Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 11, 1954
NUMBER 27, PAGE 8-9a

Our Smutty Appearance

Wm. E. Wallace, Akron, Ohio

We are troubled with men of hyper-zeal, men who are not satisfied with the growth of the kingdom of God according to promise, pattern and potentiality. The growth of the kingdom according to the natural laws governing the work of the seed is too slow, too gradual to many among us — sincere men indeed, but men who are interferring with God's portion.

In the fourth chapter of Mark there are three parables concerning the seed and its work. One parable has to do with the seed in the kind of soil which gives to it the promise of healthy growth. Another pictures the miracle of the growth of the seed according to Divine pattern; the third contrasts the small beginning of the seed with its dynamic result, its potential. Each of these parables expresses a portion of truth concerning the seed. Jesus "spake by many such parables" with each one carrying a vital truth for his disciples.

There is a puissant energy in the seed, an innate, inherent power of development so that the sower need not tamper with the seed itself — nay, he best not. Christ tells us in the fourth chapter of Mark, verses 26 through 29, that after the sower casts the seed into the ground his responsibility to the seed ends. It needs not his meddling, which would result in nothing but inhibition. The responsibility of the sower passes from the seed to the soil after the sowing, and the only direct responsibility the sower has to the seed is to see that it is properly placed. The farmer stands back as the potency in the seed germinates into activity. The development and growth of the seed into a plant is gradual but sure — this is the point of the parable recorded in Mark 4:26-29. There is a law of orderly development that governs the progress and growth — first the blade, then the ear and next the full grain in the ear. During the growth the farmer may exercise his office of responsibility to the soil, but he leaves the seed alone — to its orderly development. When foreign forces tamper with the grain, corruption is resultant. There is a grain disease called smut, a blemish caused by fungi. The farmer's activity with the soil helps provide the sustenance for healthy life in the soil, for the good of the seed, but only God imparts the life. God is the energy behind the automatic process of the "earth bringeth forth fruit of itself."

The apostles of Jesus Christ were somewhat of the zealot nature in reference to the establishment of the church in their pre-kingdom conceptions. The Zealots were a religio-politicio group advocating the quick, violent and sensational overthrow of the Roman yoke. The apostles were of similar attitude in reference to the establishment of the kingdom of God. In view of their conceptions Jesus portrayed the nature of the work of the Word, in the parable of the stalk of grain he pictured the self-potency of the seed in its sure development and in the parable of the mustard seed he taught that the small beginning would have greater results. These messages to the disciples were pithy lessons designed to calm their hyper-zeal, erase their discouragement and incite patience and humility.

Emphasizing that our responsibility is to the soil, not to the seed, we suggest that there is an inherent, harmonious relationship between truth and human nature. Our responsibility as builders and preparers is not to thetruth, but to human nature. When truth and human nature prove to be incompatible it is because human nature is perverted. Place the seed in the right environment and it will do its work. The sower "sleeps and rises day and night," he cannot hurry the growth of the seed, he can only tend the soil. The farmer knows the harvest will not come from immature growth and he knows he cannot make the seed grow according to his own notion. He works the soil and lets the seed do its work.

Tampering With the Seed Our brethren today are not content with the simple character of the truth, with its quiet development within the individual. They are not content with the preparation of individual hearts for the reception of truth — that is too slow, not sensational enough. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for no ultra-sensational brotherhood moves or operations; it suggests that Christian individuals do that which they are most capable of doing. It suggests that congregations work independently and that they be tied together in no sort of brotherhood plan or arrangement — individuals and individual congregations working quietly but diligently, cooperating when necessary, but confederating never. Leave it this way and the kingdom grows gradually but surely; people are added to the Lord's church instead of people being added to an association of society elites, - or class distinctions, or exciting movements, or entertaining programs. But Zealot brethren see sensationalism in society and seek to have it in the church. Men, especially young men, yearn to lead the church out of its natural orderly laws of growth. They manufacture great promotive plans and schemes. They tamper with God's portion, they belittle the manner of Paul's activity and unwittingly seem to exaggerate their own relative ability. Whence cometh the movements toward, the institutionalizing of the work of the church? Not from the Book. Whence cometh the demands of sensational brotherhood promotions? Not from God's Book. Whence cometh the call for permanent programs of local elderships acting in a regional or brotherhood sphere? The voices of the apostles echo in unison from the dead, "It's not in the Seed!" The Seed itself does not develop into these things — these things are denominational fungi. They may look good to those who think the seed is too bare, but as for me, I prefer not to tamper with the seed, it needs no drapery.

If congregations will support their preachers and activate their members toward the sowing of the seed and the cultivation of the soil, the church will grow — maybe not as rapidly and as sensationally as modern Zealots would like to see, but it will grow and its small beginnings will have greater results. If brethren will cultivate humility, dependence, faith and patience and quit "messing with" the seed, controversy within will subside, brotherly love will increase and disunity will recede.

If the great promotive schemes bring flocks of people to the harvest, what good will be accomplished if they are all smutty with fungi of foreign intrusion? How many among us were added to the church by the Lord, and how many have been captured by the tide of sensationalism and are members only in the recognition of man? How numerous or widespread are the tares in the kingdom?

Misconceptions Concerning Greatness There seems to be a critical misconception in the brotherhood as to what makes greatness. Emphasis is placed on the size of something, rather than in its foundation or purity. We think more of the outward display or appearance of an institution or an organization or an effort, and we overlook the depth, the intensity of the personal need of condemned souls. We build extravagant edifices with modern comforts as means of worship and attraction, but we become lost, in our pride and glory, to the end to which we should strive. We commend the outward manifestations of ability and the sensational accomplishments of the leaders among us, but we overlook cultivating willingness on the part of the lessen to strive toward serving the Master in humble submission. Shall we measure greatness by the institutions and organizations of man? Shall we put the supreme value in personal popularity, prominence and sensational effort or shall we return to the New Testament pattern of simple conformity to individual and congregational duty? We are bragging and exaggerating about the biggest congregations and the largest attendances, and our use of the adjectives bigger, better, largest and best is evidence that size is of more importance to us than good and conformity. We are overlooking the pennies that make the dollars, the steps that make the stair-case, the words that make sentences, the cells that make tissues and the organs that make the organism. Shall we show the world that we are big, or shall we show the world we are right?

We have come to the point where "our" institutional and brotherhood activity is better known than "our" congregational activity. Congregations would rather send their money to the "big" Herald of Truth, rather than conduct a "little" local program. Some had rather that their name appear in the Boles Orphan Home Journal, it seems than to have it appear on the record books in heaven as fulfillers of personal or congregational responsibility. The Seed is not fast enough, the growing plant is not attractive enough, we must adorn it with the great schemes and whims of men — 0 vain men!

If the Lord had intended that his work be done on a permanent brotherhood cooperational set-up, do you not think that he would have designed an organism to meet the needs of that higher scale of work ? The local congregation is not designed to carry on a brotherhood work. It is not set-up under God's authority for a work that constitutes the accepting of responsibility for a brotherhood operation. There can be no brotherhood operation for there is no machinery that provides or allows for it by God's authority. It is not within the authority of the church to have any universal or brotherhood operation, neither is there any machinery under which such work can be expedited in the name of Jesus Christ. When we resort to big promotive schemes calling for work foreign to New Testament principle, we show our disregard and disrespect for the natural laws governing the natural development of the simple Seed — the word of God in the hearts of men.

There is a great gulf of difference between the congregational cooperation of New Testament times, and the congregational confederations of this day and time. We are beginning to appear smutty, and it is well to point out that smut does not necessarily retard growth — the grain afflicted often grows on in a smutty corrupted manner, but the end product isn't fit to eat.