More Questions On Evangelism
Many questions on how preachers in "mission fields" should be paid by the churches are received with the request for answers. Though these questions are worded differently, they all must have about the same answer.
A brother who works with a small church in Iowa writes, "I read your article in the Gospel Guardian on how to pay a preacher. I want to ask some questions regarding the subject". He explains that contributions from several churches and part time secular work have supplemented the wages received from the little church with which he labors. His income from all sources is still far below what it should be. He says that he has advised contributing churches to send their contributions either to him or to that little church in Iowa. He does not see the "essential difference" between sending money for evangelistic work directly to the preacher and sending
it to the weak church where the preacher ministers. He says, "If you can help me in any way, I would appreciate it". Here are his questions:
1. What is the essential difference in a strong church sending an evangelist to a weak church to hold them a meeting, and their sending the weak church money so the weak church could pay some one to hold a meeting?
2. What would be the difference in the church here using its collections for the preaching of the gospel by tract and radio and other churches supporting me here; and the church here supporting me and other churches sending money so we could do this work in our community? Or, to put it another way: The churches which are sending to me are virtually sending to the church here to print literature; for, in helping with my support, they are leaving the local contributions free to be used for these other purposes.
The difficulty in finding the correct answer to a question sometimes is due to the way the question is worded. When the superfluous, ambiguous and confusing words and phrases of the above questions are displaced by plain terms of the Bible, the answer also is made easy to find and plain.
Why use the expression, "to hold them a meeting?' Doesn't the brother merely mean, "preach the gospel to both saint and sinner"? Well, why not say it that way? Why all of this in his questions about printing "literature" and "tract and radio"? Is not all of this work merely the work of preaching the gospel? Then, why not call it that and make the answers much easier to discover and to understand? My helpers and I have written a dozen books of questions for Bible classes and home study, and we know that questions must be worded in a way that students can see the relation between the question and the answer given in the scripture reference or students will not understand the answer after they read it in the Bible. The extensive circulation of hundreds of thousands of these books and the enthusiasm with which they have been received by Bible students in every state in the Union and in several foreign countries have been due largely to the simplicity of the questions and the ease with which the answers are found in the Bible.
The greatest obstacle to this Iowa brother's finding a solution to his problem perhaps lies in the complicated form in which the question exists in his mind and in which he expresses it on paper. In compliance with his request to "help" him "in any way" I can, I first shall simplify his question.
The brother's entire problem and everything he asks can be reduced to one simple question: What is the essential difference in a church's sending wages directly to preachers and in a church's sending donations to other churches in order that other churches may pay preachers? Or, the question may be stated this way: What was the essential difference in "other churches" sending wages directly to Paul and in "other churches" sending donations to the church in Corinth or Rome with which to pay Paul while he was ministering to the churches in those cities? I think that every sincere seeker of truth who finds the answer to this question will see clearly the essential difference in a church's managing its own work in "preaching of the gospel by tract and radio" and in a church's turning over the management of its money to another church in "preaching of the gospel by tract and radio".
The "essential difference" between Romanism and the New Testament; the "essential difference" between what the Bible says and what the Bible does not say, is the answer to the brother's questions.
The Bible proclaims definitely and clearly that "other churches" by their own chosen messengers sent support directly to Paul while he preached the gospel in Corinth (II Cor. 11:8), Rome and other places (Phil. 2:25, 4:14-18). But no passages of scripture contains even the remotest indication that any church ever sent one dime to another church for the work of evangelization. Is there no "essential difference" between what the Bible says and teaches and what the Bible neither says nor teaches? "We are not divided on what the Bible says; we are divided on what the Bible does not say." An "essential difference" exists between what the Bible says and what it does not say. A failure to recognize this fact results in strife and division.
During the first few centuries after the death of the apostles of Christ, the most scholarly and influential men in the church failed to see the "essential difference" in a church's using its own funds in preaching the gospel and a church's surrendering control of its funds for another church to use in preaching the gospel. A few did see the difference, but the majority did not see it; therefore, in a short while nearly all of the resources of the churches were under the control of three churches: Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople. But the centralization could not stop with three churches in control. All resources inevitably had to come under the control of only one; the Roman Catholic Hierarchy was the result.
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the most scholarly and influential men in the church failed to see the "essential difference" between a church's sending wages directly to the preacher in distant places and a church's sending donations to a missionary society and letting the society pay the preacher. A few did see the difference, but the majority did not see it;
the United Christian Missionary Society is the result.
If no man on earth could see the "essential difference" which the Catholics and other digressives cannot see, the fact would remain that the Bible contains neither precept nor precedent authorizing any church's sending a donation to another church for the work of evangelization; but it does, by divinely approved example, authorize "other churches' " sending wages directly to the preacher in distant lands. The world is the field assigned to every church; the whole world is every church's "own field" in the work of preaching the gospel. No man can find any scriptural authority or give any sensible reason for a church's sending contributions to another church for evangelizing the contributing church's "own field".
Oh yes, I know that Tom Warren and a few other hobby-riding radicals have tried to prove that churches sent donations to the church in Corinth and to the church in Rome that they might pay Paul's wages while he ministered to those churches; but not many gospel preachers have sunk that low in the devil's soul destroying work of wresting the scriptures.
Paul himself states clearly how and when he received his support in Corinth and in Rome. "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you; and when I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want" (II Cor. 11:8,9). The brethren from Macedonia supplied his want "when they came from Macedonia", and not when they delivered money for his wages to the Corinthian church and the church there decided to turn it over to Paul; but "when they came from Macedonia" his want was supplied by the brethren "from Macedonia". How can any sincere soul fail to see how it was done?
Regarding the way he received his support in Rome, Paul himself says, "I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from you" (Phil. 4:15). Paul, how did you receive the things that came from the church at Philippi? "From Epaphroditus" he says. Didn't he receive those things from the church in Rome after the Philippian church had sent them there? No, he did not, unless Epaphroditus was the church in Rome, for he says he received them "from Epaphroditus." Well, who was Epaphroditus? Paul himself answers that. "Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need" (Phil. 2:25). Which was Philippi's "messenger and minister" to Paul's need? Was the church at Rome Philippi's "messenger and minister" to Paul's need, or was it Epaphroditus? Paul says that Epaphroditus was it and Relieve him.
Having answered the brothers second question, I now shall answer his first question as he worded it.
"The essential difference in a strong church sending an evangelist to a weak church to hold them a meeting, and their sending the weak church money so the weak church could pay some one to hold a meeting" is precisely the same as the difference between what the Bible says and what the Bible does not say. The Bible says that the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch, not merely "to hold them a meeting", but to do exactly what Barnabas did while in Antioch: he "taught much people". Because of this divinely approved example, we know that one church may send a preacher to another church or to any other place or thing on the earth to teach "much people". But the Bible is as silent on a church's sending money to a weak church "so the weak church could pay some one to hold a meeting", as it is silent on a church's sending money to a missionary society so the missionary society could pay some one to hold a meeting. The silence of the scriptures must be respected.
I do not know why the Modernistic preachers, who are wresting the scriptures in defense of Romanism do not turn their collars hind part before, forsake their wives, become Catholic Priests, and be consistent. Since they are headed for Rome, why do they want to drag along at ox-cart speed and trouble the church for two or three hundred years, when they easily could reach their destination at one big leap?