Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1960

Has God Specified The Tools?

Lindsay A. Allen Sr.

In the June issue of GOSPEL DEFENDER Malcolm Hill has an article entitled "Caring for the Needy as Simple as Noah Building the Ark." The author labors to show that since God did not specify the tools Noah was to use to build the ark, leaving these things to Noah's choice and wisdom, likewise, God has commanded us to care for the needy and has not specified the "tools" (place, care etc.) we are to use to carry out this command. Therefore, according to the author, we are at liberty to set up any kind of human arrangement or institution in order to carry out God's command to care for those in need.

The author begins by saying "brethren have continually asked for book, chapter, and verse for the establishing of such homes as Tennessee Orphan Home, Childhaven, and other homes among us." I do not know where the author of this article gathered this information or who these "brethren" are of whom he speaks. I have both read and heard a number of discussions on these matters and I must confess that have never heard a single request for "book, chapter, and verse for establishing" orphan homes, homes for the aged, rest homes, hospitals, or any other kind of charitable or benevolent institution. We are at liberty to establish as many of these institutions as they wish and may do so. The author misses the point. This is not a matter of controversy among brethren today. The thing with which we are concerned is this: where is the "book, chapter, and verse for the establishing" of any kind of institution or organization through which the New Testament church is to operate and fulfill its divine mission? We are asking for the "book, chapter, and verse" where any New Testament church during apostolic times performed its work of evangelism, benevolence, or edification through any human institution. The real issue is this: is the church of Christ all-sufficient and fully equipped to do all the work God has assigned it or must it depend upon human institutions through which to accomplish its work and fulfill its mission? Let the brother answer.

Coming to the incident of Noah and the ark and the benevolent work of the church, the writer has the following to say: "Caring for orphans is just as simple as Noah's building the ark. A brief comparison will reveal such. (1) God told Noah to build the ark. (Gen 6:14) This was a matter of faith. God had plainly told him to do it. God has set forth plainly that His people are to care for the needy. (Jas. 1:27; Matt. 25:33-46; Gal. 5:10) Hence, caring for the needy is a matter of faith. (2) God's command to Noah to build the ark would of necessity demand that he have some kind of tools with which to work. We are not able to determine exactly what kind he used, but he evidently used some. Who would be so foolish as to ask, 'Where did he get his authority for using these tools?' Included in the command was the authority to use the tools necessary to accomplish the command, God has commanded his people to care for the needy. This command of necessity demands that tools are necessary. The needy must have a home. Needy children must have someone to watch over them, etc. Now, would anyone be so foolish as to ask where we get the authority for doing such? The very fact that God demanded that His people care for the needy would of itself include the tools with which they are to perform the work."

Since "caring for orphans is just as simple as Noah's building the ark" it is rather strange that the author missed the point and made the wrong application. Let us study and think for a moment. God commanded Noah to build the ark and, so far as we know, gave no command or directions concerning the number and kinds of tools Noah was to use to carry out this command. The absence of any instructions concerning tools gave Noah the liberty to choose his own tools with which to work. However, let it be remembered that Noah's liberty was ONLY in the realm of tools. He did not have the authority to build ANOTHER ark, nor was he at liberty to alter the plan which God had given him for the construction of the ark. Let us keep clearly in mind the distinction between the ark he was instructed to build and the choice of tools he was to use.

In the same manner God has charged the church with taking care of certain of its own, (Tim. 5:16) and has not specified the "tools" to be used to carry out this command. By this we mean that God has not been specific regarding the details such as the place, type of care, personnel etc. to be employed in caring for the needy. The -church is free under its elders to use the type of care and the means necessary to carry out this command. God has left the "how" in the hands of the church. However, this liberty of "tools" does not give us the liberty or the authority to build other organizations and institutions and then turn this work over to them. The lesson is a clear one. Noah was free to select the tools he desired and those best suited to do this work, but he was not free to build ANOTHER ark in which to be saved. We repeat, NOAH'S LIBERTY LAY ONLY IN THE SPHERE OF TOOLS. He must not build additional arks or change the pattern God gave him. Likewise, the church is free in the selection of the "tools" with which to care for the needy, but the church does not have the authority to build other "arks". It is true that "tools" inhere in both commands. However, the writer needs to learn that institutional orphan homes are not tools any more than the ark was a tool. The present controversy is not over "tools." — the how-but over building and maintaining additional "arks" to do the work which God has specifically assigned to the church. May we repeat that such institutions as Tennessee Orphan Home and Child-haven are not mere "tools" but additional organizations which must of necessity select their own tools for caring for those trusted to their care. Surely we would not be so absurd as to say that "tools" must choose their own "tools"!? The controversy is not over the place, type of care and supervision, etc., but over whom shall provide these things. Shall we let the church provide them or shall we turn these matters over to institutions which are subsidized by the church? Let us remember that we may choose the tools but we must not go about building other arks. May we so live and work that it may be said of us as it was of Noah: "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he."