Whether it be of God
No Proselytes in Zion
By William & Vivian Stoppel
Our hearts are sad to the point of breaking, and this letter is a plea for help. We fell in love with the orderliness of the Holdeman people seventeen years ago and are still in love with you today. We beg to stay among you forever. But our fellowship with you is being threatened, and we urgently need your help.
In studying for a new book supporting the doctrine of the one true church, we were greatly disturbed to find many scriptures that seem to prove that all true believers are part of the one true church and when they assemble, this is the visible church. If this is true, we sadly must withdraw our support of certain portions in our two books, Whether it be of God and No Proselytes in Zion as containing false doctrine.
The Bible indicates we should “search the scriptures daily” to see whether what is taught is true. We are to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” As we have shared these verses, no one has yet offered valid scripture to consider, but rather automatic labels (deceived, bad spirit, unteachable, offended, etc.) Brethren, will this help us? This has only strengthened our doubts. If the only way to support a doctrine is to attack the questioners, does this mean there really is no scriptural support?
We readily admit our spirits are not always calm and unruffled. This is a heart-wrenching, cataclysmic, earth-turned-upside-down issue. Separation from you will bring us loss of family and friends and the life we’ve known and loved for years. If you love us, will you help us by looking past our intensity, our concern, our alarm—and give us solid scripture to refute our understanding of these scriptures? If we are to be rescued, our dear, dear brethren, it must be by you. And it must be by the infallible Word of God, not logic or argument.
Here are the scriptures we need scriptural answers on: Please forgive us for such a long list—we don’t want to have a “lawyer spirit,” but this issue is vital, and the inspired Bible, not man’s creed, is where we find truth. We included the scriptures that have shaken our belief in the one true church. Because at this point we believe what is written here, we may come across as confident. But at best we “see through a glass darkly.” Please believe that we are willing (even longing) to be shown our error. We are in no way rejecting you, our beloved brethren; but we must reject false doctrine.
William & Vivian Stoppel
|1. Where in the Bible does it say it is possible to be a Christian and not be part of the body or bride of Christ?|
“Ye are the body of Christ”(1 Cor. 1:2 with 12:27).
“For we being many are ... one body”(1 Cor. 10:17).
“Your bodies are the members of Christ”(1 Cor. 6:15).
“But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit”(1 Cor. 6:17).
The Bible says to anyone who is called or is a saint:“So we, being many, are one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5).
The Bible says to those who are called:“Ye are called in one body” (Col. 3:15).
The Bible says to the faithful in Jesus Christ:
“For we are members of his body”(Eph.5:30).
The Bible says Christ’s body is the church:“The church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:23) “He is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18).
The Bible says all who have faith in Christ are overcomers(1 John 5:5) whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 3:5). All whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are part of the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:27). All others are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). It is impossible to be saved outside of the bride, the one true church of God.
|2. Where in the Bible does it say that Christ’s followers are divided into two realms, the kingdom and the church?|
The Bible says“is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:13).
The Bible says“There shall be one fold and one shepherd (John 10:16).
Jesus told the Jews that He had other sheep (the Gentiles who would soon be offered the gospel) that He must bring into one fold. Wasn’t this fulfilled when He...“made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” and made “in Himself of twain one new man”and reconciled “both unto God in one body by the cross”? (Eph. 2:14-16).
The Bible says:“He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
The Bible says that anyone who is “in Christ” is also one with the Father and with all believers:“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:20-23).
The Bible says if we are not kept in oneness, we are lost:“Holy Father, keep through thine own name those thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are….none of them is lost, but the son of perdition” (John 17:11,12).
Is not this oneness position in Christ, rather than complete agreement on all detail of doctrine?
The Bible says:“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:3-6). How can a person be called in the same hope as we are, exercise the same saving faith that we exercise toward the same Lord that we have, receive the same Spirit that we have received, have the same God and same Father within them as we have—and not have the same baptism?
The Bible says in contrast to water, Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit.“I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” Mark 8:1
The baptism of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was without water:“John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5).
Every believer upon conversion is baptized with the Holy Ghost into Christ, into His death, into one body:“Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3)
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ”(Eph. 4:27)
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…and have been all made to drink into one Spirit”(1 Cor. 12:13).
The Bible says Jesus adds all saved people to His church:“And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2: 47). Water baptism is a mere outward symbol. A baptismal or physical lineage is a fabrication having no support in the Bible or history. Even the author of the Martyr’s Mirror repudiates such a claim (pg. 26).
|3. Where in the Bible does it say that a person can be the following:|
born again, saved, forgiven, quickened, transferred from darkness to light, given eternal life, circumcised without hands, baptized and sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, have a hope laid up in heaven, have the righteousness of God imparted, be justified, sanctified, reconciled, washed by the blood, redeemed, given Christ’s peace, have Christ indwelling, be married to Christ, hid in Christ, a child of God, an heir of Christ, the seed of Abraham, complete in Christ, chosen, called, foreknown, elect, predestined, freed from law, buried with Christ, risen with Christ, seated with Christ, be part of a holy nation, a chosen generation, a peculiar people, accepted in the beloved, of the household of faith, be added to the church by the Lord, be one with the Father and Son and all believers, have come to Mount Zion, Heavenly Jerusalem, ——-and not be my brother?
the Church of the FirstbornMenno Simons, Dirk Philips, and the majority of Anabaptist writers believed the church included all believers and was to be found wherever two or three believers gathered in His name. They rejected the concept of saved people outside the church. (Dirk Philips Hand Book) (Menno Simons Complete Writing ).
|Where in the Bible does it say that the church is known by its complete agreement in all details of practice?|
The Bible says all believers are one because they have the indwelling Father, Son, and Spirit.(1 Cor. 8:6; John 17:20-23; 1 Cor. 12:13). It urges agreement and loving submission to one another, but it allows for differences of opinion or style of administration: “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor. 12:4-5).
“Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful disputation. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him”(Rom. 14:1-3).
“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind”(Rom. 14:5 see whole chapter).
|Where in the Bible does it say the visible church will be an organized denomination?|
The seven congregations in Revelation, each with a candlestick, stood alone before Jesus with no denominational umbrella coverage. They either were or were not part of His church according to His judgment.(Rev. 1:20-3:22).
The Bible says denominations or sects (which is the Greek word for the death sin, heresy) is “ a party” : Strong’s or “a body of men separating themselves from others and following their own tenets”: Thayer’s.
The Bible calls it carnal to group into a denomination:“For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos [or Menno or Holdeman]; are ye not carnal? (1 Cor. 3:4).
The Bible says there should be no schism in the body of Christ. By refusing to acknowledge Spirit-filled children of God whom Christ calls brother(Heb.2:11) as part of the body, are we not the most schismatic of all? “That there should be no schism in the body” (1 Cor. 12:25).
The Bible says:“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). The visible church is simply the assembly of members of the body of Christ. Binding and loosing (the Bible does not say this involves salvation or loss of it) is given into the hands of any two or three who gather in His name. As part of the one true church and the pillar and ground of the truth, these individual congregations are given the guardianship of dispensing the Word, baptizing, ordaining, expelling, etc. If a congregation performs faithfully, won’t God bless their efforts? If they, like Diotrophes who expelled people wrongly (3 John 9,10), perform their responsibilities amiss, will God sanction their actions? It has been said that without an organized denomination as the only true church, excommunication won’t work. But ultimately the strength of excommunication lies with God, who binds in heaven. In any church, the expelled can easily go to another church, but if he is scripturally expelled, he stands expelled before God no matter where he goes. If he was unscripturally expelled, he stands free before God.
|Where in the Bible does it say the church on earth will be without spot and blameless?|
The Bible says the Church will be someday presented to Christ without spot or wrinkle:“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” (Eph.5:27). Isn’t the Church blameless only by the shed blood of Christ and her union in Him?
In practice, however, the New Testament Church had the following flaws: (a partial list taken from the congregations at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Colosse, Crete, household of Gaius, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicia).
divisions(1 Cor. 11:18), contentions (1 Cor. 1:11), fornication (1 Cor. 5:1), lawsuits (1 Cor. 6:6), envying (1 Cor. 3:3), pride (1 Cor. 5:2), weak brethren (1 Cor. 8:11), heresies (1 Cor. 11:19), disorderly conduct (1 Cor. 11:20-22), false teachers ( 2 Cor. 11:4), false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13), Satan’s ministers posing as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:15), debates (2 Cor. 12:20), deceivers (Titus 1:10), backbitings (2 Cor. 12:20), uncleanness (2 Cor. 12:21), lasciviousness (2 Cor. 12:21), legalism (Galatians) perversions of the gospel (Gal. 1:7), hypocritical ministers (Gal. 2;11-14) ministers who expelled wrongly (3 John 9,10), false doctrines (Rev. 2:14,15), unruly (1 Thess. 5:14) rich greedy men (Jas 5:1-5) liars (Titus 1: 10-14)
We are being sanctified. Isn’t the group of born-again, Spirit-filled believers down the street being sanctified in the same way?
|Where in the Bible does it say the Church is permitted to make mandatory commandments of men?|
The Bible says those who make commandments of men are: “unruly…vain talkers…deceivers…giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men” (Titus 1:10-14).
The Bible says those who make commandments of men:“depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils “ (1 Tim. 4:1).
The Bible says it is false brethren who:“spy out our liberty…that they might bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4).
The Bible says we are not to submit to bondage and ordinances and commandments of men:“Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).
“Wherefore…are ye subject to ordinances, (touch not; taste not; handle not)…after the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Col. 2:23).
“Beware lest any man spoil you...after the tradition of men”(Col. 2:8).
“Let no man therefore judge you(Col. 2:16).
“To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour”(Gal 2:5).
The Bible says legalism perverts the gospel:“There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6,7).
”Commandments of men that turn from the truth”(Titus. 1:14). “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gal. 2:5). Is this the source of “weak” conversions?
The Bible says being a legalist is falling from grace:“Whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4)
The conference at Jerusalem was to settle for all time that the only prohibitions carried over from the Old into the New Covenant were abstaining from idols, blood, things strangled, and fornication. There is no record in the seventy years the Bible was being written that another conference was held, nor is there indication that there ever should be a repeat. The only guidebook we need is the perfect Bible : “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
The Bible says that whoever adds to it shall be punished:“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18)
|Where in the Bible does it say the Church is given the right to interpret scripture or that we should walk in our brother’s light?|
(This is a very Catholic doctrine, denounced by both Anabaptists and Protestants.)
The church (where two or three believers gather) is the vessel by which God spreads His truth to the world. In this way is she the ground and pillar of the truth, not the originator or official interpreter of truth. Interpreting Scripture is the function of the indwelling Holy Spirit to each believer.
The Bible says:“no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet.1:21) Is this not saying that Scripture did not originate from someone’s private opinion or interpretation, but from God? To claim an individual cannot, with the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, interpret scripture, disagrees with the following other scriptures:
“Ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie” (1 John 2:27).
“He [The Holy Spirit] will guide you into all truth”(John 16:13)
“He [The Holy Spirit] shall teach you all things”(John 14:26).
“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things”(1 John 2;20).
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”( 1 Thess. 5:21).
“They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”(Acts 17:11).
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? …Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God”(1 Cor. 2:11-12).
“If in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you”(Phil. 3:15).
“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind”(Rom. 14: 5).
The apostle Paul went against the “light” of the brotherhood:“And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem….And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:12).
The apostle Paul relied more on the guiding of the Holy Spirit than on the “pillars” of the church:“But of these who seemed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference [not a meeting] added nothing to me” (Gal. 2:6).
The apostle Paul was more concerned with God’s opinion than man’s:“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:4).
Over 20 times the New Testament warns about deception by false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, and deceivers within the church(Matt. 7:15; Rom. 16:18; 1 Cor. 11:19; 2 Cor. 11:13; 2 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4; Col. 2:4,8,16,18; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim 1:6,7; 4:7; 6:3-5,20; 2 Tim. 2:16; 3:13; 2 Pet. 2:1; 3:17) Half the verses speak of these deceivers as teaching legalism. Following any man’s light is risky. We are to check all teaching with scripture (Acts 17:11). We are to try the spirits (1 John 4:1).
The Bible says ministers are to: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2).
The Bible says we are to submit to those ministers as they preach the word: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God” (Heb. 13:7)
Beloved brethren, we want to be obedient and fully surrendered to our Lord Jesus Christ. May God grant us a teachable spirit to be submissive to those ministers who preach the Word to us. May we never yield in subjection for even an hour to those who would “spy out our liberty to bring us into bondage,” and may we be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to allow Him to guide us into all truth as we “search the scriptures daily” to know whether these things are so. Help us with Scriptures. Pray for us. We will love you forever.