Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 3, 1956
NUMBER 1, PAGE 27,30b

The Sufficiency Of The Church

C. D. Plum, Columbus, Ohio

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines the word sufficiency like this: "Sufficient means to meet one's needs; competency. Quality or state of being sufficient; adequacy; enough. Self sufficiency."

Since the church was designed by Divine wisdom, the sufficiency of the church means that the church as God gave it meets His needs, is adequate.

I. To Deny The Sufficiency Of The Church Is To Impeach The Wisdom Of God, Of His Divine Plan, And Of His Divine Program.

1. If God's plan and program for His church is a failure, man is left without chart or compass in his religious realm because: "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23.) Both "angels" and "men" who would "pervert" God's plan and program, who would "add to" or "take away from" His plan and program for His church, are living under the "curse" of God. (Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19.) If the church as God gave it to us lacks sufficiency (is a failure), who is to supply that which is lacking since: "The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men"? (1 Cor. 1:25.) And since, too: "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God"? (1 Cor. 3:19.)

2. The sufficiency of the church, of God's plan and program for His church, is assured by the wisdom of Him who sees the end from the beginning. "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18.) According to God's plan for the church, it was so sufficient that, in the short space of about thirty-one years, the church as the church, and only the church, without establishing any "missions" or "colleges," or setting up "sponsoring" churches to exercise a sort of centralized control and oversight of the work of a number of congregations, did preach the gospel to "every creature which is under heaven." (Col. 1:23.) This doesn't read like insufficiency of the church to me. Let all of us poor, puny mortal men memorize this scripture: "Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that replieth against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" (Rom. 9:20.) Let the critics of the church, who do not believe in the sufficiency of the church, apply this question to the church. Shall the thing formed (the church) say to Him (God) that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

II. To Deny The Sufficiency Of The Church Is To Impeach The Wisdom Of Jesus Who Built The Church According To The Divine Pattern.

1. It was prophesied that Jesus was to build the church. "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." (Psalm 127:1.) Jesus said of the church: "Upon this rock I will build my church." (Matt. 16:18.) The Holy Spirit informs us that this promise to build the church was fulfilled by Jesus. We read of this church (or true tabernacle), "A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." (Heb. 8:2.) If the church is insufficient in its Divine design, as some seem to think, since they are trying to prop it up with the wisdom of man, it makes one think it reflects against Jesus, and that He went to a lot of trouble for nothing.

2. God has always been particular about his plan and program being carried out in detail. It has been so all down through the ages. He told Noah to build the ark of "gopher wood." He gave him the exact specifications and he was commended in "building the ark by faith." (Heb. 11:7.) Noah did not supplement God's instructions concerning the ark with wisdom of his own, or that of another. Moses was to make all things "according to the pattern" showed to him in the mount. (Heb. 8:5.) No deviations allowed. Nadab and Abihu lost their lives in failing to adhere strictly to the pattern of burning incense. (Lev. 10:1-2.) Even Jesus let it be known that he was limited in activity to the exact will of the Father. (John 12:49-50.) Hence, we had better accept the church as the Lord gave it to us. The Divine pattern is set. "Forever, 0 Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89.) The Lord has revealed in his word "what" the church should do, and "how" the church should do it. Let us respect God's boundary lines.

III. To Deny The Sufficiency Of The Church Is To Impeach The Divine Revelation Of The Holy Spirit.

1. That the Holy Spirit through the apostles gave us a complete revelation of Christ's message, is believed by all those who believe the teaching of John 14:26. It is here declared: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." This is in strict harmony with the teaching of Jesus: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35.) The church surpasses the tabernacle service, and the temple service. The church presents bodies as living sacrifices. (Rom. 12:1-3.)

All scripture is given. The revelation is complete and final. No room for a Joseph Smith, or a Brigham Young, or Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, or Mrs. White. "According as His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue." (2 Peter 1:3.) This revelation left "sponsoring" churches out, which exercise centralized control and oversight of other congregations.

2. The Christian's scope of activity is completely and safely outlined. It is said to the church: "Ye are complete in Him." (Col. 2:10.) We do not need human aids for the work of the church any more than we need human aids for the worship of the church. We no more need human institutions for the benevolent work of the church than we need human institutions for the teaching work of the church. Has the Holy Spirit failed in not authorizing human institutional aids?

IV. To Deny The Sufficiency Of The Church Is To Impeach The Divine Authority Of Its Government Under Christ Its Read.

1. Christ's connection with the church is delegated authority. All the authority he had was given to him. He said as much. Hear him: "All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28:18.) Bible students understand that God gave Jesus this authority. A careful study of Ephesians 1:17-23 will reveal that God gave Jesus his power (authority). God gave Jesus to be the head of the church. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." Again we read: "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Col. 1:18.) We must look to Jesus and his word, not to commentators and their comments. Can we believe that Jesus heads an insufficient church, a church that cannot function without human props?

2. We view the church from the standpoint of a kingdom. Jesus is "King of Kings." (Rev. 17:114.) Yet if this kingdom is insufficient without the aid of human wisdom, we have a mighty Monarch, but he is helpless. Really, now, is Jesus the head of an impotent body; the King of an impotent kingdom; the captain of an impotent army. Yes, if the church is insufficient. But Divine revelation allows no such conclusion.

V. To Deny The Sufficiency Of The Church Is To Lay No Higher Stress Upon God's Ways Than Upon Man's Ways — Whereas. The Church Represents God's Ways Versus Man's Ways

1. God's way of being buried in baptism is advocated faithfully by the church, and should be. Here we hew to the line. We follow the pattern. The plan is plain we say. We must adhere to it as revealed. Just as ardently we contend that baptism is "for" the remission of sins. Any other purpose of baptism differing from this is insufficient. And so it is. To those who "pour" or "sprinkle" for baptism, and who teach baptism has nothing to do with our salvation, we point out to them the error of their ways in this. And we should.

2. God's way is to "sing in the midst of the church." (Heb. 2:12.) We quote scripture to prove it. We warn against instrumental music in church worship. And we should. We say there is no scripture for it, and there isn't. We tell our denominational friends if they want to be right they'll have to give up such music in church worship.

3. And faithful brethren still point out that we cannot improve upon God's way of supporting preaching, like the Philippians sent directly to Paul at Thessalonica. (Phil. 4:15-17.) There are others, however, that say this support can be sent by one congregation "to" and "through" another sponsoring church to the preacher. But like those who sprinkle for baptism, and like those who use instrumental music in church worship, the brethren among us who ignore Philippians 4:15-17, and advocate this sponsoring church type of cooperation always forget to give scripture for such a practice. Do you know why? I do. They don't have any to give, no more so than those who sprinkle, and those who use instrumental music in church worship. If they had it they'd give it. They would forget the so-called "eternal principle." They would call those scriptures from the house tops. They would shout them from the pulpits. They would write them in "our" papers. They would even write them on a postal card.