Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 29, 1954

God's Warnings Are To Be Heeded

C. D. Crouch

One law of human life that we should ever keep before our minds is, that human nature in all its essential elements remains the same in all ages of the world, and in all lands. The patent reason for this is that human beings are human beings. God "hath made of one blood all nations of men", and since we are all of the same "common clay", and are all "compassed about" with the same infirmities, our nature remains the same.

When the church of our Lord was established in Jerusalem it was set up by divine authority, and was given "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" to govern its life and to guide all its activities. Its appointments were therefore simple, and perfectly adapted to the needs of the church, and its organization was the acme of simplicity. The universal church has Christ for its head, and his decrees were delivered through his inspired apostles. The local congregation is the organized manifestation of the divine will, and the unit divinely appointed for the perpetuation of the church on earth. Jesus Christ is king in his kingdom; he is head of his church. The decrees of the king constitute the authority by which the church is to function. Any church of the Christ today is a church over which 'Christ rules absolutely.

The early church was influenced in various ways in departing from the simplicity of the ancient order of the divine government. But perhaps the one factor most prominent in the apostasy was the influence the political thinking and political institutions of the times had upon the disciples of the first century. The church was set up when the pagan Roman Empire held sway over the greater part of the world. It was the fourth world power of Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's visions, and was a kingdom that bore "rule over all the earth". The Emperor was supreme. His power was absolute. In that one respect the kingdom of Christ was like it. The Emperor's emissaries were stationed in all parts of the Empire; they ruled for him and were responsible only to him. The early disciples were influenced by such institutions and by the political thinking of the times, to eventually develop an institution, after the exact pattern of that pagan Empire. The Roman Catholic Hierarchy was built up on that exact pattern. Of course it was not built up all at once, by bold departures from the simplicity of the New Testament church. But, slight departures here, and there, were the order of the apostasy. Just a slight change, the manner of organization here, and a slight alteration in the matter of teaching now and then, paved the way for larger departures later on.

Since human nature is the same in all ages, we ought to be warned by the examples of the past. God has warned us by word and by example. We are informed in the "living oracles" that the church "is the pillar and ground of the truth". And since the local congregation, with its divinely appointed board of overseers and deacons is the only organization recognized in the New Testament through which God has authorized us to work for his glory, any attempt upon our part to effect other organizations through which to do the work, is a rejection of God's appointments. God's wisdom is embodied in his appointments, and when man substitutes his own appointments for the appointments of God, he rejects the divine wisdom and substitutes his own.

With the divinely simple organization of the New Testament church the early Christians preached the gospel of Christ to all the world in the lifetime of the apostles. Each congregation was a complete organism and was not organically connected with any other congregation. Each congregation functioned as a complete unit. No congregation in the days of the apostles functioned through another congregation.

During the past twenty years there has been more centralization of power in Washington than was centered there during one hundred and fifty years before this twenty year period. Is it strange to you that during the same twenty year period there has been a corresponding centralization of power in a relatively few churches of Christ? Of course, all of this centralization of power has been accomplished under the guise of "cooperation", and of "helping weak churches", and enlisting them in doing mission work, and benevolent work. By "pooling our resources" we can do much, whereas, "we can do little or nothing" alone!!!!

Some "elders" boldly announce, and publish in "our papers" that they have "the oversight" of work, and churches other than the church where they are supposed to be overseers. The Roman Catholic Hierarchy was set up in exactly the same way. Political institutions and political thinking figured largely in that great apostasy; it may figure in another apostasy just like that one.