Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 4, 1961
NUMBER 1, PAGE 5,14a

Boards And Conclaves Unknown To The New Testament - (2)

G. F. Raines

As long as I can remember, faithful gospel preachers have been dedicated to the sacred proposition and principles of speaking only where the Bible speaks and doing Bible things through the organization revealed therein. This is certainly a safe and a secure position and, as long as we adhere tenaciously to it, we are as immovable as the monumental rock of Gibraltar when, however, we depart from it, we shall be nothing more than a dirty speck upon the window pane of denominationalism.

A number of passages, both in the Old Testament and in the New, shows that man, unaided by the voice of inspiration, is utterly unable to form his policies and direct his affairs after a spiritual fashion. The following passages voice the position to which we have so long adhered:

"0 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23)

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psa. 119:105)

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." (Prov. 30:5, 6)

"If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability that God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever." (1 Peter 4:11)

"All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is 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)

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, bath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9)

It was due to a knowledge of and respect for the foregoing passages that motivated brother N. B. Hardeman, in 1922, to declare:

"I do not claim infallibility. I am not so set in my own ways that I could not be changed; and if any man, I care not from whence he comes, will point out to me, or to my brethren, for whom I think I can speak, anything commanded by God, authorized by the Scriptures, that we do not preach and practice, I pledge you to the very best that lieth within me, we will introduce it just as early as it is possible for us to do so. On the other hand, if there is one single thing preached or practiced by that brotherhood with whom I stand identified tonight that is not authorized by the word of God, I stand individually pledged to give up that thing before the morrow's sun shall rise." (Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons, Vol. 1, p. 85, 86)

The Bible says just as much about kissing the Pope's big toe as it does about boards and conclaves through which to do the work of the church. All of the work of the church should be done "by and through the church, with its elders having the oversight thereof, and not through boards and conclaves unknown to the New Testament."

Clearly observable in the Bible is a divine law of exclusion. For instance: (1) Noah was commanded to build an ark of gopher wood; this command is of such nature as to exclude walnut, hickory, or any other kind of wood; to have used any other kind except gopher wood would have been substitution, rebellion, and disobedience. (2) Christians are commanded to sing in worship of God (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16, etc.); as we are commanded to sing, and as God has nowhere commanded playing, the command to sing eliminates other kinds of music. (3) In like manner, the local congregation is the only organization revealed anywhere upon the pages of inspiration that God has authorized to discharge the functions of the New Testament church. The only work which the church is authorized to do falls into the following categories: (1) benevolence; (2) evangelism; and (3) edification; therefore the local congregation is the only revealed organization through which the church may function in either evangelism, benevolence, or edification:

"The self-sufficiency of the church in organization, work, worship, and in every function required of it by the Lord should be emphasized. This lesson is much needed today. Religious secular organizations are always trying to encroach on the function of the New Testament church, interfere with its obligations, and attempt to discharge some of its functions. The church is the only organization authorized to discharge the responsibilities of the Lord's people. When brethren form organizations independently of the church to tra the work of the church, however high their aims and right their design, they are engaged in that which is sinful." (Guy N. Woods, 1946 Annual Lesson Commentary, p. 338)

As the church is the only organization authorized to discharge the functions of the church, all other organizations are, by the law of exclusion, forever barred from interfering with its obligations and doing its work. The same principle that permits work being done under the oversight of boards and conclaves permits instrumental music in worship of God. By the same rule of logic that the instrument is eliminated, I shall eliminate boards and conclaves through which the church is to function; and through the same door that they are allowed to enter, I shall bring the instrument. All work of the church is to be under the oversight of elders. (1 Tim. 5:17; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4) As inspiration has specified the eldership to oversee the work of the church, the law of exclusion excludes the boards. The Bible says just as much in favor of doing the work of the church under the oversight of the devil as it does in favor of doing it through any other organization except the local congregation. If the local congregation is not sufficient as an organization, the New Testament is not sufficient as a guide; for no other is therein revealed.

Brother R. L. Whiteside, though dead, continues to live in the hearts of those who truly believe in doing Bible things as the Bible has revealed. He ministered to some of the strongest congregations in the world; for two years, he successfully served as President of Abilene Christian College; for 10 years, he was query editor for the Gospel Advocate; and, for a number of years, he wrote Annual Lesson Commentary, published by the Gospel Advocate. Brother C. R. Nichol has said, "Brother Whiteside has been a close student of the Bible all his life. His critical mind and power of reasoning have afforded him an insight into the teaching of the Bible as a whole that few men have." In one of the latest books that bears his name, brother Whiteside said:

"Such, in brief, is the work of the church. But human institutions have robbed the church of its work. There are societies for doing every work God intended the church to do. But an objector says: `If they do the work God intends shall be done, they surely do a good work.' Yes, the work aimed to be done by these societies are good works. 'What objections, then, can you have?' It is God's wisdom that these works shall be done by the church. He planted it for that purpose, and he who seeks to do it another way sets his wisdom against the wisdom of God. He who goes contrary to God's wisdom cannot succeed. These institutions may grow and prosper for awhile, but 'every plant which my Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.' It is admitted by all that the church should do the work referred to, but society advocates say the church fails to do its duty and we must get up something that will do the work. That is, God undertook to do this work through the church but failed. We will beat him; we will organize societies that will succeed. That is the spirit of it. That is exalting human wisdom above God's wisdom and man's works above God's works. Vain foolish man! Brethren, that is the boldest sort of presumption." (Doctrinal Discourses. pp. 12, 13)