Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 15, 1955
NUMBER 32, PAGE 8-9,11b

"Church Cooperation" (Cont.)

Cleon Lyles, Little Rock, Arkansas

Try finding an example in the Bible for a gospel paper. And I'm not talking about the paper you brethren print — your bulletin if you have one. Try finding an example in the Bible for the bulletin, — if you don't put out one, then try the one I try to put out. Try finding an example in the Bible for it. Try finding an example for a Vacation Bible School; for a singing school, for a radio program of any kind. Try finding an example in the Bible for a church selling bonds to build a building — with which to build a building. It's going on all over the brotherhood. First of all, I can't find an example for a church building a building, and then I can't find an example for a church selling bonds to build a building. Try to find it. Yet, I say it's going on. Can a Bible example be found for a baptistry? or, can a Bible example be found for a plurality of churches in one city? We believe that it is necessary. Brother Frank Smith shakes his head. Will you tell me where? Will you tell me where? All right. (At this point Brother Frank Smith stated that there were examples in the Colossian letter and the Roman letter.) Sir? Colossians? You mean in one city? Or in the country? In the district or in the city? Well, I'll have to look that up. I think he's talking about a district, rather than a city. You believe, in Romans, but you don't know the verse. I'd like for you to read it, if you have it. (Brother Smith told him to go ahead and he would give him the scripture later.) All right. The Bible deals in the matter of districts, quite often in the cities mentioned, sometimes the district is mentioned. Of course, if there are more than one in Colossae, more than one in that city, that's fine with me because I believe there ought to be more than one. But what I am trying to say is, try to find in the Bible where there are more congregations in one city — and I'll have to find whether that is a district or a city before I'll believe it or not, because I've always been taught that it was a district and not a city--but in the city of Jerusalem, as far as I know, there was one. Try finding where there were fifteen. Try finding where there were six. Try finding where there were twelve. Or where there were seventy as there are in Dallas. Now, while you find that, find the place for the baptistry, and find the place for the singing school, and find the place for the bonds that are sold, and find the place for building the building in the first place. I say there are things being practiced by the church right here for which there is no approved example, no necessary inference. But the "principle" does establish it. And, therefore, brethren are not doing wrong when_______________________________________________ they do it. Of course, we are often reminded that when a commandment is made that what is necessary to the fulfilling of that commandment is included. Well, I believe that. But is it necessary really to build a baptistry? Is it? We could still go to the creek if we wanted to. Our forefathers did. Is it absolutely necessary to build one? Is it absolutely necessary to build a house in which to worship? The early church didn't. They met in private homes, as far as we have record. As far as I know at least, they didn't build one. They met in a temple or private home, public building. Is it absolutely necessary that we have one? Well, for the growth of the church it may be. But not from the standpoint of Bible example. So, I say there are things' being done for which there is no direct command, no Bible example, and no necessary inference.

Now here are some approved examples of things that are not ordinarily done. Many instances, for example, the meeting place in the Bible is specified — the private home. That's an approved example. No approved example for meeting in a meeting house like this. In every instance as far as I can remember, and somebody shake their head at me if this is wrong, in connection with the Lord's supper they ate it in a upper room. No head shaking. That's all right. In every instance where they ate the Lord's supper, they ate it in a upper room. That's an approved example. Now then if we are always going to be directed by an approved example, it's got to be an upper room. Now these things may sound elementary, but you've got to get to the elementary in order to get to the reasoning in the matter. Churches today are eating the Lord's supper on the ground floor, whereas every approved example we have it was eaten in an upper room. Now there's your approved example. There are therefore some approved examples in the Bible that the churches are not following. There can be no doubt, bear in mind, that an approved example is all right. I don't deny that. But does that limit us to that kind of operation? It would be right to eat the Lord's supper in an upper room but that wouldn't make it wrong to eat it in the basement. It would be right to follow the approved example and meet in a private home but that doesn't mean it is wrong to meet here in the church building. So, the approved example doesn't necessarily limit us to that one thing. There are some things for which we do not have approved examples. God didn't give us one, and I have no right to legislate where God did not legislate; for if men are going to do what they claim to do and always be directed by a command, or an approved example or a necessary inference, we can't build baptisteries and we can't do a lot of other things. I certainly do not believe in doing anything wrong, but I say there are approved examples that you and I don't follow because the Lord didn't necessarily mean that as a law. There are some things which we do for which there is no approved example because God didn't say that an approved example means go this far and no further than that.

The argument is often made that cooperation destroys church autonomy. Well, now I don't believe that. I want you to know that I will be as much against destroying church autonomy as anybody and I want this understood: the idea of churches sending their money into one church and letting those elders determine how that money is spent with the home church having no say in the matter, I don't believe that is right. I think a church would lose its autonomy in a case like that. But I am going to be honest with you, I don't know of anybody doing that. If there are those in the brotherhood doing that I don't know of it. I have heard some that were accused of it but I'll believe it when I see it. There are too many things going around over the brotherhood that are being told about people and congregations that aren't so. I can illustrate that. I know one church in the brotherhood — I heard a man say that the church, when they built it, they built recreational rooms in it. Well, I didn't know whether they did or didn't. All I knew was this man never had been there. He was merely quoting what somebody else said. So I was near that place in a meeting some years after ward and I went up there and I climbed from top to bottom and sidewise. They didn't have it. I went back home and I told one of my elders, that they didn't have it. And he said, "I know they do." Well, I said, "I know they don't." He said, 'They do." I said, "They don't." He said, "They do." We went on like that for a long time, and finally he said, "I am going over there next year to visit my sister and I'll find out." He said, "They do, because I heard so and so say they do." I said, "Has so and so ever been there?" He said "No." But he said "so and so said it — he wouldn't lie about it." Well, he went over there and climbed from top to bottom and sidewise and came home and said, "It's not there."

You know, I was in Birmingham, Alabama in a meeting two years ago and a preacher came down in that territory and he told that the church where I was preaching in the meeting had a piano in the building. They didn't. And they sent somebody over to that man's meeting to tell him that what he said wasn't right. He never did correct it. But there wasn't a piano there and they tell me there never had been one there since they bought the building from denominational people many years ago.

I was telling that in Denver, Colorado not long ago and one preacher said, "that's what we heard about Sixth and Izard, that you had a piano there." There never has been a jew's harp there, as far as I know, let alone a piano. And yet, way up there in Colorado that's what we heard about Sixth and Izard.

Now what I am saying, brethren, is that there are rumors going around about preachers and elders and churches that are not necessarily so, some of them I found out were not so. I was talking to a man one time. He was writing or publishing an article about another man. And it was quite bitter and critical and I said, "Do you know that man." And he said, "No, I never met him in my life." "Well," I said "where do you get your information?" "Well, I got it from so and so." "Well, suppose you find out later that information isn't true?" He said, "That's no skin off of my nose. The fault is the man who told me." And not long ago I read from his own pen where he said that the men who would do that thing was as big a liar as the man who manufactured the lie.

Now I say that you have no right to publish a thing about me until you have found out whether it is true or not, and have no right to publish a thing about a congregation; and what I believe brethren ought to do — elders of the churches — when they want to help in any work that instead of taking the word of men for it that they ought to go to the source and examine it for themselves and see whether it is right or not. And then if they find it is right, do it, and if they find it is wrong don't do it. But just because some body comes along and tells you that a thing is wrong doesn't necessarily make it wrong. And just because a man writes in a paper that a thing is wrong doesn't necessarily make it wrong. His motives may be pure; he may be honest and sincere. I don't question that. But, I want to know whether this thing is right or not or wrong or not before I condemn my brethren, and brethren that's the only fair thing to do. I don't believe in going around holding up churches that are doing certain works and condemn them unless I know what they are doing is wrong, because if I know what they are doing is wrong that's another question. But I don't want the word of a man for it — I want to go to the source and find out whether it is so. And I'll tell you what I've found — about ninety-nine times out of a hundred or more, that when I went to the source I found out that the majority of the things if not all that I heard, were not true. And that men were just picking up what someone else said and maybe saying more than they said and that by the time it reached four or five mouths that it had gotten entirely out of proportion and a church was being condemned for a thing that the church wasn't doing. The same thing happens with preachers. Now, what we are doing as a whole today over the brotherhood — if there is an exception to this I don't know about it. So that'll cover the ground.

What we are doing over the brotherhood is what we have been doing for the last twenty-five, thirty, or fifty years. The only difference is we're doing it bigger. And the very men, the majority of them, who object to what's being done, were in there doing it years ago. To illustrate what I have in mind — we have at Little Rock a radio program that some brethren say is wrong. Nobody in Little Rock thinks it's wrong that I know of. There might be one or two, but the proposition came up a couple of years ago that one of the smaller congregations that wasn't able to support it thought that we ought to have a daily program. Well, we have a lot of programs there — I say a lot — three or four or five each week, but they believed that we ought to have a daily program, that the congregations ought to cooperate in preaching the gospel on the daily program. Well, a lot of meetings were had. Some in the beginning thought it was wise and some thought otherwise. Some said we would be criticized. Some said we wouldn't. Some said do and some said don't. But when the final thing was done, it was done. The congregation where I labor put so much money into it a month, other congregations over the city put so much money in and the various preachers preached week about. One man this week and another that week. There are seven in all I believe and every seven weeks we go around. Now the first year the money was handled by the elders of the church where I labor and now it is being handled by another church, and later on it will be handled by another. Now, that's what we've always done. I remember when I moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma, radio was new then and we had a radio program. Then there were brethren throughout that area who listened to it who thought we ought to be on more than that but we weren't able to be on more than that. So they made the proposition, would you be on more than that if we send the money? So they sent the money and I was on more than that. I didn't see anything wrong in it then and I don't see anything wrong in it now. God didn't tell me whether I am to preach on the radio or whether I'm not, whether I am to do it one day a week or ten days a week, or whether I am to do it five times a day or one time a day. Whether I am to do it on the radio or some other way, so they did it. And I remember when I moved to Paris, Texas we had a radio program. The church did. The churches in the county wanted a radio program. They were unable to have it, they thought we ought to be on by day and so they said if we furnish the money, fifteen of us, will you do it? Will you do the preaching? Oh. yeah, I'll do the preaching. So they furnished the money, they and the church where I labored, and I did the preaching. Now that's been going on ever since there have been radios. Maybe you haven't had anything to do with it. I never heard of brethren objecting to it until it was done on a larger scale. I say the thing we are doing now is what we have done except we are doing more of it. The same thing exactly. Now, that doesn't make it right. But the thing I am saying is that the objection has only come since it was done on a larger scale.