Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 24, 1955
NUMBER 41, PAGE 6,10c

We Be Brethren

John D. Barnes, Atlanta, Georgia

Abraham said to his nephew, Lot, ". . . . Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, and between thy herdsmen and my herdsmen; for we be brethren." (Gen. 13:8.) Truly, the greatest privilege one has in this world is that of becoming a Christian. To be a Christian is tantamount to being in Christ, for when one is in Christ, he is a Christian. But to be IN Christ is not enough, we must grow and develop IN Christ, and we can not grow and develop unless we have the proper food. Peter says, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." (1 Peter 1:2.) Then, after awhile, we become, or should, of full age, and have need of strong meat, and no longer milk. "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Heb. 5:14.)

Too many times, we "who ought to be teachers" have "need that one teach us again" and have "become such as have need of milk." And especially so when it comes to dealing with the church, its mission and work. We have yet to learn the valuable lessons taught by the pioneers of 50 or 100 years ago, when the church of our Lord was split, robbed of its power and torn to shreds by the spirit of innovations, and finally resulted in the Christian Church.

I am not writing about cooperation, for there is no question there, but my subject has to do with organizations. The difference between cooperation and organization is the difference between God's wisdom and man's wisdom. "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity." (Phil. 4:15-16.) This was cooperating, but it was not organizing. When Paul traveled among the churches of Galatia, Achaia, and Macedonia taking a collection for the saints in Jerusalem, he was cooperating, but he was not organizing. From the beginning of the reformation until 1849 our brethren were cooperating, but they were not organizing, and the reformation all but circled the globe. But in 1849 they had their first convention, and organized the American Christian Missionary Society, and since then only discord, disruption, division, and now alienation, have followed.

Jesus Christ said to his disciples: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15.) We know therefore, that carrying the gospel to the world is a work of the church. In Ephesians 3:10-11, Paul says, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." From this we learn that it was "God's eternal purpose" that His manifold wisdom should be known by or through the CHURCH. Any device of man, such as the Herald of Truth, missionary societies, ladies aid, etc., to carry the gospel to the world is an intrusion on God's "eternal purpose." Any church or congregation that is not doing all that it can to carry the gospel to the world is ignoring "God's eternal purpose." The Herald of Truth, ladies aid, and all such clap-trap methods of carrying the gospel to the world, were unknown in the apostolic age, and therefore, no part of the "all things" that Christ commanded his apostles. In Colossians 1:23, Paul says, "If so be that ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister." If the church, as it came from the mind of the divine builder, devoid of all religious parasites, could, and did carry the gospel to "every creature which is under heaven" in the apostolic age, why can it not do so today? There can be but one answer — the church of our Lord today is shrouded in ignorance of the New Testament, and draped with religious mistletoe, a foreign substance that sucks the life blood out of everything it fastens itself on. That is exactly what human organizations are doing to the church today. Every church that is loaded with human inventions and devices of man is impotent and cannot carry out "God's eternal purpose." God's work, the work of the church, must be done in God's way, through the church, if we expect God to bless our efforts. If the church fails to carry out God's purpose, or ignores His divine wisdom in executing His "eternal purpose" that is no justification for substituting man's wisdom and devices, Herald of Truth, etc., for carrying out the work of the church. Man can impeach God's wisdom only at his own expense, and to his eternal shame.

In the Gospel Advocate of November 18, 1954, Brother Blank wrote a letter to the editor asking his help in securing a preacher. In the second paragraph, Mr. Blank says, "The kind of man we want may be hard to find. We want a man true to the book, a man who will not shun to preach God's word in love." In the fourth paragraph the brother says, "It seems that some preachers think to make themselves 'prominent' by the persons, institutions, and things they are 'agin.' In paragraph five, he says, "We want a man who is loyal to the Lord and his church rather than to some hobbyist (Brother Tant, JDB) and his paper (The Gospel Guardian, JDB)." I agree with the brother, it will be hard to find such a man. I fail to see how a man can be true to the book, loyal to the Lord and his church, and support such things that are calculated to split the church. It is refreshing to know, however, that there are some good loyal brethren who oppose such things, as the brother suggested in paragraph four. But the Gospel Advocate is sure there are such preachers, because they have given assurance to the elder and sent him a list of all of the hairsplitters amongst us.

Abraham said to Lot ". . .. let there be no strife between thee and me, for we be brethren." I blush with shame when I read some of the articles written by some of my brethren about some of my brethren, and some of the things they say about some of my brethren, and the things they would like to do to the church. For proof, see the article by E. R. Harper, GG, Nov. 25, 1954, pages 8-12, and the Gospel Advocate, Dec. 9 editorial.

In his feeble attempt (?) to prove (?) the scripturalness of the Herald of Truth, Brother E. R. Harper has lost all love for brethren whom he formerly loved, and has stated publicly that he will not write in another paper that Brother Tant has affiliation with. He is willing to see the church split again rather than give up, or defend publicly, the unscriptural position he has taken. The Gospel Advocate will give him all the support and publicity he desires, and will even brand and stigmatize, every gospel preacher among us, as unsound, hairsplitters, and church-busters, and would ostracize all who will not, yea, can not, endorse that unscriptural organization. "Oh blush, where is thy shame."

I will close this piece with a statement from Moses E. Lard's Quarterly, Vol. 1, page 332.

"From this it will soon proceed to other innovations; and the work of innovating once fairly commenced, no stop can be put to it till ruin ensues. And then the spirit which precedes and fosters these innovations is a most dangerous spirit — dangerous because cruel, intractable, and unreasonable. It is cruel because it is ready to immolate everything that in the least stands in the way of its wicked work; (this the G.A. is ready to do — Dec. 9, issue, JDB) intractable because it will not yield on even one tittle of its innovations; and unreasonable, because it will neither heed the voice of God or man. Indeed when a church has once introduced an organ — (ization, JDB), we believe it to be true, as a general rule, of those members who take the lead in the work, that they will suffer its Bible to be torn to shreds before they will part from their pet. When once it sets in to accomplish a certain object, accomplish that object it will though ruin marks every step in its advance."

This was said by Brother Lard in his opposition to instrumental music in the church, but the same spirit is manifested by those who are in the lead of the Herald of Truth and all such organizations. If Moses E. Lard were alive today, I suppose he would have a "yellow feather."