Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 23, 1961
NUMBER 41, PAGE 5,9b

Our Institutions - (III.)

Asa M. Plyler, Jasper, Alabama

In our last article we called attention to the fact that our institutions have helped to bring us to an awful plight; strife, alienation and even hatred are the fruits of our wrong doing. Brethren who have been life-long friends have been separated, frightening and unholy charges have been hurled at men who are true to God as they know how to be. Ultimatums have been laid down, and demands have been made and preachers are told that if they are not "for" our institutions, they cannot preach. It makes no difference how loyal a man may be to his convictions and the word of God, if somebody labels him as an anti, he is ruined in the eyes of a host of brethren, whether they know what the term means or not. Surely the angels of Heaven are made to blush.

How long will our false pride, and our love for "our" institutions keep up such a terrible catastrophe, thus affording the devil the joy of a field day? Do we love the Lord and his church? or is it our own creation and institutions that we are so deeply in love with? Can our loyalty to our institutions take us to Heaven? Did Jesus die to bring our institutions into existence? Are we really thinking or are we just stampeded and panicked? May God help us to see our trouble and see where we stand in his sight.

Now I fully believe that our trouble lies in one thing; namely church support of our institutions. And I am fully persuaded that our trouble will continue until we learn to properly adjust ourselves on this one point. Let us keep in mind that the church of our Lord is a divine institution, ours are human. The church is blood bought; ours are human and money bought. The Lord's church is to save the world, ours can only help to make society better. The Lord's is to last forever, ours is as transient as men.

The Holy Spirit by inspired men has told us how to raise money to carry on the work of the Lord, but some think that he has not told us how to spend it. Some good men think that the church with its elders may take money out of the Lord's treasury and give to our institutions to help to maintain them. If a thing is right because the church and its elders decide to do it, and the church can use its money for things the Lord has never mentioned, why would it not be just as good for the church to decide how to raise its money? Such as a pie supper, or some other human method, as our denominational friends have always practiced.

And again, if the decision of the church makes a thing right, why not let the church decide how to baptize, by immersion, or pouring or sprinkling; and when to take the Lord's supper — on the first day of the week, or on the third, or some other day of the week? But you say the Lord has told us how to raise money (I Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 9:7); and how to baptize (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12); and also when to take the Lord's supper. (Acts 20:7)

But let me remind you, my friend, the Lord never did say that you cannot have a pie supper to raise money for the church. And he has not said that you cannot baptize by sprinkling a little water on a person's head. Nor has he said that you cannot take the Lord's supper on Wednesday night. Now I know what you are thinking. You think this is silly; and we are agreed, for it really is. But tell me what rule of logic do you use that lets you think the church can legislate on giving its money to other human institutions, and not legislate on any thing else? Yes, the Lord has told us for what the church may spend its money. (1 Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 15:25-26; Acts 11:27-29; 1 Cor. 9:9-15; I Tim. 5:17-18) Much has been said in the past about making laws where God has made none; but when we make a rule (to give the Lord's money to a human institution are we not making a rule) or law where God has made none?

Let me now plead with my brethren who have the responsibility of operating our institutions to consider now seriously this sad and ridiculous state of division that now exist in the church of the Lord. I fully believe that they have it within their power to do the greatest thing that they have ever in all the life time of these institutions had opportunity to do. If they will only leave the church out of their solicitations, and receiving money for their maintenance. ,I personally know of many of the best men among us whose interest have been turned from our institutions because of this one thing. I fully believe that our institutions will gain from twenty to forty percent more friends by doing this; and greatest of all, peace will come to the church of our Lord over the land.

Now some, I am sure, will say that I am wanting to make a law where God has made none, and to that I agree, for God has never made any law concerning "our" institutions. So far as the Bible is concerned he knows no more of them than he does of the denominations of the land; and he has certainly made no law concerning them. Because they are human and not divine. All the rules and laws that we have concerning them are made where God has made none; and why not let me suggest one pertaining to them?

Let us ever keep in mind that there is a difference in the human and the divine; that the Lord's church is divine, our institutions are not; his church is blood bought, ours are not; his are Spirit filled, ours are filled and manned by human wisdom; his is to save the world, ours can only help to elevate society. Money contributed into the treasury of his divine institution is ear-marked for its work, and no provisions are made in the divine record to transfer it to some human planned work.

Under the law given by Moses, God had said fire to consume the sacrifice was to be taken from the sacred altar; it was only a little thing that Nadab and Abihu did when they took common fire for their sacrifice. But it brought sudden death and everlasting shame to them. (Lev. 10:1-2)

Uzziah only wanted to be helpful when he put his hand on the ark of God to steady it, but it brought death to him. (2 Sam. 6:6-8) Moses deviated slightly when he smote the rock to bring the water out, but it brought sorrow to his heart, and everlasting shame to his name. (Num. 20: 10-12)

In the fifth chapter of Acts, Ananias and his wife made a liberal contribution to the church, but they sought to deceive by the gift and for that only they paid the debt with their lives. All this adds up to the fact that we must be exceedingly careful as to how we deal with the Lord and his instructions.

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians the Holy Spirit holds up the church to us as the bride of Christ. In Revelation 21:2 again she is referred to as a bride adorned for her husband. 1 Cor. 7:34 says she is to please her husband.

In 2 Cor. 11:2 "For I am jealous over you with a Godly jealously, for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." The apostle was not afraid of another Christ, or another divine saviour, his fear was not that they would be drawn from one divine saviour to another Christ, but drawn from the divine to the human and thus corrupted from the simplicity of Christ. If this means anything it means that the church is not to fraternize with the world, all her love must be for Christ, all her means and interest must be for Christ; but when she gives from her treasury to human institutions she is then having a part with the human and the world. If not, why not?

How much do we love the peace of the church; how can we love the church and not love its peace? Jesus says "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another." (Jno. 13:35) Jesus prayed that we should be one. (Jno. 17) Paul plead, 1 Cor. 1:10: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same things, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." When I am gone from this earth, and the weeds and grass grow over the soil that contains this lifeless body, I want no one to be able to say that I helped to divide the church of the Lord with "our" institutions! May God help us all to draw nearer to him.