Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 7, 1951

The All-Sufficiency Of The Church

James W. Adams, Longview, Texas

The world is full of institutions of every kind religious and otherwise, but there is one institution that is infinitely superior to all others, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was born in the mind of God, (Eph. 3:10, 11) built by the Christ, (Mt. 16:18) purchased with His blood, (Acts 20:28) and filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22) It is the body of Christ, (Eph. 1:22, 23) the temple of God, (Eph. 2:21, 22) and the adorable bride of our blessed Redeemer. (Eph. 5:23-33) Jesus loved it, gave himself for it, nourishes anti cherishes it, and will one day have it presented to himself in glory. In it, man is reconciled to God, prepared for heaven, and finally glorified in eternity. An institution of such character and dignity is worthy of the "full measure of our devotion,' and to contemplate it in the light of Inspiration is to sing with the poet:

"I love thy kingdom, Lord, the house of thine abode;

The church our blest Redeemer saved with His own precious blood.

I love thy church, O, God! Her walls before thee stand,

Dear, as the apple of thine eye, and graven on thy hand.'

An institution according to Webster is: "An organized society, established either by law or the authority of individuals, for promoting any object public or social." The church of our Lord is an institution in the sense that it is a society, organized and set up by the authority of Christ, for the accomplishment and promotion of specific purposes.

Three Essentials Of An Institution

There are at least three essentials characteristic of every institution. (1) The authority which creates and maintains it. (2) The object for which it exists. (3) The organization which characterizes it. The object or purpose of an institution is set forth in its charter. Its organization is set forth in its constitution and by-laws. That the church of the New Testament was set up by the authority of heaven should be axiomatic with all students of the Bible. (Eph. 3:1-10; Mt. 16:18) It exists, therefore, by Divine authority. Its objects or purpose (mission) is clearly set forth in its Divine charter, the New Testament, namely; to preach the gospel to the lost, perfect the saved, and to minister to the needy. (Eph. 4:11-16; Mt. 28:18-20) That the New Testament is the Divine charter and constitution and by-laws of the Lord's church is manifest from such passages as: 2 Peter 1:3; 2 John 9; 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Tim, 3:16, 17.

The organization of the church of God is just as clearly delineated in its constitution and by-laws as its authority and object. The congregation is the only unit of organization. There is no earthly ecclesiastical tie that binds together two or more congregations. The word "church" is used in a universal and local sense. In its universal sense, the word comprehends all of the redeemed of earth. (Mt. 16:18) In its local sense, it includes the membership of one congregation of believers. (1 Co 1:1, 2) The universal church has no earthly organization. All the instructions and commands of the Lord to his church are addressed either directly to local congregations as such or it is tacitly understood that they are to be followed and obeyed by such. Whatever the church as such does has to be done by local congregations. Many of the corruptions of Christianity have sprung from a corruption of the Divine organization of the Lord's church growing out of a misconception of the church universal. In New Testament days, the local congregation was autonomous, self-governing, under a plurality of elders, bishops, or pastors. Elders, bishops, or pastors are three terms descriptive of the same group of individuals. The term elder suggests their maturity. The term bishop affirms their authority, that they are the "overseers' of the flock. The word pastor describes their function with reference to the edification and salvation of their charge, that is; they are to feed, lead, and protect the souls over whom they watch. These terms are applied to the same group of men both in Acts 20:17-31 and 1 Peter 5:1-4. Out of the corruption of this simple form of church government has developed Roman Catholicism with its universal earthly bishop and its orders of the clergy, and from it has come in various degrees of corruption the unscriptural organizations of the Protestant denominations of the world. In New Testament times, the Son of God was the only and all-sufficient head of the church, each congregation was an independent and self-governing unit under Christ and amenable only to His law and to the oversight of its own elders, bishops or pastors. Any movement, work, or enterprise, however laudable, the accomplishment of which tends to endanger the organization of the Lord's church should be viewed with suspicion, engaged in with caution, (if at all) and inspected continuously in search of the germs of apostasy.

Summing up at this point for clarity, we have before us in this article the church of the New Testament, a. Divine institution, charged with a Divine mission, and. endowed with a Divine organization. It bears repeating that the heaven-born church of God possesses an organization created by the wisdom and authority of Jehovah for the accomplishment of divinely authorized purposes.

The Church Is All-Sufficient

"Sufficiency' means: "Enough; equal to the end proposed.' "All' means: "Wholly; completely; entirely; in the highest degree.' The term "all-sufficiency' means, therefore, "Wholly, completely, entirely, and in the highest degree enough or equal to the end proposed.' It is my firm conviction that the church as God made it is all-sufficient with reference to the accomplishment of the mission with which God has charged it.

There is a fundamental consideration, an irrefutable affirmation, an unquestionable proposition, rooted in the essential attributes of Jehovah himself, that should always be laid as the corner stone in a discussion of the all sufficiency of the church of God, namely; whatever God institutes for specific purposes is always wholly adequate for the accomplishment of the objects for which it was instituted. Two examples will suffice to illustrate this truth. (1) The law of Moses as God gave it was perfectly adapted to the accomplishment of the purpose for which God ordained it. The expressions, "weak through the flesh,' (Rom. 8:1-4) "faultless' (Heb. 8:68) and others like them, have been misunderstood by many. The law of Moses was relatively weak and faulty, that is; weak and faulty with reference to the Jewish conception of its purpose. They thought that it was a system of redemption. God, however, never intended that the law should redeem from sin. According to Inspiration, it was "added because of transgressions' (Gal. 3:19) and was "a schoolmaster' to bring the Jews to Christ. (Gal. 3:24, 25) For the accomplishment of these purposes it was wholly adequate. To the fulfillment of this object it was completely adapted hence all-sufficient. (2) The gospel of Christ as God gave it is perfectly adapted to and wholly adequate for the accomplishment of the purposes of God concerning man as God made him and as sin has corrupted him. "The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.' (Rom. 1:16) The gospel might not make a man rich, educated, cultured, or popular, but it will save his soul from sin and death, transform him into the likeness of Christ, and prepare him for heaven. The all-sufficiency of both the law and the gospel with reference to the accomplishment of their God ordained purposes is rooted in the wisdom, benevolence, and power of God. Question the sufficiency of either with reference to the accomplishment of its God ordained object and the character and power of Jehovah Himself are challenged.

The reader is now ready for the conclusion toward which this entire article has been moving. From it there is no escape for those who believe the Bible and revere the character and power of God. It is simply this: The church of the New Testament as God made it possesses an organization perfectly adapted to and wholly adequate for the accomplishment of the mission with which God has charged it. Further articles will deal with the application of this truth in our present day activities in religion. Watch for them!