Churches of Christ seek to grow both in spirit and in number. If a congregation is growing, then it will have people in attendance at varying maturity levels. Hence, an education program and preaching ought to be careful to include regular teaching on the fundamentals of New Testament Christianity. If topics such as the design of baptism, the identifying marks of the New Testament church, the frequency of which to observe the Lord’s Supper, and others along these lines have become mundane to a congregation, then most likely they are not evangelizing. True Christians never tire of hearing the fundamentals preached in a sermon. In fact, they become distressed if they do not hear these preached forcefully and frequently. Of course, there are those who indeed are prepared for the meat of the Word (Hebrews 5:12-14), but an indicator of that readiness is the realization that there are those who still seek the milk of the Word as well (1 Peter 2:2). We must always be aware that there are those who need to be reminded of the fundamentals (Jude 3), fortified with the fundamentals for their own protection (Romans 16:18), and even be rebuked with the fundamentals (Titus 1:9) to save their souls.
There are several excellent topics covered in this book in a very scholarly but readable manner. One of my personal favorites is “The Faithful Preacher Must Be Able to Run With Horses” which he delivered at the Harding Graduate School of Religion in 1969. He compares Jeremiah 12:5, “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses.” In this chapter he identifies several horses of spiritual darkness that the preacher must be able to run against—materialism, indifference, worldliness, liberalism, and self. It is an excellent encouragement to preachers and all of us. Turner observes:
As was the case with Jeremiah, so is the case with the preacher—and or every Christian for that matter. The faithful preacher of today must be prepared mentally and spiritually to run with horses. This necessity has been the case in every age, but it especially the case in this age. The present spiritual climate—or rather the want of it—projects the fact that without a doubt the preacher of today faces many grave trials as well as many alluring temptations. Already certain well qualified preachers of our personal acquaintance have become so wearied by running with the footmen that they have given up the full-time ministry. At times there are young men who are commencing a study for the entering of the ministry. Jesus said: “No man having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). – (Pages 3-4.)
Other subjects in this book include evidences for the resurrection of Jesus, NT interpretations of OT prophecy, matters of faith and opinion, the observance of the Lord’s Supper is only on the first day of the week, instrumental music in worship is sinful, the plan of salvation, the identifying marks of the NT church, unity, and not conforming to worldliness. In his discussion on Christians and worldliness he makes a very salient observation—“…in this alluring, comfortable, and affluent society, Christian have no burning desire to go to heaven. They like things just as they are now here on earth.” (Page 197). That was written in 1970, years before a certain politician laid claim of inventing the Internet. Can anyone doubt that these words are even more true today with conveniences we have that were not thought of nearly forty years ago?
Dr. Rex A. Turner founded and served as President of Alabama Christian College for many years. He lectured and wrote widely. As part of the college’s 30th anniversary celebration, he was requested to collect in book form representative samples of his sermons, lectures and articles the school wanted to print in his honor and benefit Christian education. Due to the rapid response to advanced orders the volume was released in 1972 and is still available. The Alabama Christian College was among the first to utilize modern technology so students could study remotely for advanced degrees in ministry. The institution was known as Southern Christian University for many years and one of the early institutions to offer the doctorate. It is now known as Ambridge University. The university chartered the Turner School of Theology in 1999 in honor of Rex and Opal Turner’s sacrifice and years of service to the university. Brother Turner passed away February 13, 2001.
This is an excellent book to give to someone who is looking for reading to help fortify his faith. Our hope is that there are many readers of this work for years to come. May we never grow weary of the fundamentals and be able to run with horses.
Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 16, No. 12, December 2009, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.