Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 21, 1963
NUMBER 41, PAGE 2,12b

Authority In Religion - (No. 3)

Asa M. Plyler

We have pointed out in former articles that we, as the people of God, do have Bible authority for what we do; and that we are commanded to be able to point this out from the word of God. "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." (1 Pet. 3:15)

The first and great obligation the Lord has laid on his people is to carry the gospel of Christ to all the world. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:15-16) "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph. 3:10) The entire New Testament story, from Pentecost to the close, shows how the early church carried the story of the cross Ito all the world, and that they did in less than forty years. No additional society, other than the congregation, was ever used to accomplish the work of the church, either in edification, benevolence, or evangelism.

But there are some who would try to find plausible reasons for the existence of many man-made movements and societies attaching themselves to the church, and who tell us that the Lord has not told us "how" to do everything he expects us to do. This theory is as mealy-mouthed as old Satan himself. On such a pretext Satan could bring into the church everything he desires. The statement that Jesus commanded us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel, but did not tell us how to go" indicates that they do not seem to realize that it is not the "going" but the gospel which is to save the world. They attach as much importance to the going as they do to the gospel. We know by reading the New Testament that Paul and the other apostles preached; but we know little about their "going" to the places where they preached. The going was incidental; the gospel was imperative.

Again, we are told, "The Lord has never told us to build meeting houses, baptistries, class-rooms, etc.; neither has he told us to use song-books, printed Bibles and other helps." The poor men who make these old, worn-out arguments have looked through Satan's colored glasses so long that their knowledge has become blurred and hazy. If they truly cannot see any difference between the thing commanded and some incidentals involved in the doing of that thing, then may God have mercy on them! Consider: God has told us to meet together. This is a command. Such a meeting together implies a "place of meeting." The house is a convenience, but is not an imperative. Baptism is a command; a place to baptize is essential to the command. But a baptistry is a convenience. Singing is commanded; words and guides (music notes) are essential. But song-books are a convenience. Now it does seem that any six-year-old child in the first grade could see these things. And I truly believe my preaching brethren could, too, if they were motivated solely by a desire to know and do the things they read in the Bible.

About a hundred years ago some of our "on the march" brethren concocted the idea that the church, as such, could never carry the gospel to all the world. Because of their desire for something bigger and more effective than the church, the missionary society was born. This movement, as all of us know, resulted in a division in the church. Only a small remnant was saved from the apostasy. This division was quite in keeping with what always happens when man seeks to improve on God's plan for doing things. Every such action by man has resulted in apostasy, and final defeat and destruction.

It is now my honest conviction that while these movements and organizations which brethren have brought in and attached to the church are evil and destructive, they are not so bad as the evil spirit and attitude that has grown up in those who have developed them and try to defend them. For half a century I have lived among denominational people and their preachers, and have never had any special difficulty in getting along with them. They generally know what I teach about the Bible and religious matters, and most of them respect me and hold me in honor as a friend. If I ask them for Bible authority for some point of doctrine they hold, they will either try to give it, or else will confess that they do not have (and often claim they do not need) Bible authority for that particular thing. They look disappointed, but they do not become angry or ugly. And not in the last forty years have I had them to call me some ugly name that they know I resent.

I wish I could say as much for my own brethren! There is not a reason in the world for any faithful -Mid of God to resent, and act ugly when asked for Bible authority for what he does and teaches. If we really loved the Lord, we would want to do and teach exactly what is commanded; and for some one to point out to us wherein we are lacking in this would show that one to be a friend and not a foe.

Several times in life I have heard some old filthy-mouthed sinner, who was lacking in both words and knowledge to express his feelings on some point, use a lot of offensive and course cuss words that would make any decent person shudder and feel ashamed. And when I hear some of my own brethren, who are unable to give Bible authority for what they do, get mad and use a lot of foul and filthy epithets ("anti," hobby-rider, crank, Sommerite, legalist, etc.), I think of those old, cussing sinners. To hurl shell nasty names at some honest seeker for truth, seems to relieve some brethren and get them out of pressure. This attitude seems to me to be worse than that of the poor depraved an untaught sinner who resorts to cursing to express his bad feelings. If my brethren would do like some religious leaders that I have seen, and just plead "nolo contendere," and be done with it, their attitude would be much better.

Brethren, let us not forget that there was once a wicked city which God determined to destroy; yet in answer to the pleading of one of his servants, he promised to save the city if as many as ten righteous people could be found in it. When they were not found, the city was destroyed. (Gen. 18:32) When those among us who have been known as faithful servants of the Lord come to the unhappy state that Satan's venom lurks in their hearts and spews out all over them as they fling their poison at their own brethren, the world is in a bad shape indeed.

A boat will never go down with the water on the outside; it is when water gets inside the boat that it sinks. Likewise the church will never go down if we keep the devil outside; it is when he gets inside that trouble and sorrow and heartaches come. Those among us who teach that we do not need Bible authority for all we do have made their beds with the reptile that crawls on his belly, and who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. May God help us all to trust the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding, but "back to the Bible for it all."

— Parrish, Alabama