Among iris fanciers, the older versions of irises are known as “historic” or “heirloom” irises. They may be forty or a hundred years old or more. In most cases, these varieties are less prone to diseases than the newer, fancier versions.
Their form is usually simple. No ruffled edges or beards that separate from the petals, forming spiky horns. Some heirlooms have the same color on the three petals that point upward, or uprights, as they do on the downward pointing petals, or falls.
Others are two-toned or even two separate colors, such as yellow uprights with red falls. Many are fragrant beyond belief!
I like the name “heirloom,” as it is a comforting word. I have very few heirlooms passed down from my family, and I like to think of the people who have cultivated these irises as family members in a way that connects us.
They kept these varieties alive in their various gardens to pass down through the generations.
Jesus promised Peter that death would not kill the church (Matthew 16:18).
“Hades” is more accurately translated as “the grave” rather than “hell” as the King James Version puts it.
This verse doesn’t teach that Satan has no power over the church. Paul said he was destroying the church (Galatians 1:13). The church can definitely be hurt by Satan, but neither he nor death can destroy it completely.
The church cannot be wiped off the earth. As long as there are people who read and follow the Bible, the church will remain. Sometimes it may be strong, other times in history it has barely been noticeable. It may have degenerated into denominationalism, but there has always been a remnant that has remained true.
One of the true beauties of the church of Christ is that it has popped up in places that have never been touched by missionaries, but where people have read the Bible and decided to follow it.
Like the heirloom irises, these churches may differ slightly in small details, but they are simple reproductions of the church found in the New Testament.
Time and again, Christians are discovered whose only influence was the Bible. Like the DNA in the iris rhizomes, the building blocks for Christianity are contained in the scriptures. It will produce after its kind, down through the ages.
We don’t know how some of the churches in Africa came to be. Perhaps a Bible was left behind by a denominational missionary in a distant land. But the plant that sprouts from its pages does not resemble a denomination, but the same church of Christ that was described in the pages of the Bible.
It gives us pause to think about why it takes an addition to the Bible to create a denomination, but without the additions of mankind, only New Testament churches are created.
Others have come to the faith in spite of the corrupting influence of denominations, and even written out documents describing why they were dissolving their associations with these man-made bodies and returning to the simple gospel that was originally given.
Still others had been exposed to the simple truths of the Bible and followed its teachings, and then found out that there is a larger body of believers in the churches of Christ in America.
“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15, NASB).