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A Religious Controversy | Charles E. Orr

Conversation 16

Mrs. Wiseman—Well, James, I’ve finished my work and am ready to continue our talk if you’re not too busy.

Mr. Wiseman—I’m glad you have come in, Sarah; I’ve been reading your paper, and it speaks quite often about “this reformation.” What is meant by this reformation?

Mrs. W.—This truth those preachers are preaching and that is being taught by the saints, is a reformation. There have been a number of reformations in the Christian world. You’re well acquainted with the Lutheran reformation, and you’re still better acquainted with the Wesleyan reformation. These were of God. In the Roman Catholic sect there was no light of God, except in a few hearts here and there. God gave Luther some light on His Word, and Luther lifted the standard of the Bible up to all the light he had.

Mr. W.—Yes; I understand that, but I’m waiting to know about “this reformation,” as you call it.

Mrs. W.—That’s what I’m going to tell you. Wesley was given more light of God’s Word than Luther had, and he raised the gospel standard up to all the light he had: but he didn’t have the full light of the gospel. You well know how that reformation has gone. They were once a plain, humble people, but now they’re as worldly, proud, and fashionable as any people.

Mr. W.—It’s useless for me to deny facts, but there are some good people among them.

Mrs. W.—Certainly there are, and now God is calling all those good people out, and not only out of the Methodist sect, but out of every other sect. There are some, no doubt, in every denomination who love God and are living the best they know, and God is calling them out. That’s what is meant by the voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people.”* (Revelation 18:4) It’s to flee out of Babylon. I’m out. Praise God! I’m no longer under the bands and straps of man, but free to worship God according to the Bible.

Mr. W.—You say God is calling His people out of the different denominations. Is He going to call them into one big sect?

Mrs. W.—No, sir; not into one big sect, but into the church of God, which is not a sect.

Mr. W.—All the different denominations are the church of God.

Mrs. W.—In that you are mistaken. They’re no part of the church of God.

Mr. W.—Well, I’ll now acknowledge to you I had begun to believe pretty much all you had been teaching, and I had actually been thinking something of joining your new church, but I declare this is too much for me.

Mrs. W.—Well, I’ll try to make it plain to you, the Lord helping me. In the first place, I’ll say that I’ve no new church for you to join. If I had a church for you to join, or these preachers or any other man had a church that you could join, that would be a sect; but we have no church. God has a church, and he built it himself. Jesus said. “Upon this rock I will build my church.”* (Matthew 16:18) Jesus built a church for Himself. It’s His and I’m a member of it. Thank God!

Mr. W.—Well, tell me how you got in. How can you get into a thing you can’t join?

Mrs. W.—How did our children get into our family?

Mr. W.—Why they were born into our family, to be sure.

Mrs. W.—That’s just how I got into the church that Jesus built. I was born into it.

Mr. W.—Well, don’t you mean when you were converted?

Mrs. W.—Yes, I mean when I was converted only a few days ago.

Mr. W.—Weren’t you converted years ago in the Methodist church?

Mrs. W.—No, sir; I wasn’t converted into the Methodist church. I was converted, and thus I came to be a member of the church of God, but I joined the Methodist church afterward.

Mr. W.—It seems to me I see a faint glimmer of light. Let’s talk on.

Mrs. W.—Well, if I had known why, I need never have joined any church that man has built. It’s those man-made churches that separate the people of God. A few are taken into one sect and there taught to believe certain doctrines, and a few taken into another sect and taught doctrines contrary to the others. In the name of common sense, how can they be in harmony with the Bible and teach doctrines contrary to each other?

Mr. W.—I don’t say that the churches are just right, but some are nearer right than others. I think our church is the nearest right.

Mrs. W.—The thing that is most like the genuine and yet not the genuine is the worst deception. There’s a church not only nearly right, but altogether right. Let me read you a description of it. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”* (Ephesians 5:25-27) Now let me ask you a question—how many churches is Jesus here talking about?

Mr. W.—Well, He’s talking of but one.

Mrs. W.—If He’s talking of but one, tell me then which one.

Mr. W.—You know so much Bible, you tell me which one.

Mrs. W.—I’ll do so with pleasure. Listen—“Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” So He’s talking about the church that He gave Himself for.

Mr. W.—Well, didn’t he give himself for all the churches?

Mrs. W.—The Scripture does not say He loved the churches, and gave Himself for them: but for it—only one.

Mr. W.—Maybe you can tell which one.

Mrs. W.—Let the Bible inform us. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”* (Acts 20:28) Here we see it was the church of God for which He gave Himself.

Mr. W.—Yes, I see, and this brings us back to what we were talking about a while ago. I say it is the different denominations that make up the church of God, and you say they’re no part of the church of God.

Mrs. W.—Yes, I say they’re no part of the church of God. They cannot be. While some of God’s children have membership in them, that doesn’t make them a part of the church of God.

Mr. W.—I don’t see why it doesn’t.

Mrs. W.—I’ll show you. We will illustrate it this way first: nothing can be the church of God, or any part of the church of God, that a sinner can get into. Now we’ll take your church, as you call it. Are there not some in it who are not Christians at all?

Mr. W.—Certainly. There are good and bad in all churches.

Mrs. W.—Don’t be too sure of that. There isn’t a sinner or bad person in the church for which Jesus gave Himself. But it’s a fact, is it not, that if there are some sinners in your church, it is possible for all to be sinners? I mean to say, if one can be a sinner and be in your church all could be sinners.

Mr. W.—Yes; I’ll admit that all could be.

Mrs. W.—Then suppose they all were, what part of the church of God can a church be that has not a Christian in it?

Mr. W.—But there are some Christians in it.

Mrs. W.—But don’t you see those Christians don’t make it any part of the church of God, from the very fact it’s something that sinners can get into, and if sinners can get into it, then it’s possible that there be nothing in it but sinners, and such a thing can’t have any union with the church of God. It wouldn’t if they were all Christians. The very fact that they could all be sinners proves it to be no part of the church of God. Now, if your church were something so organized by God that conversion would put one into it, and none could get into it but those who were converted, then it would be some part of the church of God.

Mr. W.—It seems I can’t get you to understand. It’s like the Bible says—the different denominations are the branches of the church of God. It’s like a tree or like the human body. There are many branches on the tree, and there are many members in our body, but all belong to the same tree and the same body. Now I think you’ll surely give it up.

Mrs. W.—I’m very glad you brought up those figures; for by them I’ll prove to you that your denomination is no part of the church of God. But it’s meeting time, and I must go to meeting. Those meetings are glorious to my soul. It’s a heavenly place. Won’t you come and go with me tonight dear?

Mr. W.—Not tonight. Are many being converted?

Mrs. W.—There have been quite a number saved—I think twenty or more.

Mr. W.—How long will these meetings continue?

Mrs. W.—I don’t know. We’re going to have baptizing next Sunday. Good night. Don’t forget where we left off talking. Good night.

Mr. W. (talking to himself)—It looked to me like my illustrations would confound her, but I’m sure she’ll tear them all to pieces; she always does. I must be wrong. I know I’m not saved; I’m nothing but a wretched sinner. I would be afraid to meet God in my present condition. May He have mercy on me.