Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 27, 1957

Progress And Growth

George P. Estes, Maplewood, Missouri

The essentials for progress and growth can be classified as follows: proper preaching, teaching, administration, interest and a united effort. When a congregation is blessed with all these and they are put to work, progress will be the inevitable result. No force, false doctrine or influence on the outside can impede the work and development of a congregation when the Lord's will is properly carried out.

Division, false doctrine, improper administration, trouble and lack of peace from within are the basic reasons for the failure of a congregation. It is wise to take into consideration that the heretics, reprobates, false teachers, those with itching ears, babblers, arguing about unlearned questions, and such like mentioned in I and II Timothy and Titus are all from within the fold of the church. Timothy and Titus are to deal with these because they lead brethren astray and bring about and result in division. All such are to be avoided and shunned.

The apostle Paul rebukes the Corinthian brethren for dividing into factions which was brought about by following after men (1 Cor. 1:10-13; for following after the wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1); for denying and doubting the great truth and fact of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15). All this proves the troubles with which they dealt were from within. These are the things which impede growth and create division.

This leads to the conclusion that the doctrine to be believed and followed is the word of God. It and it alone will bring peace and unity.

The classic example found in the Scriptures of a brother who craved overlordship is Diotrephes (3 John 9). He loved the preeminence to such an extent that the apostle John was not received. When the government and administration of a congregation falls into the hands of one man who presides in the capacity of Diotrephes, this congregation is headed the wrong direction. Elders are not permitted to assume authority in this manner. Peter states they are not to be "lords over God's heritage." (1 Pet. 5:3). When a Diotrephes or elders lord it over the flock, the administration of a congregation is not what it should be and never will be until such is corrected. All decisions under the heading of government or administration of a congregation must be made with the aim in view: What is best for the whole congregation? Will this decision aid toward the proper environment and scriptural growth of the entire church? Selfish ambitions based upon personal motives are wrong because they are designed to gain one's mint ways rather than the good of the congregation.

Scholars define the word "church" as an assembly or congregation of God's people in the specific sense of a "community" in which all share in the fellowship in Christ Jesus and all must work for the interest and good of the entire community or congregation. In such a work there is no place for personal selfish ambition. When such is introduced, part or all of the congregation must suffer.

A congregation or body of believes consists of individuals (1 Cor. 12). The congregation does not exist for the good of one believer but for all within its confines.

Christianity is the only true religion. It is based anon the word of God in the New Testament and is a re-Helen which must he taught. This is the only means God has given for its promotion among unbelievers and for the edification or upbuilding of the congregation.. No one can come to the Savior except God draw him. But in the next verse Jesus explains how the drawing is done: "They shall 911 he taught of God." (John 6:44.45). Concerning sinners Jesus commanded the apostles to "Go teach all nations." (Matt. 28:19), Timothy is to "preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:2) to sinners and brethren. The work of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers was created by Jesus "for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ." (Eph. 4:12). All the aforementioned are works or functions which relate to the giving, preaching or teaching of the word of God. All this proves the first statement made: For proper growth of a congregation, there must be correct preaching and teaching.

No congregation can succeed without interest or zeal on the part of all the members. The statement by Paul in the Galatian letter covers all activity: "But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good matter at all times." (4:18). Whether the effort be in reaching the lost, in attendance in Bible classes or worship or whatever it might be, brethren must enter into it with zeal and interest. But zeal must be guided in the right direction. Paul spoke of the Jews: "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." (Rom. 10:2). Zeal out of control can create havoc, but brethren must enter into an active participation of the work of the congregation in carrying out God's will. When the body of Christ functions properly, when each member finds his place and fulfills his duties in the congregation, success is sure. The problems therefore are within the church, not without. Defects within can defeat the Lord's work — not those without.