Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 11, 1959
NUMBER 6, PAGE 11,14b

The Church On The March

Voyd N. Ballard, Ventura, California

I notice that a great many of the preacher's reports in the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate end by stressing that "the church here is on the march". This, especially after they have told about all the promotional schemes, fellowship dinners, youth forums, encampments, entertainment programs, and all the "Doctors" that have spoken for them. Now I don't doubt for a moment that these churches are "on the march" alright, and the most of them to the tune of the devil and straight for hell.

I believe that the church should be on the march, but I know it cannot march according to the dictates of men and please the Lord. The church is the Army of the Lord, and he alone is the Captain of our salvation. We must, therefore, march by His orders. I am afraid that the Lord's idea of the church on the march does not appeal to many of my brethren. However, for the consideration of those who respect the teaching of our Great Captain, I submit the following as a Bible description of "The Church on the March"

1. She must march by faith: There was a time when all members of the church believed this; we preached it, and stressed it, and begged our sectarian neighbors to accept it. The first time I ever met a denominational preacher in debate on the music question he attempted to affirm that, "Instrumental music in the New Testament Church" is authorized by the Word of God. I attacked that proposition with arguments based on such passages as 2 Cor. 5:7, Rom. 10:17, Heb 11:6, and Rom. 14:23. I have debated several false teachers over a period of 21 years and I have never seen any reason to change those arguments. To walk by faith is to walk by the Word of God. If God's Word does not authorize a practice, then that practice is not, cannot, be by faith, and regardless of how good and pleasing it may seem to us, it is a sin. This application can rightly be made to Instrumental music, entertainment programs, and institutions established by brethren to do the work of the church.

2. SHE MUST MARCH UNAFRAID: Too many today are placing their faith in numbers rather than conversions. I personally am not opposed to numbers. I believe we should be interested in reaching as many as we possibly can, but we must reach them with the gospel, not with appeals to the flesh. I notice where Norvel Young is criticizing some brother for saying he was not stressing numbers. Brother Young calls attention to the large numbers that were added to the Lord under the preaching of the apostles. It would be well for Bro. Young to remember that the "numbers, both men and women" were added as a result of gospel preaching and nothing else. We have no record of any apostle ever giving a lecture or showing a film on the work of a "Christian College", appearing as chief speaker in a "Youth Forum" or acting as master of ceremonies at a College Fellowship dinner. According to W. W. Allen of this city, "Norvel Young, President of Pepperdine College, was featured in an area wide young people's meeting to show a film of the work of Pepperdine College at 174 Anacapa Street (the institutional church here in Ventura — V.N.B.) on Sunday afternoon January 20."

No, we are not opposed to numbers, but we do believe that they must be converted to the Lord before they can be added to the Lord. Many brethren today have put so much stress on numbers that they are afraid to preach the truth. They know that if the truth was preached in a plain uncompromising manner a great number of their unconverted members would quit them, We need to keep in mind that the Lord would rather have 300 converted soldiers who will "march" unafraid and according to his orders, than to have 30 thousand who are so "fearful and afraid" that they must "bow down upon their knees" to drink at the cesspool of institutionalism, liberalism, and downright sectarianism, now being pumped Gospel Advocate style. Read Judges 7:1-7. It is a sad day for the church when we decide that "we be not able" (Num. 13:31) to do what the Lord commands in the way he has revealed. 3. SHE MUST MARCH IN KNOWLEDGE. I truly believe that a lack of knowledge, Bible knowledge, upon the part of our people and our preachers is one of the major causes of the present apostasy. Brethren, it scares me when I read of gospel preachers (?) who can preach an hour without making reference to the Scriptures. Consider this quote from the church of Christ bulletin, Albany, California:

"Bro. King's extemporary speech was ably illustrated last Sunday evening at Albany. He made no reference to texts or testaments during his hour-long address yet his knowledge of the Bible was exemplified repeatedly and prolifically throughout his talk." — Albany Church Bulletin, October 27.

Think of it, brethren! Preachers who speak for an hour and make no reference to the text of the Bible . . . Yet his knowledge of the Bible was exemplified! With such preaching it is no wonder that the church is engaging in so many things unauthorized by the Bible. I have heard Will M. Thompson say over and over again, "The strength of the pew can be measured by the strength of the pulpit". Brother, you take the "text and testament" out of the pulpit, and you have taken it out of the pew. As sure as we live, brethren, "the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the church" today. (Hosea 4:1.) "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 4:6.)

I have just finished reading the book, "J. D. TANT — TEXAS PREACHER". When I think of the hardships, sacrifices, and heartbreaks that such men of God endured in order to obtain a knowledge of the word of God, and of their struggles in the preaching of that word, I am ashamed of the downright ignorance that will cause brethren today to brag about their ability to preach for an hour without reference to text or testament. How long do you suppose that J. D. Tant would have lasted against the enemies of righteousness if he had attempted to preach without reference to text or testament? I tell you it was a knowledge of and faith in the Word of God that gave men like J. D. Tant the courage to meet and overcome the foe in battle after battle. Those were days of preaching, fighting, debating, and the church was truly "on the march". Yes, she marched to real victories under the Banner of Truth. Which brings me to the next point in this lesson —

4. SHE MUST MARCH IN DEFENSE OF THE FAITH: The early church was "set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil. 1:17.) She "contended earnestly for the faith". But many churches no longer believe in contending for the faith. They have left the Bible and could not defend it if their lives depended on it. Men like J. D. Tant met all opponents. Their weapons were the texts and testaments. I would like to see some of these modern preachers try to meet a man like Ben Bogard without making reference to texts or testaments. But they are not going to meet anybody in religious controversy. Their excuse, "I don't believe in debates". Their real reason: They don't know how! Here is another quote from the Albany, California church bulletin, dated Dec. 15, 1958: "The word debate should be eliminated from the Church's vocabulary." I am afraid this expresses the thinking (?) of many brethren today. To such people the Bible is no longer the standard of authority in religion. They are not concerned about authority. Religion is a kind of plaything, and they have made of the church a glorified social club.

To say that we do not believe in debates is to say that we do not believe the Bible. The New Testament is a record of the greatest debate this world will ever know. A debate between Christ and the devil. Our Lord fired the first round in Matt. 4 when he said, "It is written", and that fight has been going on ever since, and it will continue until the end of time. Softies within our own ranks may try to stop the battle, and compromise with the devil in their zeal to be like the nations around us, but the Lord will always have his "seven thousand" that will never bow the knee to Baal. The faithful church will always wage the battle, and the fellows who "don't believe in debates" and who are without benefit of text or testament had better stay out of the line of fire — I don't think we would waste a lot of ammunition on them — but they are likely to get shot accidently.

According to the ideas of some, Paul must have made a big mistake when he told Christians to put on the whole armour of God. Eph. 6. Paul not only tells us to stand against the devil, but also that we are to wrestle (fight) him. But this won't work with a lot of brethren today, because they don't believe in fighting. You know this armour that Paul tells us about is designed to protect every part of the body except the back, and there is a reason for that — The Lord didn't expect us to have our backs to the enemy!

Yes, the true church will always be on the march, hut she will march according as "it is written", not according to what is written in the Gospel Advocate which is now "advocating" a departure from the Divine Pattern, in fact "advocating" that there is no pattern.