Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 17, 1957
NUMBER 24, PAGE 7a-9b

Modern Problems Confronting The Church -- No. I

J. P. Lusby, Amarillo, Texas

The prophet Isaiah said: "The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help me; therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me." Isa. 50:5-8.

Every child of God should have his face set like a flint for the truth and opposed to evil. And he should equip himself with the truth so that he may boldly, as Isaiah did, issue the challenge unto all, and call upon him who has espoused and is propagating error to stand and face the truth in the error which he is propagating.

Can you conceive of the apostle Paul preaching something, then running from a defense of that which he preached? Indeed, it would take a fecund imagination to conceive of any inspired preachers of apostolic days refusing to defend that which they were promulgating. Paul and the brethren at Philippi were "set for the defense of the gospel." Phil. 1:7,17. The disgrace of our day is that there has arisen in the church of the Lord an attitude of hit and run, of speak and refuse to defend, of affirming when there is no opposition present, of attempting to prove a point by downing those who are in disagreement with what is being proclaimed. If the Lord is with us we need have no fear who our adversary may be, let him stand up and make himself known. Let him meet us on the platform of polemics. Let him cross swords with that which we proclaim. Great men of the past ever stood ready to defend that which they preached — the church grew — false doctrine ran for cover. If I weren't willing to defend that which I preach, I'd quit preaching!

The faith of the gospel is a dogmatic faith, and a preacher ought to be dogmatic or get somewhere else. This speak-softly, tread-lightly, step-carefully type of preaching is not good for a thing on God's earth, save to please the brethren and to appease the sectarians. God has a law, and with that law we must comply. God did not consult me as concerns what would be incorporated in that law, nor what would be left out. It is simply mine to subscribe unto the law which God gave. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed ... For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Gal. 1:8-10.

Modern Problems Confronting The Church

That there are problems today confronting the church I think no informed person will deny. But that the problems are modern might be subject to question. The problems of present day and the dangers now confronting the church are the problems that have been before the church in days gone by and are the dangers to which some subscribed in times past which resulted in an apostasy from the truth, and out of that apostasy grew the papacy, and later, out of another apostasy, there sprang up the Christian Church.

Some of our problems and functional and operational. Function and operation many times, if not every time, give rise unto organization, and organization demands some sort of authority. Function and operation involve organization through which to operate. Shall it be the church or shall it be some humanly authorized organization? Is the church sufficient to do all God wants done, or is man wise enough to form, to establish, to set up and maintain organizations that can better accomplish the purpose of God and expedite the work of the church? Was God wise enough to build an organization capable of doing all He wants done in this world religiously, or does man have superior wisdom? Is man able to accomplish that which God was unable to perform?

It is a reflection upon the wisdom and power of the Almighty to suggest that man can accomplish more by following the wisdom of God. It is a reflection on Him who purposed the church eternally and upon his Son who built it and upon the Holy Spirit who revealed it and filled it to say that man can build organizations that are more adept and better equipped to do the work than the organization which God Almighty set up.

Chart Goes Here A Parallel

Matt. 28:19 - Teach Church

How - Organization Missionary Society

1 Tim. 5:16 - Relief Church

How - Organization Benevolent Society

The how in the above diagram refers to organization. How (in or through what organization) are we to teach? That question arose a little over one hundred years ago.

Did God give an organization through which that command is to be executed? If so, what is it?

Some brethren argued that the how was immaterial. They said since God did not specify the method, the mode of operation was left to the wisdom of uninspired men. They set up a Missionary Society through which to operate in preaching the gospel of Christ. They claimed it expedited the work of preaching, and therefore was an expedient. They justified it on the ground of liberty and judgment, and raised the question: "Where does the Bible say, 'Thou shalt not'?" It was pointed out to them that the Lord Jesus Christ set up the church as the organization to do the work of preaching. The question then was: Is the church as God gave it sufficient to do the work of preaching God wants done, or must we have some human organization, a Missionary Society, through which to operate?

1 Tim. 5:16 instructs us to relieve certain poor widows. The passage has reference to a specific class, and even restricts the class. Not all widows, not all poor widows, not all poor widows in the church, are embraced. The apostle said, "Some refuse." And refuse is not synonymous with relieve. We are to relieve a certain class. The question arises, how? Just as they were to teach and the question arose, how; so we are to relieve and the question arises, how?

Some say that it does not make any difference. That the how is left to the wisdom of man, and therefore they argue today, as men argued in days gone by, that we can set up, organize, build and maintain, support out of the church treasury Benevolent Societies through which to do the work of relief. We say to them as brethren said to Missionary Society advocates in the past, God has an organization for that purpose, and that organization is the church.

The question how involves organization now as it involved organization then. Which organization shall we use, the divine or the human? Shall the church do it, or shall some benevolent society humanly authorized and humanly governed do the work God intended his church to do, and the church simply funnel funds into that humanly authorized society and let it take over the responsibility God placed upon the church? The question now is: Is the church as God gave it sufficient to do the work of benevolence God wants done, or must we have some human organization, a Benevolent Society, through which to operate?

I maintain that if the church can do its benevolent work through a Benevolent Society, it can do its teaching work through a Missionary Society; but if it is sinful for the church to do its teaching work through a Missionary Society, upon the same basis, the same logic, the same reasoning, and the same scriptural ground, it is sinful to do its benevolent work through a Benevolent Society. Why is one right and the other wrong? It is inconsistent to maintain one and repudiate the other. Every argument that can be advanced to justify this can likewise be advanced to justify that — and has been. There are no new arguments being advanced today. All were worn threadbare a hundred years ago in an attempt to justify the Missionary Society.