Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 27, 1960
NUMBER 25, PAGE 3,14a

Who Is On The Lord's Side?

Clyde Strickland And Robert N. McClung

It appears to me that the Lord's church is presently suffering from schism occasioned by nothing more nor less than (I) our ignoring what we have implored the denominations — "....Speak where the Bible speaks...."; (2) lack of fearless, selfless, dedicated teaching and preaching, and (3) the inclination on the part of most "Christians" to make as little defense of the TRUTH as possible. What has happened to those loyal Christians who, only a few years ago, used as their watchword, "....Thus saith the Lord"? Where are the preachers and elders who, without quavering and without thought of personal gain or loss, taught the truth firmly but with kindness? Where are the preachers who, when exhorting sinners to obey the commandments of the Lord, had such a heartfelt concern for the souls of their hearers that they could not but weep?

Have we gone so far down the road of least resistance, seeking favor with the denominations, courting "learned" preachers and "broadminded" elders, that we have reached the point of no return? How is it that we seem to seek favor with the denominations rather than favor with the Lord? Is Jesus Christ the same today as He was on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? Has the word of God changed with the years, so that it is now a social gospel? What has happened to personal conviction? Who will dare, as Peter, to declare, "....This same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, God hath made both Lord and Christ?" Who will inquire of the Lord, "....What wilt thou have me to do?"

Today, brethren in the Lord seem to be less concerned with what we are to do than with how to do it! We may have become authorities on what the Bible means without discovering what it says! Moses of old cried, "Who is on the Lord's side?" (Ex. 32:26) Today we cry, "Who is on our side?", or more likely, "Who is on my side?" Those who aren't on our (my) side are just naturally wrong. But who is on the Lord's side?

We have preached that we have no other source of authority than the word of God. Brethren disagree on how to do something, and since brother Somebody doesn't agree with me, he's wrong! When the church is being divided over how to do something, it must be time to go back to the "thus saith the Lord" to find out what the church is supposed to be doing in the first place. What is the mission of the church? What are the works required of a Christian (i. e., an individual who has been added by the Lord to His church)? If I can shift my individual responsibilities onto the broad back of the congregation, look at the things I won't have to do (just to name a few):

I. Teach (my children, my neighbors, or anyone else)

2. Preach (pulpit, housetop, radio, or otherwise)

3. Care for orphans and widows (anybody's, anywhere, anytime)

If we can get a "learned" preacher whose personality is such that he can make a good impression on the denominations, I won't have to study God's word or teach my neighbors. If I want to know anything, I can ask the preacher. If my neighbor needs or wants to be taught, I can send the preacher.

But wait! If the various congregations of the Lord's church will all form a great alliance and select one congregation as the "sponsoring church," we can all quit teaching, preaching, and caring for the widows and orphans, either as individual Christians or as sovereign congregations. All we will have to do is send our money to the "sponsors" and tell everyone to tune in to station KWIT, or to whatever station the sponsors contract with, for "our" program. Hallelujah! Then we can get along with, oh, so many fewer preachers. We won't have to care for our widows and orphans — we'll just bundle them up and send them off to the Brotherhood Home and let the Brotherhood take care of them. Selah! (Whatever that means).

If all the time and energy recently spent in wrangling over how to do the work of the church had been expended in determining what is the work of the church, we'd not have solved our problems, but we'd have baptized the denominations out of business and into the Lord. The same epistles which tell us what is the work of the church simultaneously shows us how (through what institution or organization) it was done in apostolic times. If Jesus Christ is the same today, so is His church and so is its work.

One moment, please! Before I get all puffed up with self-righteousness, maybe I'd better look at me. I run down the fellow who believes in the Brotherhood Radio Network Program, but how long has it been since I made an honest effort to teach my neighbor (or anyone else) the way of the Lord? I oppose, sometimes with great bitterness, the Brotherhood Homes for Orphans and the Brotherhood Homes for the Aged and Forsaken, but when did I, as an individual Christian, really try to help old Brother and Sister Destitute? Does the Lord say I have individual responsibility, or does he allow me to turn all such problems over to the local congregation and then the congregation to shift them on to the Brotherhood? If I did the work a Christian ought to do, and each of my brethren followed suit, who would need a Brotherhood Home for anybody?

When the church at Jerusalem was torn by persecution, those who were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. There was no "Brotherhood" sponsor there. Neither was there a Brotherhood Radio Network Program, naturally. But there were Christians, striving earnestly to walk circumspectly before the Lord, teaching sinners the wonderful news of Jesus, the Christ. Soon there were congregations of the Lord's people functioning in many places, each doing the Lord's work. They knew what to do, and they did it! There was no man-made institution in or related to the church in those days, nor was there any need of such. No time, energy, or opportunity was lost in wrangling about how to do the work of the church. When the Lord told His people what the work of the church was, He also told them how (through what institution or organization) to do it! All we need to do today is to study those examples given in the New Testament, as they respect congregational action and co-operation in doing the Lord's work, and follow them.

Whenever man has tried to simplify or to compound the way of the Lord, division has resulted. "Thus saith the Lord" has always been the only right and effective answer to error. The church in early times was able to confound error and silence false teachers with "Thus saith the Lord." But when certain "learned intellects" found a better (?) way to do what the Lord wanted done than He had been able to find, there was born "the great apostasy." Thence came the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Seminaries, the Roman Catholic Homes for orphans and others, the papacy, the dark ages, and many other things, including Bishop Sheen's TV Program!

When the individual Christian shifts his responsibility to the congregation and places his trust in men rather than in God, the congregation finds it easy to surrender its autonomy to the Brotherhood, and we're on the road to "what couldn't happen again" but IS happening anyway.

May we not strive to "remove the ancient landmarks," but, rather, with hearts filled with love of God and brethren, reason together without bitterness and without selfishness, seeking only a "Thus saith the Lord" for all we espouse. Let assassination of character (by anyone and everyone) cease. Let error be slain by truth. Let us all cease pondering "Who is on our side?" and prayerfully, carefully, and diligently seek to know "who is on the Lord's side" that our paths may be joined in truth.