Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 3, 1957
NUMBER 34, PAGE 11-12,13b

"Some Problems Facing The Church As Seen After Twenty-Three Years"

Ira B. Sandusky, Culver City, California

Twenty-three years ago I left what is known as The Christian Church to become just a Christian and serve under the banner of the Christ without any entanglements of men or opinions or doctrines of men. There has been at least a measure of success in my work of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ and much joy has been mine to realize and know that I have only to give account unto my Lord, and not men.

I believe there is a definite need for this study and while I may not be able to give all the problems yet there are some so flagrant that any novice can see them if he is willing to open his eyes and look at the facts and not be blinded by error. The truth of God is plain enough for us to understand and God expects us to follow His truths without any additions, subtractions or substitutions whatever. I am sure most of the members of the church realize that the church faces a crises and that it is in danger of another split, as of one hundred years ago, unless something can be said and done to stem the tide of digression and get back to the DIVINE PATTERN of the truth of God.

I am not so optimistic or naive as to think that our preaching and teaching today is of more value and force than the apostles of the first century: for they predicted of departures that were facing the church then; and in Acts 20:28-30 Paul told the elders of Ephesus that some of them would arise and speak perverse things and lead disciples away. So why should we today think our preaching is so strong and good that men are stronger or stand for more faith than they did 1900 years ago?

Two departures — apostasies--have already come, the first led to the Roman Catholic Church and then in the last century the second led into the Christian Church, commonly known as Disciples of Christ. Some places they carry the name Church of Christ, then in small letters underneath distinguish themselves as "Christian." We have been known as a Bible loving people, willing to search and study the Word of God to find the TRUTH on any subject and take a 'Thus saith the Lord' as rule and guide. I am sure that same principle and ideal must exist in many today. But there are some preachers and elders with many members who think, teach, and say that too much has been said regarding the issues facing the church and we should be silent on them.

In July, 1956, during a gospel meeting at Culver-Palms church two preachers stood in the foyer of the building discussing the issues facing the church. Number one said: "I have not preached a sermon on them and do not expect to." Number two said: "I have not preached a sermon on the issues, and furthermore have never heard one on them, and do not want to, and think that they are not nearly so bad as some preachers and papers say they are." When any man claiming to be a gospel preacher takes that attitude and position toward any issue facing the Lord's church, he is not worthy of standing in the pulpit, but needs to sit in a class and study the Word of God and learn what responsibility a gospel preacher has in preaching and teaching the Truth of God. II Corinthians 4:5, "For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord" should be the criterion of every gospel preacher today.

What Is The Cause Of These Issues Today?

There is just one cause, as in the Second Century departure there was one cause. The doctrine, teaching of God was not adhered to and the bars were let down so that error came in; and when once error came into the church there was no stopping. The first departure was led by elders of the church, and then the second departure was led by preachers who organized a Missionary Society to do the preaching of the gospel. This happened at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849, and Alexander Campbell was the first president of it. This led the way for departure in worship 10 years later at Ludlow, Kentucky, with the introduction of a melodeon into the worship of God.

Any student of the Word knows that the church of the Lord is to be divinely appointed with men who are qualified as elders to rule the church with the WORD of God RULE and not as lords over God's heritage; therefore, they do not make the rules, nor do they give the pattern, but they are to carry out the instructions of the Lord by direction of the Word of God, with deacons who serve under and with them in the Lord's work. This is for the local congregation and not for the church universal, as all the TRUTH of God is directed to the work of the congregation, not universal church.

The elders are not a dictatorial group who have an office to fill, but theirs is a work to perform to the glory of God and Christ and saving of souls. They are not to curb the preaching of the gospel, nor demand the preacher to withhold part of the truth of God, but his authority to PREACH THE WORD comes from Christ. The evangelist who will not preach all the truth is not fit to stand in the pulpit of a church of the Lord and should be taught the TRUTH and his responsibility to the TRUTH.

Brother Hugh Clark in a recent Gospel Guardian statement said (Sept. 6, 1956), "Any preacher who will knuckle and serve under any other circumstances, either in local work or meetings is an hireling and a time-serving professionalist, lacking even the character of manhood, much less the stature of a gospel preacher." I can and do say amen! to this statement. The truth of God does not permit any man, anywhere in any circumstances to violate the principles of the gospel of Christ and be acceptable to God. THE PULPITS OF THE LORD MUST BE KEPT FREE UNDER CHRIST TO PREACH THE TRUTH WITHOUT FEAR OR FETTER, THAT THE TRUTH OF GOD MAY BE MADE KNOWN TO A LOST AND DYING WORLD.

Lack of respect for the authority of Christ has brought denominationalism into the church. Many members of the church today have the idea and impression that "Truth is not a fixed and certain thing," but that it can be changed to suit the day and brethren have the right to make whatever changes they deem necessary. This is the result of so many people coming into the church from the denominations in the past few years and not being converted to the LORD AND HIS TRUTH. They, like Peter in Luke 22:32, need to be told, as the Lord told Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." There is too much pride today in the church over "OUR GREAT SCHOOLS," "OUR FINE BUILDINGS," "OUR ORPHAN HOMES," "OUR RADIO AND TV PROGRAMS." Surely these things must belong to men and not the Lord for we do not find them mentioned in the Word of God.

I am in favor of Christian education, decent and well equipped buildings, caring for the orphans and old folks, and preaching the gospel over radio and TV, but I am in favor of it being done by the church, and not having some separate institution or organization to do it. My Bible teaches me that the "church is the pillar (support), ground of the truth" and I am sure that we cannot expect some college to make our preachers, and do the work of the church. When the church does the work the Lord gave it to do, we will not be having so many digressive things entering into the church, but it will be clean and holy. The church must teach, train, and produce those who are going out to proclaim the word of God, and we cannot transfer that work to any college, regardless of how much good and how Godly the teachers may be in the colleges.

The Church Today Has Too Much Worldliness In It!

Man is both carnal and spiritual, worldly and religious. Man may he controlled by either of these, but not by both at the same time. (Rom. 8:7 and James 3:17.) We notice some of the fruits of worldliness in the church today by the laxity of the members in that many of them dance, gamble, drink; and divorce has gone rampant to where some places almost twenty-five percent of the congregation is in marital difficulties. (This is not an exaggeration but actual fact, known to the writer.) It is not uncommon for preachers to be told they cannot preach upon these subjects without causing trouble in the congregation. The immodest dress situation has become a part of the church members to where it is difficult to tell the difference in the world and Christians. I firmly believe that the only way to combat these situations is to PREACH AND TEACH THE TRUTH of God regardless of how many it may hurt and make angry. Paul did not fail in preaching the truth even if some did not like it and in Galatians 4:16 he said, "Am I become your enemy because I told you the truth?" We today should take a lesson from Paul in preaching the truth to the church and lost and dying man, for ONLY THE TRUTH WILL MAKE FREE. (John 8:32.)

Is There A Remedy For This Condition?

Yes, there is a remedy, and that remedy is not on the basis of, "others are doing it and we have been doing it for many years and we are going to keep on doing it." One editor of a paper recently used that argument to prove that support of orphan homes was all right and did not use a passage of scripture as support of it.

We are dependent upon the WORD OF GOD to direct us and we must have a "thus saith the Lord" for the things we do and teach. Our work and worship of God depends upon this and we dare not become like the denominations round about us, or we may lose our candlestick as did the churches of Asia. (Rev. 2-3.) YES, THE REMEDY IS: PREACH THE WORD. And as gospel preachers, "make full proof of thy ministry," as Paul told Timothy.

The Mission Of The Church

We find there are three fields of work in the church and the final goal for each of these is the same — the salvation of souls.

EVANGELISM is a work of the church. The church is to preach the gospel. In New Testament days this was done to all the creation. (Col. 1:23.) The church did what God and Christ wanted it to do, without the aid of any Missionary Society, (It took 1900 years for men to learn that God had to have a Missionary Society, directed by men to preach the gospel and then that was something added to the DIVINE PLAN AND PATTERN.) Only the TRUTH will save man and we dare not change God's divine pattern for the evangelism of the word of God. In Acts 13, we find the church sending out Paul and Barnabas and they went preaching the Word of God. THE CHURCH is SPIRITUAL, not social in nature or work.

EDIFICATION is a work of the church. (Eph. 4:1116.) The truth of God is all that is to be used to edify and build up the church. The church is a spiritual institution and we do not find in the word any place for entertainment, or social activities to get and keep the young people, nor YOUTH revivals, not even a place for SUPERVISED CAMPS and playgrounds where the youth and adults may go in summer time to get away from the church and doing the will of God. When the church stoops to socials and entertainment it has departed from the truth of God. I admit I am not smart, but I have not been able to see where we can have 'church socials' or `church suppers' and still be faithful to the Lord and His cause. I left those things in the Christian Church and do not want to be mixed into them any more. Let us keep the church pure and clean to please the Lord and save souls, for that is what it means to be edified and builded up in Christ.

BENEVOLENCE: (Acts 6; 11:27-30; I Cor. 16:1-2; II Cor. 8 and 9.) These with many other passages give us God's pattern for caring for the poor and needy, and this included the orphans and old folk too. But we do not find where they sent orphan children or old folks from Corinth to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem church to care for them. (But maybe we will yet learn that there was a Jerusalem Orphan Home, a Jerusalem Old Folk Home, and a Jerusalem Church of Christ Hospital, surely we will find these in the second and third chapters of Jude!)

I love the church of my Lord and am willing to stand by the TRUTH OF GOD and preach the word to saint and shiner alike, who need to know His will. I believe in doing all the work of the Lord, but I want to do it the right way. It is a known fact that we could empty every children's home and have them in Christian homes of brethren without violating the word of God. Let us do things the LORD'S WAY and not man's way.

When I left the Christian Church twenty-three years ago (September 21, 1933) I thought I was among a group of people who wanted nothing but the WORD OF GOD and I was and have been happy in my work and have seen many souls saved as a result of preaching the word of God. I am not a pessimist, but I am not so optimistic that I can close my eyes to dangers facing us on every side. I believe that we need to study these issues and study them with open mind and heart and then FOLLOW GOD'S STANDARD and not follow men or the ways of men.

The men in the Christian Church still teach and argue that to stand for the Truth was what caused the split the past century when we rejected their additions and many of our brethren are making the same weak and flimsy arguments today, but brethren IF THE TRUTH CAUSES DIVISION, LET IT COME, FOR GOD'S TRUTH IS RIGHT AND ALL ELSE IS WRONG AND SINFUL! I want peace in the church but I am not for peace at any price, but peace on a "thus saith the Lord" only is right and will be acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.

The reward is promised to those who do the Father's will, and not to those who do the will of men. Heaven is too sweet, eternity too long, and hell too severe to go to the wrong place and be lost, so let us follow Paul's example: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have KEPT THE FAITH (guarded well the faith), hence forth there is laid up for me the crown of life, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give to me in that day, and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing." (II Tim. 4:7-8.)

"Come let us reason together, saith the Lord."