There are identifying marks on everything that we buy. The same is true of everything that we own. Identifying marks also are what we used to tell animals apart. It may be numbers. It might be spots. It could even be scratches that are on our item by which we could identify that item. Dents can also identify an automobile. There may be marks that identify people as well. One could have a birthmark that identifies them. One could have a scar that now identifies them. Identifying marks are all over the place.
This illustration was made by a preacher that died in 1988. His name is G.K. Wallace. This illustration was published in the Fulton County Gospel News. It is a publication of the church of Christ in Mammoth Spring AR. It is sent free of charge if you will send in your complete mailing address and the nine digit zip code. It is a very good paper. Here is the illustration, “In 1942 when I was in Kansas City, someone stole my car. I had a new 1942 model NASH automobile. My car was gone! I did not know which way to turn. So I called the police. When they came they began to ask questions. They asked, “What kind of care is it? What is the name of the car?”
“Suppose I said, “It doesn’t make any difference about a name. Just go find me a car.” They asked, “What model is it? When was it made?” Suppose I said, “It doesn’t make any difference when it was made. Just get me a car. The model is immaterial.” Suppose that they had come back with an old 1914 model. I would have decided it did make a difference, would I not? I suspect that if I had talked to those policemen like that, they would have said, “He is drunk; we had better lock him up.” Yet I can talk to the world about the church and say, “It does not make any difference about the name, makes no difference when it was started, no difference what it does,” and the world says I’m a scholar. If I had talked that way to the police, they would have said I was drunk!
Yes, they have destroyed every identification mark of the church. But let me tell you, you can find the church that Jesus built, if you will get out and look for it in as sensible a manner as those police looked for my car.”
That is a pretty good illustration. We could do the same with a kidnapped victim. Can you hear the interview with the authorities? They will want to know if there is any identifying mark. They will even want to know what kind of clothes that the person was wearing. They will even want to know the size of the clothes. Why – because they will be ways to identify the victim.
One question that is missed on our Bible Correspondence Course is about a name. In lesson number VII the 10th question in the true and false section reads: “The Bible teaches that there is nothing in a name?” Then again in lesson VIII another true and false question reads: Acts 4:12 teaches that there is nothing in a name?” I have often thought about writing a response when one of the students misses one of these questions, “How about signing a check, leaving the rest for me to fill in and send it back to me.” Does that not prove that there is something in a name? But also a name is an identifying mark. The preacher had a NASH automobile. That kind of automobile is neither a Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile nor a Willis. The kind of automobile was an identifying mark. The name the true church wears makes a difference and is an identifying mark but it is not the only way in which to identify the church.
Also the year that the NASH was made identified it was well. It was not a 1940, 1941 or a 1943. The police were not looking for any year model but a 1942. All others could be overlooked because it did not carry the right identifying marks. The same is true with the true church. It only began in one year. Any church that began in another year is not the true church. The church of the Bible began during the “days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44). Those kings were the Romans. The time was the first Pentecost after the resurrection. A church that begin any other time is not the correct church and ought to be disregarded. It is not the correct church just as a NASH that built in any other year would not be the correct automobile.
There are other identifying marks that one might consider. Did the car have a radio? Did the car have a heater? Some of you know that not all automobile made during that time had these items; they were options. If Mr. Wallace’s car had them then it could be identified easily. It Mr. Wallace’s car did not have them then any car that had these options would be excluded from the search. The church has inward identifying marks as well. Does the church have elders, or do the members believe that elders are God established order? If they do not believe that is God’s order then, it is not the correct church. Does the church worship God as He wants? Is there praying, preaching, partaking of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week? Is there giving every first day of the week? Is there singing with the heart and not the accompaniment of a mechanical instrument of music? A church could have 4 out of these 5 and not be the correct church. You see the police might have found the right year model, the correct options but it could be the wrong color. All of these things identified his car. The doing of all the correct items of worship identify the church as the correct church. We must pay close attention to all of these things in order to identify the correct church.
My friends, as we close this year now is the time to make sure that the church that you are attending is the correct church. It is not enough to be close to the correct church it must be the church that is identified in the New Testament. It must be the church over which Christ is the head. It must be the church where her members are washed from their sins in the blood of Jesus Christ and that blood is contacted in baptism. If you need help in finding this church, contact one of the members of this church and they will help you.