Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 2, 1955

"Going Down Into Egypt For Help"

C. D. Plum, Columbus, Ohio

"Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help." (Isa. 31:1)

"To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back into Egypt." (Acts 7:39)

The standard by which anything is right or wrong is God's word. All we need to do is name the "teaching" of God's word that actually authorizes our practice. This would be sufficient for me. It should be sufficient for all.

When we "can" and "do" point out that God's word actually authorizes our practice, we won't need to make the following statements which have been made. And I quote: "A few due to prejudice, have blinded themselves to the point they will never change in spite of overwhelming evidence in favor of such a change." Are we capable of looking into one's heart, and see this prejudice If we can't, and we can't, why make this statement? And who is to be the judge of what is overwhelming evidence in favor of such a change? To anyone guilty of making such a statement, I suggest such a one spend some zeal in reading what God's word has said about "presumptuous sin". Then, it seems, some repenting and praying would be in order.

And maybe you have read this statement, intended for those who do not go along with the things that have come out of "the Egypt of denominationalism." The statement: "Do we look upon ourselves as the watchdogs of orthodoxy"? Just what does this prove? Do the oracles of God speak of preachers, or others, as the "watchdogs of orthodoxy"? Why this barb? I read about a "watchman" in the Bible. Let's read it: "So thou, 0 son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me." (Ezek. 33:7) Could it be possible that "watchdogs of orthodoxy" are found in the same verse as "camps" and "missionary societies"?

Then, sometimes brethren who can not get us to go down into Egypt with them try to scare us by saying: "Brethren, are we guilty of modern Phariseeism"? This is supposed to clinch what has not been proved.

Similarities do not prove, "exact parallels". Nothing I have read proves an exact parallel between "colleges," "papers", and "camps". A stork has two legs and a tongue. Man has two legs and a tongue. They have similarities, but they are not exact parallels. But suppose that it could be proved (but it has not been) that colleges, papers, and camps are exact parallels, what does this prove? Does it prove them "all right"" or "all wrong"? Just to prove me inconsistent would not prove the "camps" to be right. I AM STILL WAITING FOR THE SCRIPTURES THAT AUTHORIZE THESE CAMPS. If these are produced, the matter ends there so far as I am concerned. The scriptural, safe, and sane way to prove anything right is to give "direct command," "approved example," or "necessary inference" for the practice. That is all. Would this not be wiser than resorting to ridicule?

There is, I fear, a great growing tendency to go down into the Egypt of Catholicism and Protestantism for outward pomp and show in costly meeting houses. I fully understand that the command to meet includes a place to meet. But to justify some such activities I have heard some things set forth by some that just does not sound like sound doctrine. For instance, I have heard it said, "We have to compete with the denominations in attractive meeting houses" and "a fine house will bring people to meeting, and cause the church to grow." Brethren, I'm afraid if the "gospel" is not the power that attracts, together with Christianity in the lives of the members based upon gospel teaching, what we win means nothing to the Lord. Is Romans 1:16 out of date? Should it read: "For I am not ashamed of the meeting house, for it is the power of God unto salvation?" Then, oftentimes such a burden of debt is placed upon the congregation that it ties down the resources of the church for years to come. No, I don't think we should get on a back alley to build, neither do I think we should build something like a pig pen. Certainly I am sure we need a house that is big enough. But the frills and fancies that cost so much, and actually mean so little, are in my way of thinking, a too far cry away from the simple "upper chamber" where the church met at Troas. (Acts 20:7-8)

Then, there is the tendency of going down into the Egypt of denominationalism concerning setting "time" and "place" for preacher consultations. I am not questioning the ability of preachers to give fine advice. But to set definite hours for a preacher to be in a certain place, and then solicit people to "bring" their problems to him, seems a little odd. Where are the elders? What is their work? If the congregation does not respect the way of God with elders for this purpose, is it not something like Israel revolting against the judges, and saying: "Give us a king ?"

Yes, yes, I know about Paul in his own "hired house." But surely no one will claim this as a parallel. Brethren, I tremble at the trends among us.

Once upon a time a Methodist said to me, "I tithe, but I don't give it all at once. I put considerable away in safe keeping, then when there arise special cause for giving to "side lines" in the church I already have the money and don't have to dig up more." I couldn't help but think of Saul and the people saving the best of the Amalekites cattle to offer up sacrifice to God. Israel would not have to sacrifice their own cattle if they could offer the one of the Amalekites. Pretty nice. Neither is this an exact parallel, about as imperfect as other parallels I have read about.

But what this Methodist friend said to me about "side lines" of the church, did remind me that brethren have borrowed this from the Egypt of denominations. The church has too many side lines. We walk and talk as though we were not "complete in him". (Col. 2:10) Elders allow themselves to be appointed to a "board of some side line". Some brethren have suggested one less meeting a year, and give what would be spent for the second meeting to the church side line. Some brethren have said they would withhold a part of their contribution in order to send a boy or girl to a side line. Then before me is a quotation. And I quote: "These 'side lines' are not doing the work of the church, not connected with the church in any way." Yet these side lines are preaching the gospel. These same side lines are baptizing children and adults. Are these not the work of the church? And another institution is doing it.

"Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help." (Isa. 31:1)