Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 18, 1952
NUMBER 20, PAGE 5,9c

The Church And Human Organizations -- No. 3

A. M. Plyler, Jasper, Alabama

As we continue our study of the church and human organizations, let it be forever remembered that we do not and have never contended or protested against the right of human organizations to exist. But we do contend and we contend with all our strength that they have no right to call upon the church of the Lord for support. Nor do they have a God given right to accept money from the church, if in case the leaders of the church have not learned that they are not following Bible authority, in offering to contribute to such institutions.

Again we must remember that the work of the church is soul saving as its primary mission, and secondary the relief of the needy in cases of emergency. This work the church must do; and God has never given men the right to create organizations of their own to do this work and supplant His divine system. This has been done, and wherever it is done the work is transferred from the Lord's divine plan to that of human plans. This is what brought on the dark ages, following the New Testament age. And this is what brought on the division, and digression in the nineteenth century.

It has been set forth by some that the church should support these human organizations, so that the church can control them, lest they become worldly, and finally oppose the church.

Now let us consider this idea, first of all what right has a local congregation got to control anything? Controlling human institutions is certainly not the work of the Lord's church. And at any time when local congregations get in the controlling business, they themselves are worldly; they have departed from divine authority, and certainly anything that they would control would be of the world. If it is the business of the church to control human institutions, then why are the Catholics wrong, in their contention for the Catholic church to control politics? If it is right and proper for the church to control human institutions, why not let the church control politics, the government, and all the activities of the land? If the church controlling worldly institutions will keep them from becoming worldly and corrupt, why not let it have charge of all of them, and go the full length of the whole matter? The church of the Lord never has and never will have divine sanction to control anything but its own work; therefore, let the church function in its own God ordained field, and stay out of the affairs of the institutions of men.

Let us never fear opposition to the church that comes from the outside; the church has never faltered or failed because of opposition from the world. The world has never known of greater persecution than the New Testament church suffered for the first century; did it then prosper? It covered the world in less than forty years. Ah, brother do not forget a boat never goes down because of the water on the outside, neither will the church go down because of the opposition from the outside — it is what gets on the inside that will bring havoc to it.

Others have come up with this contention, that the motives of the human organizations are good, that is to do good works, and that we are admonished to do good unto all men; therefore the churches should support the institutions of men, because their motives are to do good. That kind of reasoning will bring in every dogma and doctrine known to the world. Who is ready to deny that the advocates of the doctrines of men are with good motive? Every thing human, from Catholicism to the Ku-Klux-Klan, is contended for on the grounds that its motives are good. Saul of Tarsus had a good motive when he went out to persecute the church. King Saul had a good motive when he defied the law of God, and brought back king Agag and the sheep and oxen alive. With him sacrifice was a great thing; it was for religious purposes, therefore a good purpose or motive. Uzzah had a good motive, when he put forth his hand to stay the ark from falling (2 Sam. 6:6-7), but see what God did for him. Yes, a man with a good motive died; his name lives today as a monument to the fact that a man can have a good motive, and at the same time die as a rebel against the God of the universe. God put this story in the Bible so that we might live and know that a good motive is not enough, that it takes a good motive plus obedience to the law of God.

God has never considered a man's motives as good when he sought to detour from the word of God, and create and follow a system, or plan, of his own. Man expresses and makes known his sincerity, and motives toward God, by the care that he exercises in following his word. Nothing but a good motive would prompt a man to fear, reverence, and obey the word of God, with all the sincerity of his soul. Brother, you may count your motives as filthy rags unless you follow the word of God.

Some outstanding men among us have proclaimed long and loud, that since the Lord placed godly men (elders) over the church, that they have its oversight and that under their oversight, if and when they see fit, they may contribute from the church treasury, to these human organizations. This is no doubt the most common and popular fallacy of all departures. While it is true that the elders have the oversight of the local congregation of which they are members, their rule and decisions are right only when they follow the divine plan in their work. The fact that they are elders over the church does not make their decisions infallible, they must follow the infallible word of God. It is their business to lead and see that the congregation follows the divine record, instead of deviating from the God given law. They do not constitute a tribunal to make laws for the church, or to lay out regulations to follow. God holds them responsible not for the making of laws for the church, but as to the way they direct the affairs of the church as his law directs. They must recognize that God grants them no liberties to deviate or go beyond His word in their activities as stewards and overseers of the church.

Some people seem to have the idea that the church is something like a pendulum swinging from heaven, that it has a wide area over which to swing — that its work may swung here and there as the elders see fit; with that idea, men can take in anything that they want. Some seem to think that anything that the Lord has not specifically forbidden, crossed out, and legislated against, may by the decision of the elders be supported by the church. That is what put the pope where he is, and that idea is leading us in the direction not of Jerusalem but of Rome. This leads us to the old sectarian theology that anything the Lord has not said "Thou shalt not," and legislated against is all right. And this brings us right back to where the religious world stood when the pioneers launched out upon the slogan, "Where the Bible speaks we will speak, and where the Bible is silent we will be silent." We need five thousand gospel preachers over this land to eat, walk, sleep, and preach with this slogan on their minds for the next ten years.

Some have even come up with this, "Where does the Bible say that is wrong?" Brother I do not need a Bible that says that it is wrong to sprinkle babies; I have never needed a Bible, that said that it was wrong to count beads as an act of worship. I have never needed a Bible to show that it is wrong to circumcise as a religious rite. When I meet these people I press them for Bible to show that it is right; then let those who advocate church support of human organizations give us Bible proof and example for so doing.

Old Balaam, who lived back in that dim, misty moonlight age of the world, said, "I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more." Moses said, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." If God held these men of old to strict account in that age of ignorance (in which were some things he did overlook, Acts 17:30-31) can we expect less of Him today? "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God." (2 John 9) Brethren the hope of the world lies in our following exactly what the Bible says.