Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 6, 1951

Which Is The Approved Course In Mission Work?

M. F. Manchester, Rising Star, Texas

Much has been written in the past in regard to approved examples in the New Testament for certain practices, and we believe that it is in order to find an approved example for doing mission work.

Paul declares that the Scriptures: "Thoroughly furnish the man of God, unto every good work." (2 Tim. 3:17) Preaching the gospel to all the world is a good work, and we believe that the word of God not only tells us to preach the gospel, but also gives us the how, in regard to sending support to those in the mission field.

The church in Philippi sent their money direct to the apostle Paul. "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 is an approved example, and one that we can safely follow in sounding forth the word of truth today. Did the church in Philippi evolve this plan of sending direct to the preacher on the field? Was it like building a church house, or a house for the preacher to live in? If it was their own judgment in the matter as some seem to think, then we can say oh well, that is the way they did it, but we have a better plan; a plan that is up to date and in line with our modern age.

Moreover if sending direct was just a matter of judgment on the part of the Philippians it would leave the door open for the churches today to choose whatever course they thought best, but we deny that it was just a matter of judgment on their part. We believe that the Holy Spirit had something to do with their sending direct. Will anyone deny that he did not?

We have given the approved New Testament example of sending direct to the preacher on the field. Now let us consider the course that some are contending for today. That course is called by them "sponsored cooperation," and great efforts have been made to prove such scriptural, but each one has failed because there is no such example in the New Testament. NOT ONE. Antioch sent help to the needy in Judea (Acts 11:27-30), but where do we read of the contributing churches? That is churches that contributed to Antioch for them to forward on to Judea, as the sponsoring church. This is the kind of example that is needed.

Paul gave orders to the churches of Galatia to lay by in store on the first day of the week, that the proceeds might be sent to the poor saints in Jerusalem; he also gave the same command to the church in Corinth. (1 Cor. 16:1-2) Where is the "sponsoring church set up" found in these Scriptures? In verse three he says, "And when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem." Corinth was to select messengers (not a sponsoring church) to carry their bounty to Jerusalem. This is just another case of sending direct to the ones who were in need. No doubt that Antioch was still a great church, and had in the past sent help to the needy in Judea, and if the sponsoring plan was being used then, is it not strange that Paul did not tell them to send their money to them? Antioch was near the land of Judea, and could have overseen this work of benevolence, or become the sponsoring church for all the churches that were having a part in this good work, but such was not God's plan.

But some one asks: what about the one brother that was chosen by all the churches to help oversee their funds? "And we have sent with him (Titus) the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; and not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us, to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your mind." (2 Cor. 8:18, 19)

A very proper question just here is: why was this brother chosen by the churches to help oversee the funds they were sending to Jerusalem? Was it their own plan, or had Paul instructed them to choose a brother to send? This, like the question of sending direct to the preacher, is of major importance, because if Philippi evolved the plan of sending direct and the churches chose this brother the same way, then we repeat that there are no restrictions on how to spread the gospel. All the churches of our time except say ten, could send all their contributions for mission work to these ten churches, to oversee, and send on to the workers in the foreign field. We believe that Paul instructed the churches to select this brother to help oversee their funds, because he implies as much in verses 20 and 21 of 2 Cor. 8, "Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance, which is administered by us; providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." These verses prove that Paul told the churches to select this brother.

Does the fact that Paul promoted this work, give a congregation the right to set itself up as a sponsoring church for hundreds of other churches? Was Paul not an apostle? Did he not speak the commandments of the Lord? (1 Cor. 14:37) Was it not a part of his work to tell the churches what to do, and also how to do it? Listen! "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." (Phil. 4:9) Note: None of the churches heard or received from Paul instructions for any one, or a dozen of them, to become sponsoring churches. I think there are honest and good men on both sides of this question, and our investigation should not be based on what we have done in the past, but on what we learn from the book of the Lord. May God help us to go unto all the world, and may he also help us to go His way.

The churches are likened by the Lord to candlesticks, (Rev. 1:20) and we ask; by what authority can one church become the candlestick, or a part of one, for all the other churches?

The church in Philippi gives us a good idea as to how each church is a candlestick. "That ye may be blameless and harmless, as the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life." (Phil. 2:16, 17) Let each congregation hold out the candle (God's word) is God's plan, and we do not believe it can be improved upon.

Brethren if I am wrong I am willing to be set right. And let us pray that there shall be no division among us, and that God our Father will help us to see the truth, and carry out His grand work in His appointed way.