Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 21, 1949

The Future Will Need Watching

Cleon Lyles, Little Rock, Arkansas

The more important anything is the more dangerous it becomes. For this reason inventions that have been created for man have been turned against him. Some of our most valuable possessions often become our downfall. It is wise, therefore, that we always makes proper use of that which has been left in our trust, whether it be of material or spiritual value.

When Jesus was on earth he attracted great multitudes. Some were moved by his simple gospel. More were moved by what he was able to do for them. Those who desired to be healed, and could find no healing any other place, were glad to turn to him. What could they lose? Those who had no way of making a living, whether by circumstances or by choice, were glad to follow him for the loaves and fishes. When the food ran out they were ready to go home.

The benevolent work of the church has been sadly neglected. That it was an outstanding work of the early church we are all well aware. But we also know that it was abused, and some writers of the Bible had to deal with this abuse. I doubt that we can find an example where assistance was ever held out as an inducement to cause people to listen to the gospel message. Most examples of benevolence we have, had to do with the poor saints. The early church did not use food and clothing as an "approach to the gospel." It does not take a lot of deep thinking to see that getting a person to obey the gospel because of his hunger is of no more value than crying him in through some favorite sob story.

As the church grows stronger we will face this problem more than ever. Naturally it was not very inviting for people to become members of the church when it was poor and small. As it grows in popularity we can be assured that the loaves and fishes will not be ruled out as an inducement. I remember writing an article a few years ago (which I believe I destroyed), concerning preachers of the second apostasy "placing membership" in the Lord's church. At that time one had just "placed membership." The brotherhood was encouraged to take him in and give him some work of teaching. It seemed to me that someone should know how much of the old ideas were still left in him, but brethren did open their arms to him. This certainly should be done if a person is deserving. We have had many who were. They did not "place membership", however, they realized they had been wrong and repented. Soon after this fellow "placed membership", however, he began placing his personal ad in one of our religious papers for a position. Some things about it did not sound just right, so I wrote him a letter. I thought I was being helpful. As a result I received a letter from almost every member of the church in Canada. I was rebuked severely. I decided it was just another time when I had been wrong, so apologized, and let the matter drop. A short time later this man was invited to preach for a good Texas church. That church was divided within a few months time and set back several years in its work. Today this preacher of the second apostasy has his own "undenominational group" out on the west coast, and has completely denied the faith, which I doubt that he ever accepted. There is quite a difference in becoming a member of the church because of conviction and because one is "washed up" in some denomination.

Another example of recent years happened here in our city. A young man of "youth movement" fame was brought to my study. He informed me he was done with denominationalism and wanted the truth. We had several discussions. It was soon learned that he had crossed with a Methodist bishop, which no Methodist should ever do, and just wanted someone else to "sponsor" him in his youth movement. All of his talk about wanting the truth was a smoke screen, and fortunately we were not moved by it, or we might have a "youth movement" in the Lord's church.

If you think these remarks sound like an alarmist just look around you and see how many of our own people are advocating the church building "recreational centers" where our young people can swim in their own swimming pool and listen to their own juke box, as a means of keeping them in the straight and narrow way. Or see how many have turned to "pot luck", suppers as a means of teaching rather than the preaching of the gospel. With such a condition the field would be ripe for some fellow who was a failure in some denomination anyway to really become a great leader in the Lord's church. The future will need watching.