Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 27, 1961
NUMBER 12, PAGE 2,11a

The Gus Nichols' Story

Roy S. Fudge, Belle Glade, Florida

(Note: This paper is prepared upon request of a brother who is studying the present controversies in the church. It is in response to an article in the Gospel Advocate of April 20, 1%1, in which brother Nichols undertook to answer some questions on current issues.)

The question asked brother Nichols was, "What principal issues are involved in the present disturbances which face members of the church"?

Brother Nichols stated that the church is all sufficient to do all that God intended for it to do, but many do not understand what this means. He accuses the "anti" brethren of believing the church should function as a home. The {home} cannot be a church, neither can the church be a home. To this I heartily agree. "They are two separate institutions." Again he states that "widows and orphans are entitled to a home — family relationship." (Psa. 68:5, 6) With this I also agree.

God authorized the church to relieve the needy. (1 Tim. 5:16) The word "relieve" is not specific but generic. The thing that brother Nichols overlooks is that the widow is specific "widow indeed" and the institution, "church" is specific. The place where the relief is given is not important but the one to be relieved and the one giving the relief is important since God specified each of these. The church is not to relieve the institution but the individual. Where does brother Nichols get the idea that the church is to relieve and the home is to receive and apply the relief? I suppose from this argument that the individual who relieves his relative would have to give the relief to some one else and they in turn receive and apply that relief. The church is a spiritual institution and is not in competition with the home which is a temporal institution. But at the same time the church is to care for the needs of the saints in a physical way. (1 Cor. 16:1-3) The church and the home "can go hand in hand and be separate just as the church and the state." If this be true then why condemn the Catholics for wanting the state to support the church? Would not the same principle be involved? The relationship is not between institution and institution, but between institution and individual. The individual can support the church, home, or state with his money, but I deny that the church can support either home or state from its treasury. "The 'anti brethren have no orphan homes for the church to support." If they did have, it would be unscriptural for the church to do so. Many of the "anti" brethren do have orphans and widows that are being supported by the individuals themselves. They are cared for in homes — family relationships, as God placed them. (Psa. 68:5, 6) This is not the cold, formal institutional care. "They are negative." Indeed they are negative to an unscriptural practice, but very positive as to the care of the needy. They simply do not sound a trumpet before them in giving alms. Again brother Nichols states, "God has not legislated where the needy is to be cared for." This is true, but misses the point entirely. God has legislated who the church is to care for, and specifies in every case of church action that it is the needy saints. Never is an institution given as the re- cipient, either the private home or any other. "Homes were not excluded when relief was given in New Testament times." (Acts 2:44-46; 4:34-36) Notice Acts 2:45 says, "They sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need." Is man and home the same? Does any man exclude home? Then notice again Acts 4:35. Does "any one" have reference to homes or individuals? In verse 34 "any that lacked" has reference to the same as "any one" in verse 35. If this was homes that lacked or received, then it would follow that homes sold their lands and houses to meet this need. No, this was individuals, not homes. Homes are excluded in these verses.

A "new doctrine" is "that the church can't take care of orphans at all." Until someone will give me scripture for the church to cast for orphans I shall hold to the "new doctrine." I know that we as Christians are to accept our responsibility in helping anyone in need, including fatherless and widows. (Jas. 1:27) If there should be a cyclone come and leave people dying or in deep need, would it be reasonable to let them wait until the church could make a decision to help, and how much they would do? Or would it not be better to do it God's way and each one give as he had the ability? (Gal. 6:10) In doing this we would let our light shine so as to glorify God. (Mt. 5:16)

Bro. Nichols seems to think there is one pattern to fit two different works of th.: church. Why would there not be a different pattern for each work of the church? There is a pattern of sound words given us, and we are to hold fast this pattern. (2 Tim. 1:13) In works of benevolence one church helped the poor saints by sending to the hands of the elders. (Acts 11:29, 301 Churches cooperated in sending relief to the saints in Jerusalem. (1 Cor. 16:14) The churches were to choose their own messengers. (1 Cor. 16:3) This shows how the churches of the New Testament carried out their works of benevolence, when it was one church helping another. Benevolence within a congregation is given in Acts 6:1-7. The work here was under the oversight of the Apostles. The people selected seven men to do the work or see that the needs were supplied. These men were not, as some suppose, "deacons" of the Jerusalem church. They were deacons only in the sense of being servants selected to do a special work. Their qualifications were not the same as given for deacons of the church. (1 Tim. 3:8-13) Therefore we cannot say that the physical part of the work is under the deacons and the spiritual part under the elders. The Holy Spirit made elders overseers. (Acts 20:28) Elders did oversee the benevolent work of their congregation. (Acts 11:29, 30)

Now, what is the pattern given in evangelism? Let us notice the scriptures cited by bro. Nichols. The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to Antioch. (Acts 11:22-26) They also sent others with a message to Antioch. (Acts 15:22-32) A plurality of churches supported Paul at Corinth that he might do service to the church there. (2 Cor. 11:8) Then he says, "we do not know whether these funds were sent directly to Paul or to the church for him. Paul said, "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you." Then in the latter part of verse 9 he said, "and in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself." Paul said he took wages from other churches. Brother Nichols says maybe he did and maybe lie didn't. Brethren, I prefer to believe what Paul said. I fail to find any example of one church sending funds to another to support any man in preaching the gospel. In Philippians 4:15 Paul says that the church at Philippi had fellowship with him in the matter of giving and receiving. This was direct to the man since Paul says no other church had fellowship in this matter. In the New Testament times churches sent to the evangelist to help in other fields. There is no example of one church sending funds to another church to send to the evangelist. Whether a man is speaking from the pulpit, over the radio, or TV would make no difference so far as the principle is concerned. If a church wants to support a man in either field of evangelism it has that right. But it does not have a right to assume a work and then call for other churches to send her their money to pay the bill. I just believe even brother Nichols can see the difference in these things.

Brother Nichols gives Gal. 6:10 to prove that the church is a benevolent institution. This passage has no reference to the church as an institution of any kind. This is speaking of individual action. Just read the first ten verses of this chapter and see who is under consideration. Why did he not give some passage that would prove his point? Is it because it might prove too much for him? Every passage that shows that the church is a benevolent institution also points out its benevolence was to the needy saints.

Again he says that the "anti" brethren think that if a church sent $100 to a weak church to help it in its work, that it could use $50 for benevolence but could not use the other $50 in a radio program. If the weak church was in need for benevolence and the $100 was sent for that purpose, it would be wrong for the weak church to misapply half the money sent. If the weak church was not in need it would be unscriptural for the church to send them the contribution in the first place. The only times we find contributions being made to one church from another is when there was a definite need within the receiving church. To go beyond this would be going beyond what is written. (2 John 9)

"The church should avoid 'anti-ism' and do whatever is expedient in matters of generic authority." Brother Nichols does not say what is meant by "anti-ism" here. If "anti" means against, as I have always been taught, then brother Nichols is very much "anti" himself. He has just expressed himself as being "anti" one class theory, "anti" one glass or cup theory, and "anti" order-of-worship theory. If this does not make him "anti" I know not what would. I am also "anti" all these things as well as any other unscriptural practices or doctrines. I really don't think he meant for the church to avoid "anti-ism" in its true sense. All this talk about the "anti" brethren is to cloud the issue and to prejudice people to the point where they will not study for themselves. Let us all heed the admonition given by Paul to Timothy to "Study to show thyself approved unto God." "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Thess. 5:21)