Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 24, 1957
NUMBER 37, PAGE 7a,9b

"My Father's House"

C. D. Plum, Columbus, Ohio

Last night as I lay on my pillow, and tossed on my bed, being troubled over, and praying over some trends among the people of God that I fear will hurt the church of our Lord in a decade or a quarter of a century hence; like a flash, the heading of this article: "My Father's House," with an urge to write, came across my mind. Just a coincidence, you say. To me it is not a coincidence; unless the answer to prayer is a coincidence, which it is not.

The Temple

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, my house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." (Matt. 21:12-13.) These words show plainly the Lord's displeasure at what was going on in the temple, this house that was dedicated to prayer, and to worship.

Yes, this temple, this place where God was worshipped by fleshly Israel, was dedicated both by God and man. It is written of God and the temple: "For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually." (II Chron. 7:16.) And it is written of man and this temple: "So the king (Solomon) and all the people dedicated the house of God." (II Chron. 7:5.) When God sanctified the temple, it simply meant he set apart this house to be a house of prayer, a place for worship. When Solomon and the people "dedicated" the temple, it simply meant they set apart this house for a definite use for the service of God. That is all dedication of the temple meant then.

That Is All It Means Now

Dedicating meeting houses could be carried to excesses and extremes. If all we mean by dedicating meeting houses is setting them apart for the definite service of God, I see no fault in these so-called opening services. But the meeting house would be as much dedicated to the service of God without any special meeting at all, just by meeting in the house and carrying on the true worship. The very fact that the meeting house was built specifically for the true worship of God, is dedication within itself.

Yes, Yes, I Understand

Sure! I understand that the meeting house is not the church of our Lord. "The house of God" today is the church, the people who obey the gospel, not by any means is the house of God the meeting house. The spiritual temple today is the church, composed of all those who have understandingly believed the truth, repented of sins, confessed Jesus to be God's Son, and have been buried in baptism. God lives in the church, not the meeting house. (I Tim. 3:15; II Cor. 6:16-18.) All this I understand, and have so understood it for all my preaching years, and before.

Another Thing I Understand

Every time I have helped to build a meeting house in which the true church was to meet for the true worship of God, that was the specific object of building the meeting house. I never slaved in manual labor, or solicited funds from brethren, to help build a meeting house for the church, and then threw this meeting house open for political, civil, and social affairs, or any other affair, that would distract from the true worship of God.

I have known a few (thank God, not many) meeting houses of the church, supposedly built for the express purpose of meeting there to worship, thrown open to political, civil, and social functions, and a piano, or another musical instrument, brought in the house for said functions. These, and other things, are the things that troubled my spirit as I lay on my pillow last night. These are the things, which to me seem to be dangerous trends among us.

But some one says, "Brother Plum, the meeting house is not sacred." Yes, yes, I understand all that. But why did we build the meeting house in the first place? Is that what we had in mind when we built it? If so, better by far if it never had been built with the Lord's money. There are plenty of decent, respectable homes, and places, where political, civil, and social functions may be carried on without causing schism in the body of Christ, and without giving occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.

But some one else says, "Brother Plum, a political, civil, or social function in the meeting house is not worship, even if a piano is used. We would never think of using instrumental music in the worship." Maybe you wouldn't, but maybe your children will after you are dead. This reminds me of what digressive brethren who wanted the instrument in the Bible study said in our country. "Just let us have the organ in the Bible study period and we will never bring it into the worship, they said. In some congregations this was granted. It took only a few years for the use of the instrument in the meeting house to expand from the Bible study, to use in weddings. In a few more years the organ was being used in funerals in the meeting house, as they argued that was not worship. And in a few more years the organ was used in the worship. When they first asked for the organ for the Bible study, and promised it would stop there, they may have been sincere. But it didn't stop. Nor will it stop today. We may be sincere in asking for the piano to be brought in for a social function today, and we may be sincere when we say it will stop there. It won't stop there. It didn't stop there in the past. It won't stop there now. It may take some years for the complete change. It may not come into the worship in your lifetime, but what of our children? I once heard a highly influential college president say, "While I live, I'll keep things straight with God's word, but I can't guarantee what may happen when I am gone." How true! How true! And so it is with bringing the piano into the meeting house for any cause today. While you live you may keep it out of the worship. But the presence of the piano there for any function, is the first long step for it to be there for every function. Association and time often mellows one's attitude toward sin.

Be it understood that I am not writing for controversy. I want peace, but I want purity; and I think I see a threat to the eventual purity of the church in her worship if things go on as they are. I am not "binding and loosing" in this article. That is not mine to do. I am not impugning any one's motives or efforts made on the other side of this subject. In fairness to all I think this should be written. Enough preachers, and other members of the church have written to me, or spoken to me, voluntarily, in recent weeks, about this very matter, that I feel sure schism in the body of Christ will result if such a course is pursued much farther.

Since we know it is absolutely safe to keep instruments of music, for any function, out of the house that was built as a place to worship God, why not do so? Surely, there is enough trouble in spiritual Zion already without bringing up more. God help us all to so live and serve him, "that we all may be one," even as Jesus prayed.