Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 4, 1959
NUMBER 5, PAGE 9a-11a

"Mark Ye Well Her Bulwarks"

Forrest Darrell Moyer, Sunnyvale, California

"Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following." (Ps. 48:13)


In the passage above the Psalmist is praising and magnifying God for the greatness of Zion. Zion was a name applied to Jerusalem, or to certain parts of it, by David and other prophets. However, the church of my Lord is the spiritual Zion (Heb. 12:22). The plea of David in this text is certainly needed in Zion today — "mark ye well her bulwarks that ye may tell it to the generation following."

A bulwark is a defensive wall or rampart; a fortification; a defense. There is always the necessity of "considering the ramparts" of the church and "marking them well." Today as much as ever before, we need to point out the great elements of strength of the church of God, and we need to draw the line sharply and distinctly so that every member may know what these bulwarks are. When the pioneer preachers of the Restoration kept these bulwarks before the people, the church grew in the power of divine strength. When some ceased to "mark them well", the innovations of the missionary society and instrumental music came in and tore down portions of the ramparts of the spiritual Jerusalem.

David's reason in urging people to "mark well the bulwarks" was "that ye may tell it to the generation following." The Bible sets forth clearly the marks of identity of the Lord's church, and we are duty-bound to declare these to all mankind. If we continue in the present trends, I wonder if these marks will be made visible to those of the next generation. The church today has advanced because sound gospel preachers of the past generations have had the courage to draw the line between truth and error. They proclaimed Bible truths with such clarity and force that people knew what the church stood for. Do the people know now? Will our children know the "Bulwarks of the faith"? Let us consider some of these great elements of strength and then seek to proclaim them with fervor to our children and to all of the next generation that God's army may advance in the power of His might and not in the schemes of puny human beings.

I. No Creed But The Bible

Throughout the first century of the Restoration Movement, the cry of gospel preachers was, "Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent." This is a bulwark of Zion that should be marked well.

1) The Scriptures are an all-sufficient rule of faith and practice, containing "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." (2 Pet. 1:3). They are "given by the inspiration of God and (are) profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Any man who speaks is exhorted to "speak as the oracles a God." (I Pet. 4:11). This means that when the Scriptures set forth God's will, we have no choice but to accept and obey it.

2) But we must respect the silence of the Scriptures as well. "Where the Bible is silent, we are silent." We are commanded not to "go beyond the things that are written." (1 Cor. 4:6). "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9). It is wrong and sinful to add to God's word whether it be in the written creeds of denominationalism or in the oral creed of some man's opinion or hobby.

3) Thus, an appeal to any other authority in things religious is out of harmony with this plea of "no creed but the Bible." Brethren, mark it well! In much of the controversy today there is too much appeal to the writings of uninspired men! When considering some issue of paramount importance, we are prone to ask, "What did David Lipscomb, or Alexander Campbell, or J. W. McGarvey say? What does Brother Blank say about it?" I fear that this is treading on the pathway of sectarianism. The question should always be, "What does the Bible say?" Now, I appreciate the work of all gospel preachers and Bible scholars both living and dead, and we need to study what they wrote. But when it comes to any doctrinal issue, let us go to the Bible. If the Bible does not teach a thing, all the writings of these noble men could not change it one iota. If the Bible does teach it, then what they say could not add one whit to the authority of it. Mark this bulwark well that ye may tell it to the generation following!

II. No Organization But The Church

God planned and purposed he church for a definite task — that through it might be known the manifold wisdom of God. The church came from the hand of God in perfection and purity. It was fully equipped to do every work for which it was planned. The church was and is all-sufficient to the task God gave to it. We have no scriptural authority for establishing other institutions through which to do or help to do the work of the church. Let the church be the church, and let the church do its own work. I marvel at the lack of understanding many members show concerning what the work of the church is. Some seem to believe that just any good work is the work of the church — secular education, recreation for young and old, fighting disease, taking care of ALL the starving and needy of the world, etc. Perhaps the work of the church has not been emphasized enough.

In marking well the bulwarks of Zion, we must implant these truths into the hearts of church members:

1) What the work of the church is. Paul tells us that the divine purpose of the church is to glorify God; it is not to be the means of glorifying men or illuminating some human scheme or human institution. The New Testament sets forth a three-fold responsibility for the church:

a) Preaching to the lost. The church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). The church was built that through it might be known God's wisdom (Eph. 3:10- 11.)

b) Edifying the saints (Eph. 4:12-14)

c) Helping needy saints (1 Cor. 16:1-2; Rom. 15:26).

I have yet to find Bible authority permitting the church to enter into other works than these.

2) The local congregation is the only unit of organization that the church has. There are no arrangements made for any organization larger than the local church.

3) Each local congregation is autonomous and works under the oversight of her own elders. The only thing that these elders are over is "the flock which is among you." (1 Pet. 5:2). In New Testament times there was no combination of congregations into a "diocese". There was no extending of authority of one eldership over any other group of elders.

Autonomy Consists Of Three Important Phases:

a) Independent organization — the local congregation. (1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1)

b) Independent government — elders in each local church (Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5)

c) Independent function — there could be no other purpose for an independent organization and independent government than this.

Autonomy is violated when any one of these things is violated. To form a larger organization than the local church or to have a diocesan form of government would violate autonomy. However, autonomy can be violated in function as well. If a congregation functions through another organization (college, missionary society, or benevolent home) or through another church (sponsoring church), autonomy is violated because independent function is no longer respected. The church must function directly to the object of its work. If the object is preaching, it sends directly to the preacher. If it is the relief of a congregation in want (one unable to do its peculiar work, such as Jerusalem in Rom. 15:26), it sends directly to the church in want.

4) The church is sufficient to do her own work.

a) It is sufficient in preaching the gospel. The Jerusalem church is a good example of this. The number of disciples grew and multiplied because the "word of God increased." (Acts 6:7). There is no need for a missionary society through which the church can preach. Furthermore, it is wholly unnecessary to have a sponsoring church with a centralization of power. When Philippi aided Paul financially, they sent directly to him (Phil. 4:15-16; 2:25). Many congregations are now imitating the example of the Philippian church by sending directly to the workers in the field. There can be no question as to the scripturality of such practice.

b) The church is sufficient in edification. It is not necessary to build and maintain a Bible college or Sunday school organization to do the work of edifying. The local congregation can do this work by a well-arranged teaching program including Bible classes in the building and cottage classes in the homes. Adequate Bible classes can be taught without starting a separate institution as is done so many times in the denominations of our day. When the members of the Jerusalem church were scattered abroad because of persecution, they went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4) thus evidencing the fact that they had been edified sufficiently for that task. In edification, the church is sufficient.

c) The church is sufficient in giving benevolent help to the needy saints. In Acts 6 we see this demonstrated. When a problem arose in the ministration to the Grecian widows, the apostles appointed seven men to look after this matter. They didn't feel it necessary to send them to an institutional home somewhere, nor did they establish one themselves. The church was sufficient then, and it is today. If individual Christians would fulfill their responsibility, and each local congregation would do her own work, there would be no need for any type of institutional home through which the church would seek to operate.

The church is not sufficient to do every good work in the world — it was not designed for such. But it is sufficient to do the work God gave it to do. May God help us to mark well this bulwark — no organization but the church — "that ye may tell it to the generation following."

III. No Worship But That Which The New Testament Auhorizes

Worship is not for worldly entertainment nor can it be accomplished through worldly wisdom. Worship is directed to God, and its primary purpose should be to please Him. Let us mark these following citadels:

1) God is the object of proper worship. Man cannot be worshipped by man (Acts 10:25-26). Angels are not proper objects (Rev. 22:8-9). The words of the angel to John were: "Worship God."

2) Worship must be in truth — the right way. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24). To worship God in truth means that we worship as God directs in His word (John 17:17).

3) The proper motive is to prevail in worship — in spirit. It is not enough to go through a form of worship. We might say the words of a beautiful prayer, sing songs as if by rote; yet this should accomplish nothing unless they are directed by the proper motive and disposition of mind. I often wonder as to the purpose of the choirs and quartets in our "singings". Could it be that they are to entertain? If entertainment is not the purpose, then what is?

4) The proper acts should be engaged in: THE LORD'S SUPPER (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:26); PRAYER (Acts 2:42); GIVING (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 and 9); SINGING (Eph. 5:19). The lighting of candles, the counting of beads, pie suppers, bazaars, and instruments of music have no place in acceptable worship to God.

May we have the wisdom to declare it unto the generations that are yet to come.

IV. No Saving Power But The Gospel

When the apostles went forth preaching to the lost, their message was not some philosophical teaching or moral code. They preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified; they preached the cross; they preached the gospel. The only thing that will save men and women today is that same gospel story of a crucified and risen Savior. This gospel demands faith in Him (John 8:24); it requires repentance of our sins (Luke 13:3). Faith causes us to confess Jesus before men and leads us to be buried with Him in baptism for the remission of sins (Rom. 6:3-5); Acts 2:38). Never at any time should we cease to preach this gospel plan of salvation. If we cease to "mark it well," thousands who should be saved might be lost.


Ours is a great heritage. We have heard about the heroic efforts of those men who have pioneered in various places in the proclamation of the gospel. Certainly we should appreciate their efforts and give to them the credit due them. It is not enough for those old soldiers of the cross to have won the battles and secured the fortress for the cause of Christ and then for us to allow the enemy to creep in and take that fortress. Hence, there is ever the necessity of our heeding the words of David: "Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following."