And they have  been disposed of quietly and they are gone.  They are out of ministry.  They  are gone.  They are someplace else.  And that could happen here.  It could  happen.  That can't happen.  Together we are a force.  We can bring about a  change.  And so, to answer your question, instead of being quiet -- no, I've  got to ask you.  You've got a quick decision to make.  Because tonight, when  this meeting is over, I'm going to walk into the office and I'm going to call  Marty Fuqua in L.A. and I'm going to tell him what my convictions are and  where we are as a church.  And I'm going to be calling Jim and say, "Bro, the  church doesn't want me any more, can you send somebody in to take my place and  supply this church with leadership that they want and the leadership they  believe in."  Or -- and that is true for the rest of my staff as well.  Or,  I'll be calling and saying, "as a church, we have decided that we cannot do  the things you want.  It doesn't mean we don't love you, don't want to be a  part. But we're not going to do this anymore.  We're not going to be under  this kind of authority any more because it's not right.  And we still want to  be a part."  You say what's going to happen.  I don't know.  They might throw  us out.  They might disfellowship us.  I have no idea.  But I do know this: I  believe that the kingdom of God is bigger than the Int'l Church of Christ.   (applause)   Female:   I just wanted to share when I first came in contact with the  church, it was when I was in college  in 1978, from what I recall it was a  system that scared me and I learned to live with it. But at the same time, I  knew it was right.  I knew the preaching of the gospel was right.  Four years  later, I did become a Christian here at Indianapolis.   End of tape   Tape 3  Side 1:   James Burns:  Most of you guys already know who I am.  I'm James Burns.  You  know,   I come from a long line of people involved in the Christian church  background.  I've been involved in the movement for 13-14 years.  I was in the  ministry for two years.  Comparing the movement to (  ? ), people have great  hearts.  We all have great hearts.  You can have great hearts and still make  mistakes.  Listening to Ed over there, I started balling.  .... (crying, not  understandable)  I will not violate my conscience.  And I am very sorry.  I  have never felt so crushed.   Ed had more convictions than any other ministry.   And it scared me to see how much conviction the man has on this day.  And  when he shared with me, I was shocked with some of the response that he told  me.  I tell you, a minister for the church can't think of those things.  And I  was troubled.  ......   I was afraid of what I would become again.  And that's  the truth.  ....   A month ago I said, Ed, .........   Male: (Roger)       I want to share what's deep in my heart.  I ask that you  not give a lot of feedback right now.  I just want you to listen to what I  have to say.  And this is from my heart.  First of all, I want you to know  that what has happened over the last weeks has been very difficult not only  for Ed and Bobby, but for me and for James.  We have spent much time praying  and studying and fasting over this decision.  Ed came to my house and to the  staff and he came to a few of us, a few of the brothers who lead more of the  larger sections of the church, and he told us that he wanted to know where we  stood.  I want you to know that this isn't something that he dreamed up on his  own  to do.  He consulted us because he knew it would effect us.  And he told  us that he wouldn't do this tonight if we were not in agreement.  If one of us  were not in agreement, he would call and resign.  Because he is not one to  call us to shame.  And I respected him for that.  I also take very seriously  the decision that we were going to make because of how it was going to be  received and how it would affect our future.  And I want you to know after  studying and prayer, I am in complete agreement with the principles that Ed  has established tonight.  And I believe that it's the truth.  And I had to  come to the decision of how I'm going to face my wife with what I believe is  the truth or part of what was popular and would be accepted.  I believe that I  have violated my conscience.  I know, in leading some of you.  I apologize for  the way that I have taught and led and conducted my ministry and the effect it  had on some of you.  I know that I am taking a little longer than maybe I  should, but I feel compelled to say these things.  You see, I was a part of  the reconstruction, but from a different  vantage point than some of you.  In  fact, of the present staff, Jay and I were the only ones that flew here from  Chicago to help do the reconstruction.  I apologize to you tonight.  And  especially for harshness, for quick judgments that I did not have all the  truth on to make.  After the life talk, I would make judgments on your life.   And I apologize for that.  You know, I ask that you forgive me because I  seriously have repented and confessed that to God and ask that you forgive  me. I felt like I was becoming something that I did not want to become.  I  went through a difficult time in the ministry here after my time of  reconstructing some of you.  I then later got reconstruction. That was very  difficult.  I stood in groups, study groups, much like Ed described.  But  what I want to share is that was a very difficult time in my life.  Not only  did I consider giving up the ministry and consider giving up being a Christian  and had very bad thoughts, even suicidal.  I vowed at that time that I would  never return to leadership.  Since that time, with Ed's prodding, I've been  refreshed. Ed's leadership, with my personal relationship with him.  I'm very  loyal to Ed.  But I want you to know that this decision is not based upon  loyalty to Ed.  It is based on my loyalty to God's word and to the truth of  God.  I ask for your prayers that I'll never return to that type of  leadership that Ed described.  I've committed myself to rid myself of both  personally and in my leadership of legalism and I pray for the wisdom to know  how to lead in such a way that will glorify God and not bind burdens on  people.  I want to make the necessary changes to live this way.  I have felt  free this week after making the decision from study that I have made.   But I,  along with Ed, believe that if we do not make the decision together as a  church, that I will not have the freedom to lead in this way.  That is my  opinion, but it is based upon experience that I have had both in Chicago and  the reconstruction and in other talks with other ministry people.  I am  prepared tonight, if you vote no, to resign.  I want you to know that I took  some time to get up here, but that's Ed's  speaking for me.  That is my  conviction, my plan.  If you decide to do that, I want to support you.  I  must live with my conscience. I must live before God, I am going to stand  before God's judgment some day.  And I am not going to violate what I believe  is the truth and right.  And I am not going to treat people in an unjust way.  In a loving way, I have decided I am going to live my life to lead whatever  ministry God wants me to live by loving people and loving God in the way that  I believe are in the scriptures.  I thank you for listening to me.  God bless  you.  (applause)   In a minute we're going to start passing out the cards.  And I want you to be  clear about this.  A "yes" vote is to retain the present leadership, a "no"  vote is to have a new leadership come in that would be continued in the  direction of the discipling movement, basically unaltered.  So "yes" is a  vote for this and a "no" is a vote against it.  For those -- I'd like for you  to give us another 15 minutes.  I know that it is late.  I am very conscious  of that.  And I'm going to ask that the people who share that they to say no  more than 1 minute apiece.  I'm going to touch you after 1 minute.  But if you  absolutely have to leave, fill out a card before you do and let's put an  usher at the back of each aisle and you can give them to them.  And for those  of us who can stay, we'll pass them to the aisles and collect them in a  minute.  But, I'm going to ask the people speak no more than 1 minute.  I  think we have maybe 10 people speak and then we're going to have to cut it off.   Male:          This is the first time--the thing I want to express--I pray to  God for the church.  You know, .....  people who are committed with all their  hearts to God and they...and I will say that there have been a lot of things  that ... after me.  But the leaders still love God.  And I feel that we need  to go apart.  I think the large part is the statistics and the pressure to  make them .... I am so thankful that I was heard.  It made an impression on my  life.  I'm so thankful that the people in my life did not pressure me to say  "you have to do this, you have to get that, you have to do this."  You know,  that wasn't the case.  And I pray to God for people that loved me  enough....and that's what love is about. And I believe that we are a church  that loves God.  And if you love God, God will lead us.   My name's Paul .... and I think it's great.  So I'm just going to tell you  that I've been around for probably 10-11 years and seen the church go through  all kinds of things.  And yet, the reason I cam to this church is mostly  because I really wanted to love God.  I wanted a real relationship with God.  And I feel like that God controls the movement and I guess what I want to say  is that I also feel like almost everybody here in saying "amen."  This is what  I've been hoping for.  I'm not going to say that I knew that all these things  were wrong with the church.  But I did always know that my motivation wasn't  there.  I'm trying to love God.  I'm trying with all my heart, but it's not  happening. And I really believe that Ed has hit the nail on the head tonight.   And I think what we have to do for the church is we've really got tonight  pray to God that God will protect the church and that also the church here  will lead the way and others will join in.  (applause, cheers)  And that this  will be a positive thing in all the world and that this won't be negative.   Male:          I agree with what he said and I also feel like that the  biggest part of being here, thinking about that, that God is going to use this  church as that catalyst to make change.  You know, when I'll be working on my  van, getting it running properly.  I've had to change the alternator, the  fuel, the bad filter, had to change the gas pump and it's finally running.   But I had to fine tune it.  If I didn't make those changes, it wouldn't run  properly.  And I really believe that God is in a period of using this church  to make some fine tuning.  I appreciate Ed.  I still think that -- when I  first met Ed I thought to myself "wait a minute, this short guy here, you  know."  ....  And I'm so thankful for Ed for how God is using him.  And it's a  scary, scarey thought.  But it was just serve God and serve God is what we  want to do in our convictions that it will be all right.  Whether it's fear  or joy or what, but serve God with it.   My name is Mark (?) and I'm from the West Zone.  And I don't have any (?) to  ( ? ) anyone one way or the other tonight.  All I have to say is my feeling is  that it's really going to scare the...this is a significant point in my life  and this is my family.  These people, you know, around here is the reason I  come back early from my parents' house on Sunday morning.  It's why I'm doing  this.  Because you guys are my family.  My best friend....and I just want to  say that I'm just going to stay...if anyone, if it  violates your conscience  and you still want to be part of the movement, I just want you to know that  we're still going to be your friends.  I hope that we can still share with  each other and be best friends and understand each other.  Because that's what  I'm going to feel towards you.  And I hope we can still have a friendship.  I  always consider every person in this room as being my family and spend time  together many times for the next years.   I want to thank Ed and all the other leaders for doing what they did tonight.   It ... me to no end.  I personally have got to share something with everybody  in my zone here.  I apologize that I have been...telling you do this, do that.  ....I just feel the love from them...inaudible  And Ed, I just really want to  thank you for finally doing what I believe is right.   Male:   ....three weeks ago, it was one of the most exciting things that has  happened to me in my Christian life.  I was really excited about it. ...it  just really felt like home to me.   And I was thinking, my God, I'm so  motivated.  ...acted pretty bad.  And I started thinking about it at the  time, actually it was....being discipled and I lost track of it again and I  had a good relationship with God so I started sharing my faith.  Eight people  were baptized in eight months as a direct or indirect result of my sharing my  faith...  And lo and behold in the reconstruction, they asked....fell away  from the church...being fruitful for the longest period of time.  And I've  seen a lot of things happen.  And it really scared me.  And I believe that the  churches are like people.  And the simple fact that we have 800 improperly  motivated people here and we multiply that by the number of ... shows you  that the problem...  And you'll know the servant of God by the fruit.  And I  believe...   inaudible   And I just never met anyone anywhere that I trust more than Ed Powers.  This  guy has always been ...from the scriptures and God's word.  I'm sorry to say  this but I've never seen it.  I have never seen this thing with money that he  is describing in God's word.  And I uphold him for his courage and for doing  this.  And it's my fear, my fear coming here tonight, was that the  announcement would be made that Ed was ... and in the event that happened, I  knew what was coming to replace him.  And my mind was made up if that was the  announcement.  I'm glad that it's turning out the way that it is...   Ed Powers:    I want you to put your name on this form.  So print your name  on the card.  And if you refrain from voting, put your name on the card and  send it in and we will count it as a "no" vote. Okay?   Well, I don't know what else to do.  I think you've got to go with what you  think.  I told you we'd shut up at 9:30.  We're going to have to do that.  I'm  sorry that you haven't had the opportunity to hear from everybody, but I want  you to go ahead now at this time.  Make decisions.  Let's pray and we after we  pray, let's have some one lead us in song while we pass these in.  And then  we will announce the results.   Father, we love you.  And we want more than anything to do your will.  We  pray that you will move in our lives tonight, you will be with us in making  this very important decision.  Father, we pray our hearts will be pure and  there would be no wrong motives on the part of anyone here tonight.  And I  pray, God, that you would have no .... tonight.  We really want that more  than anything else in the world.  Please move in the hearts of these people  right now.  That is my prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.  (amen)   Go ahead.  Then we'll count these.   Yes vote to retain the present leadership.  No means you would not.    End of tape 3.  (side 2 blank)   

Back to other articles about the International Churches of Christ.