Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 26, 1968
NUMBER 21, PAGE 1-2a

The Church Is A College

Lowell D. Williams

A great volume of material has been written concerning the place of colleges in the life and education of our children. It has correctly been taught that a college is an extension of the home, hence it is the parents' (not the church's) responsibility to support the colleges. On the other hand, much less has been said concerning the responsibility of the church in the field of education. The purpose of this article is to observe a few things that God has revealed concerning the church's responsibility in the educational realm.

I do not believe that the colleges operated by our brethren are churches, but I do believe that churches should be colleges. Webster defines a college as "An institution for special or professional instruction; as, a medical college." Just as a medical college specializes in the teaching of medicine, so the church is God's institution (college) which specializes in the teaching of his inspired word. It is a sad paradox that we demand that a Doctor be trained in a medical college, and at the same time take pride in sending our young men to a human institution for "preacher training" rather than demanding that this important job be done in God's divine college.

THE AUTHORITY: The first question in this investigation should be one of authority. Namely, where is the authority for the church to engage in any kind of education? The answer is found in the great commission recorded in Matt. 28:18-19. Jesus demanded three things of his apostles in this commandment. He first commanded them to preach, and by this act "make disciples." Secondly, he commanded them to baptize those who became disciples. Thirdly, he commanded them to teach the disciples whom they had baptized. This last act of teaching included "all things whatsoever I have commanded you." By a casual reading of the New Testament epistles one learnes how the apostles fulfilled this mission. They did it by the churches supporting them as they went forth to preach, baptize, and continue to preach or teach. Paul was supported by churches while baptizing and teaching in Corinth for a period of 18 months (II Cor. 11:8; I Cor. 1:14; Acts 18:11); This example would certainly authorize the church to engage in the three activities stated in the great commission, and one of these activities is to "teach them all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

AN EXAMINATION: An examination of the churches' practice in our generation indicates we have done a fair job of preaching the gospel, and a wonderful job of baptizing those who believe. Any hour of the day or night the baptistry remains prepared, and every gospel preacher stands ready to baptize any subject of the gospel. On this part of the commission we can score ourselves as "excellent."

Now, let us evaluate our practice on the third part of the commission, namely teaching those whom we have baptized to observe "all things whatsoever I have commanded you." It is at this point that we are doing very little to imitate the practice of the church in the New Testament. Results speak louder than words. Our teaching program has produced a generation of people who are ignorant of God's word. It is readily admitted by everyone that ignorance is the basic reason for our present-day apostasy. God, long ago, revealed the result of an ignorant generation when he told Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hos. 4:6) Surveys indicate that Bible class teachers in large congregations cannot score 50% on simple questions concerning the great commission and the plan of salvation. Ten years ago, a questionnaire showed that 60% of the members of a prominent congregation in Abilene, Texas, would not object if instrumental music were introduced into their worship.

Here, then, the question ought to be raised: "Why is this generation so ignorant of God's word?" Would any dare say it is because the church has conducted such an excellent teaching program for its members? What medical School could survive if two-thirds of its graduates went into medical apostasy by giving their patients deadly germs instead of the necessary medicines to destroy the germs? We would be quick to suggest that such a Medical School re-evaluate its teaching techniques. This, in reality, has happened to the church of the Lord. In our present division, every person who advocates practices not authorized by God is feeding the human race germs that will destroy their souls. The church has divided, with the vast majority going into apostasy because it has failed to teach its members "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." We raise the question: Is there a pattern observed by the New Testament churches that gave them such success in that first century? We believe there is!

— Next week: "God's College in Action — 11523 Holmes Point Dr. N. E., Kirkland, Washington 98033