Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 2, 1964

Church Trouble!

Ardie P. Brown, Jr.

Quite frequently we hear about this congregation or that congregation that is having trouble. We cannot think of any trouble that would be worse than for those who claim to be God's people, bought with the blood of Christ, to be having strife, turmoil and confusion in their midst. All to often, however, this is so. Why? Is it because every member of the congregation is doing his or her best to be what God wants him to be? Is it because every member is faithful in every sense of the word? Is it because the local preacher is preaching the truth right down the line as God would have it? This writer is persuaded that none of these are the causes of church trouble. In fact, it is the contrary of all the aforementioned that usually generates all manner of difficulties among God's people. Certainly the primary problem is that somewhere in the midst of a problem in the church, Divine Authority has been disrespected, and what God's Word says has been overlooked.

The usual atmosphere that characterizes these church squabbles is one of heated tempers, flashes of opinion, and the hurling of vituperations from one party to the other, either two or more, and breaking into segments of "pro" and "con" and everyone lining up with their champion. God's basis for unity among His people has been ruled out or forgotten about, but it still remains the same; and there will be no unity as far as Jehovah is concerned until the terms of His will are met. Read carefully and prayerfully John 17:20-22, 1 Cor. 1:10, Eph, 4:1-2, Matt. 4:4, John 8:31-32, and John 12:48.

On occasions there may arise differences between the preacher and the elders, or there may be a dissension existing between preacher, elders, and the congregation. If it is a matter of faith, Divine Truth will settle it once and for all. If it is a matter of opinion, the party responsible for causing trouble and dividing God's people on such a basis will lose his soul in a Devil's Hell unless he repents and gets right with God. It is a sad disappointment to hear about preachers who will not preach the truth, or to hear about elders who will not let them. If the elders, or anyone else, have to tell a gospel preacher how to preach, he hasn't got any business preaching in the first place. He needs to sit and listen, and study the Word of God a while yet. Any elders or group of men (or women for that matter) who try to dictate what a preacher should preach, as long as he is preaching the truth, need to do a lot of soul searching, diligent praying, and spend many hours in the book of God to find out what it is all about.

I submit this final thought to the reader. If a gospel preacher is not preaching or practicing the truth, if he will not repent and make it right, he needs to be removed from the pulpit. If elders object to the truth being preached, and uphold error in any sense, they have disqualified themselves, for the same thing that made them elders will break them, (the qualifications); and they need to repent and correct their mistakes. If any church member is practicing error and/or objects to the truth being preached, unless he repents, he needs to be dealt with as a contentious brother and withdrawn from by God's faithful children.

I do not propose to have the wisdom of Solomon or to have the answers to every problem that may arise. I do believe, however, if the simple plan we have outlined, based upon God's Word is followed, it will go a long way toward preventing and healing a lot of problems.

— P. O. Box 9866, Houston, Texas, 77015