Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 30, 1958
NUMBER 38, PAGE 2-3,13b

Ninety Years Later --A Study Of Congregational Cooperation No. 1

Forrest Darrell Moyer, Napa, California

(Note: This is the transcription of a sermon delivered by Brother Moyer at Novato, Calif., on February 3, 1957.)

Once again it is my happy privilege to be with you good brethren here and to stand in this pulpit once more. For the opportunity that is mine, I am deeply appreciative; and for the study that you are willing to engage in, I am thankful. As we enter this study this afternoon, I want to go back down through the years for a moment. I want to read to you a quotation from a man. It is not read as authority for what we teach, but simply as history and to serve as an introduction for this lesson. It comes from one of the papers of the brotherhood — The Gospel Advocate, March 14, 1867. The writer of this statement was Brother David Lipscomb:

A chief objection we make to your societies is, that they ignore the overruling and guiding hand of God, and organize a human association to do that which God has reserved for himself. God says to man: you operate according to my directions in the various spheres, and with the instrumentalities I ordain for you. I will direct the vast complicated whole forward to the accomplishment of the designed mission without a jar or a discord. All I require of you is to faithfully operate the parts I assign to you. The action of the societies seem to say: No, Lord, we are not content to operate in the limited sphere assigned to us; we will take a general oversight, and take upon ourselves the responsibility of harmony, and controlling the vast whole. We will sit in the place of God, and do His work. The great misfortune to the churches, Brother Munnell, is not a lack of cooperation — but a lack of operation. If man will only faithfully operate, then God will superintend the cooperation. (David Lipscomb, "Discussion — Missionary Societies," Gospel Advocate, Vol. IX, No. 11, Mar. 14, 1867)

Today, ninety years later, I stand before you discussing the same proposition that was being discussed then — the cooperation of congregations.

Today, ninety years later, the discussion is raging just as strongly as it was then — on the same subject — the cooperation of congregations.

Today, ninety years later, there is the ominous threat of division just as there was then.

Today, ninety years later, there is a solution to the problem, just as there was then — the same solution that there was then.

This afternoon I want to study this great question so that we can both understand the problem and see the solution to it. To do so, I want to go below the surface and study with you some of the basic fundamentals and plant them firmly in our minds so that you may properly apply God's word to any and every problem that may arise and come out with the right answer: God's answer.

I am not here just to discuss some of the things you see on the surface of the problems confronting the church today. But if I can help you to understand clearly one outstanding principle, our time will have been well spent. And that fundamental principle is this:


I am fully persuaded that the most serious problem that we have now is not just the cooperation of congregations; it is not just the idea of human institutions doing the work of the church; but the basic and most fundamental problem is that of the authority of God's word. We hear such statements as this: "We practice many things now for which we cannot bring authority." This was said to me in a public debate a few months ago, and many of you here heard the statement made. Now that is the idea that is causing the turmoil and the threat of division in the church today. Recently, an elder in a church said, in admitting that there were no such arrangements as are currently being practiced contained in the New Testament, "We do lots of things now that they didn't do in New Testament days." And I believe fully that this is the very basis and root of our problem — the authorization that God gives.

A. First, Jesus recognized God as the source of all religious authority. Hear Him: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (John 4:34). Again, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." (John 5:30). Once more: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me." (John 6:38). Even Jesus, the Son of God, did not have the right to say, "I will do this," or "I will do that," unless the Great God in Heaven had authorized Him to do so. He recognized that God, the Father, was the only source of authority. Everything that Jesus did had the authority of God behind it. That attitude of Jesus toward the authority of God is fundamental.

B. Not only is that true concerning Jesus, but it must be true concerning the Christian. Over in 2 Cor. 5:17 Paul says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The Christian sustains a new relationship — "all things are become new." But where do these "all things" come from? In verse 18 we learn that "all things are of God." Everything we do connected with our new relationship must be "of God" i.e., they must have the authorization of God to be acceptable. These things, being of God, are given to man in the word as we learn from vv 18-19. Now the point is this: "all things" are, yea, must be of God to be acceptable to Him.

C. Therefore, everything that man does religiously must be by God's authority. Those who act in the realm of religion without the authority of God are lost. And I make no apology for saying that for this is what Jesus said. Open your Bibles to Matthew 7:21-23: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Now who is going to heaven? Why, those who "do the will of the Father in Heaven." Well, what about those who, in Jesus' name, did "many wonderful works"? Won't they go to heaven? Let us see! Jesus will say to some of them: "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Here you find two classes of people. You find on one side those who do the will of God, and Jesus says they go to heaven. You find on the other side those who work iniquity, and Jesus says they are lost. What did they do? They worked iniquity. Now, what does it mean to work iniquity? What does "iniquity" mean? We look it up and find that Thayer defines "iniquity" as: "The condition of one without law. Matt. '7:23." Look at the chart:

Chart Goes Here

"The will of God" versus "Iniquity"

nomos anomos, anomia

"A command, Law." "The condition of one

James 1:25 without law. Matt. 7:23"


The Greek word, nomos, means "a command, law." It is used in James 1:25 speaking of the "perfect law of liberty." Here you see God's authority; it is God's law. We have authority when we have law. But on the other side of the chart we see the word, anomos or anomia. It is defined as "The condition of one without law." (Thayer). This is the word used in Matt. 7:23. What were those people doing? They were working that which was without law or which was unauthorized. Those who practice things without authority are said to be "working iniquity." Look at what they did! They prophesied in Jesus' name. They cast out devils in Jesus' name. Why, they did many wonderful works in Jesus' name. Yet they were condemned. Were they condemned because they did some moral wickedness? Such is not mentioned at all. So far as their moral lives are concerned, you cannot bring one charge against them. In fact, Jesus admitted that they did many wonderful works — good works, mind you. Is there anything wrong with one's doing good works? No, not within itself, unless something else is violated. What was wrong with these people? They were acting without law or without authority. The good works that these people did, regardless of how good they were, were without authority; and Jesus said such was wrong. Such cannot be right when the authority is not behind it. Ladies and Gentlemen, can we not understand this basic and fundamental principle ? All the good works that we may do are to no avail unless they are authorized or have the authority of God behind them. I hear people say, "Such-and-such is a good work." Well, granted that it might be, but it is not good religiously unless it is authorized by God himself. There is the difference, then; on one side the people acted with God's authority by doing the "will of the Father." On the other side they acted without that law and were condemned They are on the wrong side now, and they will be in eternity.

Now we find a similar idea in 2 Thes. 2:7 where Pau] says, "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.' "Mystery" simply means that which is hidden, or some thing that is not seen. And the word "iniquity," as WE have already pointed out, means without law or without authority. Paul is saying here that there is something without law or authority that is already working, but it is hidden. You can't see it just yet, but it is here. We al realize that every single departure from God's divine pat tern begins in that very way. A person can't see it a first. It begins in just a small way — just a little bit — just a slight variation. But that departure of which Paul is speaking eventually resulted in the Roman Catholic church. A very alight deviation at first, but finally a complete and whole-scale apostasy from God's word. That is why we must be critical of every trend, lest we practice that which is without the authority of God.

D. Friends, God's authority has always been supreme in religion in every age. If we can understand this, then my lesson this afternoon will have been well worth while.

1. Consider Cain and Abel who, back in the early dawn of time, both brought an offering unto the Lord. It was to the right source — Almighty God. And both of them were willing to sacrifice something. But the Bible says that God had respect unto Abel's offering, but unto Cain's offering God had not respect. Why? Why didn't God have respect unto the offering of Cain? Simply because Cain offered it without authority. In Hebrews 11:4 we find that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith. In Romans 10:17 we learn that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. God had to have spoken for Abel's offering to have been by faith. God had spoken, but Cain brought that which God had not authorized, which God had not told him to bring, and God did not respect it. And, brethren, when we bring to God some instrumentality or some element that is not authorized, God does not have respect unto that particular thing.

2. But look again! In Lev. 10:1 we read of the sin of Nadab and Abihu, priests of the Most High God. These priests came into the service of God, but when they came, the record says that they offered "strange fire, which God commanded them not." The "strange fire" was something that God hadn't authorized. God hadn't said to bring that kind of fire. God had told them the kind of fire that was to be used — a divine element. But they offered common fire which God had not told them to use. Offering that which was not authorized caused God himself to destroy those priests! Why? Weren't they serving God? Yes, Sir! Weren't they offering something to God? Yes, Sir! What was wrong with this service? It was without authority for God had not commanded that kind of fire. So we can see that our service must have the authority of God behind it.

3. I ask you this question, Ladies and Gentlemen, can we practice anything without the authority of God behind it today in the realm of religion? Answer: No, Sir! We cannot! We dare not! But think of the statement I gave you a moment ago now: "We practice many things for which we cannot bring authority." Think of that! An outright admission! Trying to prove a thing scriptural (and that was what his proposition said) by saying we do many things that we cannot bring authority for. Or, "We do lots of things now that they didn't do in New Testament days." You think of that, and realize that if we are to restore the ancient order, we must go by God's authority completely. God says, "I will direct, I will oversee, you use the instrumentalities that I give you, you operate according to my directions and I will see that things move forward as they should."

Therefore, the operation and cooperation of churches must be in harmony with God's authorization. Will anyone deny it? Will anyone say, "I think churches may cooperate in ways which God didn't authorize?" Surely not!

(More to follow)