Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 13, 1950
NUMBER 48, PAGE 1,3b

What The New Testament Teaches

Cled E. Wallace

What the New Testament teaches should be considered decisive by all who love the Lord and who propose to be guided in their faith and practice by his revealed will. It is widely admitted that "necessary inference" also furnishes a high degree of authority, but this inference business is highly dangerous unless it is necessary, and proper caution should be used in jumping at conclusions. When God gave his law to Israel, he warned them: "What thing soever I command you, that shall ye observe to do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." (Deut. 12:32.) This principle of loyalty to the divine arrangement is not confined to the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is: "learn not to go beyond the things which are written," (I Cor. 4:6) and "if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God." (I Pet. 4:11.) Advocates of the "simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ" must take these admonitions seriously.

The best and strongest of men are weak, their ideas often wrong and their practice shaky. If they serve God with any degree of success, they must constantly resort to revelation for guidance. A knowledge of the Word of God and loyalty to its principles are absolutely necessary as a guard against apostasy. Departures from revealed truth have always been gradual, and when once a departure becomes institutionalized, it is difficult if not impossible to uproot. The rule is that men love and adhere to institutionalized departures from the word of God, more tenaciously than they do the word of God itself. They even use them as a measure of what is right and wrong. They become so partisan, that to criticize a divine institution such as the church, stirs scarcely a ripple, but criticize a human institution in which they are interested, and it fans the flames of a holy war. It has ever been thus.

A half a century ago, or more, when the fight was on over "organized work," which meant missionary societies for preaching the gospel at home and abroad, the battle was hot and bitter. It would be very nice indeed if discussions could be confined to principles and courtesy everywhere abound, but as long as men are men, and more human than divine, such prospects seem remote. When the Gospel Advocate was fighting missionary societies among the churches, without either giving or asking any quarter, the State evangelist of Alabama, handed this one to F. D. Srygley, who was then the first-page editor of the Gospel Advocate.

F. D. Srygley can sit up cross-legged the third story of the building occupied by the Gospel Advocate Publishing Company and tell the readers of that paper that I am trying to organize a new denomination in Alabama, and draw a large salary for these pernicious misrepresentations, while his own native Alabamians are dying and going to hell in their sins, not having obeyed the gospel.

The societies rode into power over the churches on the crest of popular favor and appealed to prejudice by charging the opponents of unscriptural organization with aiding and abetting people in "dying and going to hell in their sins" and being willing to see:

A thousand workers in foreign lands robbed of their food and clothing and the whole heathen world put into the uncertain and chaotic hands of a disorderly host, anxious to supplant a successful and known method by an individualism without sanction in Scripture and condemned by reason and experience.

The society in those days "was concerted action taken by the church in a universal sense, each congregation determining its own action in the matter, which is exactly like the Apostle Paul did" etc., etc. but as time went on "each congregation" was put under heavier and heavier pressure to "determine its own action" in harmony with the plans of "organized effort." The churches lost their independence to a degree which the first organizers of the societies themselves never dreamed of. But that can never happen to us! The impatience and scorn with which we have been greeted when we raised a voice of warning is not a very satisfactory guarantee of it. Tolerance and forbearance have never been bright and shining characteristics of brethren who are disposed to play with some new toy in religion.

Regardless of what has been said, by oblique inference, that the examples of churches at work in the New Testament, authorize the elders of one church to become a missionary board, through which other churches may operate in preaching the gospel, the New Testament teaches no such thing either by precept or example. It bears the marks of a hasty and non-critical effort to justify something we already have. One good brother is so anxious to prove it in the Firm Foundation that he proposes to prove it by me. He has found something "that will be scriptural according to" me. He will have to find stronger proof than that even before I will accept it. I suggest that he find something in the New Testament. I wouldn't risk myself as far as you can push a bull-dozer uphill, outside the New Testament. All the cavorting the brethren can do outside the New Testament isn't going to count for much in this discussion.

A way back in the long ago, when men were men and fights were fights, and papers were mediums for the discussion of issues, F. D. Srygley took a center shot at State Boards and State evangelists in these words:

It certainly does not require much of a philosopher to see that a church will take more interest, do more work, and pay more money, when it feels that the work is its own and that t is individually and solely responsible for it, than when it feels that the work is merely a general one in which it has only an insignificant part.

Our way of thinking and doing in certain quarters today, make this up-to-date and timely. "It certainly does not require much of a philosopher to see" that a church that can raise $20,000 for "mission work" could do better by concentrating on some worthy project that it can develop and oversee, than to scatter it in driblets all over the world like ashes from a rocket.