Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1962
NUMBER 35, PAGE 3,14b


Boyce Cathey And Kent Harrell, Tuckerman, Arkansas

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." (2 Pet 2:1-2)

For years now, certain practices have been advocated which, in the light of New Testament teaching, are completely heretical. It shall be the purpose of this lesson to do three things: (1) to explain and define the term "heresy;" (2) to show how church support to human institutions is heresy; and (3) to show from the New Testament, what must be done concerning such heresy.


From Thayer's Lexicon, we find that the definition of "heresy" is: "that which is chosen, a chosen course of thought and action; hence one's chosen opinion, tenet; acc. to the context, an opinion varying from the true exposition of the Christian faith (heresy): 2 Pet. 2:1...." (Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 16) We find that Vine defines the word: "denotes (a) a choosing, choice; then, that which is chosen, and hence, an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth and leads to division and the formation of sects, Gal. 5:20; such erroneous opinions are frequently the outcome of personal preference or the prospect of advantage; see 2 Pet. 2:1, where 'destructive' (R.V.) signifies leading to ruin..." (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. II, p. 217). "An opinion or doctrine at variance with fundamental truths commonly received as orthodox, especially if leading to division; religious opinion at variance with authorized standards." '(Webster's New School and Office Dictionary)

Thus, from the above definitions, we have learned that the word "heresy" means an opinion, especially an opinion which is pushed to the point that division is the result. From all three sources, it is interesting to note that heresy is that which is at variance with truth Our charge is that church support to organizations is without any New Testament authority and therefore the opinion of men; which opinion has led to division already and continues to do so.


Any departure from or substitution for God's revealed truth is heresy before Him. Many passages teach us that God's Word is all-sufficient for man in everything: "All scripture is given....that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17); "given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness..." (2 Pet. 1:3); "... ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written..." (1 Cor. 4:6)

Our trouble in the church today is actually centered around the opinion of men that the local church may take from its treasury and make free-will contributions to organizations established by men in order for such organizations to perform certain works, such as works of mercy (hospitals), works of benevolence ("orphan homes" "old folks homes"), works of education (schools and colleges), works of evangelism (Gospel Press missionary society), and so, on and on we may go.

We maintain that there is no command, no approved apostolic example, and no necessary inference for such action described above. Those who engage in such action, realizing that there is no scripture for such, have resorted to many things trying to "justify" their actions without scripture. Some such are: (1) trying (without success) to make action which is specifically individual apply to church action; (2) trying to read into the Word of God a "law of love" that will allow a church to practice anything it so desires; (3) denying plain revealed truth by saying "there is no pattern;" (4) resorting to a "component-parts" idea (which some have held to apply even to the eldership saying that not any one man must have all the qualifications but if all the "elders" together can meet the qualifications that then it is right in God's sight); and (5) by saying "what the individual does the church can do." Seeing their dilemma, many of the advocates of church support to human organizations have tried to place such in the realm of "expediency." This of course leaves them in no better position. An expedient is an aid in doing that which is authorized (and there is no scripture which authorizes church support to human organizations, else one of the advocates would have found it by now). Scriptural authority is found in what the Word says; not in that which it does not say. For a thing to be expedient, it must meet several requirements: (1) is must be lawful, 1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23; (2) is cannot be specified (else it would be a matter of faith); (3) it must edify, 1 Cor. 10:23-33; 14:26 (edify means to build up; this unlawful practice tears down that which God would have built up - the church); (4) it must not offend the conscience of a brother, 1 Cor. 10:32; 8:7-13 (and this practice has and is the cause of division between brethren).

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, uncleanness, lasciviousness... heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness ...that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21) Brethren, it is time we wake up to the fact that such practices will keep one from entrance into the eternal home of the soul. One has but to look back a few years to certain heresies which men introduced, which led to division and apostasy, to see the importance of a thorough study of the will of God. Such heresies led to the development of the United and American Missionary Societies; the heresy of premillennialism; etc. Just as the advocates of the above, those today do not oppose doing things according to the Bible, but they want to practice things beyond what the Bible teaches. Our trouble is not over what the Word of God says, rather, what it does not say. Therefore, since there is no scripture which authorizes a church to contribute from its treasury to any human organization and since such a thing is being done, it is plain to see that such is the opinion of men, which has been pressed to division, there can be no question but that such is heresy and therefore condemned in the Word of God.


What, then, should be the reaction of Christian people to such an unlawful practice as we have seen this to be? First of all, those men who preach and teach such a practice are heretics ("a follower of false doctrine: Titus 3:10." THAYER, p. 16). It is, therefore, the responsibility of the elders of the local church (members where there are no elders) to "... convict the gainsayers (those who contradict sound doctrine)" (Titus 1:9); "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject." (Titus 3:10) Since it is the responsibility of the elders to oversee the flock among them (Acts 20:28), any preacher or teacher who proceeds to teach such false doctrine should be reproved. Any one that does not walk after the teachings of the New Testament (and church support to human organizations is not found in the New Testament) is to be withdrawn from. "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." (2 Thess. 3:6) Here is Paul's instruction, by the Holy Spirit, to Christians in regard to other Christians who are not walking according to the New Testament teaching. Any Christian who is engaged in any practice for which there is no New Testament authority, must be withdrawn from, unless he ceases from such practice. "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness... from such withdraw thyself." (1Tim. 6:3-5) God has "given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." (2 Pet. 1:3) Those who are teaching, promoting, and practicing church support to human institutions are not consenting to wholesome words or to the doctrine which is according to godliness. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Rom. 16:17-18) That church support to human organizations has caused division is not questioned. Any opinion or strange doctrine which is promoted causes division and is therefore sinful. Should a preacher or teacher begin to teach that instrumental music was to be used in worship, no elder of the Lord's body would allow such to continue (I hope!). However, this teaching, which has no more authority than instrumental music, is allowed to be preached, taught, and is even finding "favor" with many elders (who "received not the love of the truth....that they should believe a lie," (2 Thess. 2:10-11) Those elders who allow such preachers and teachers are not filling their office as God appointed them to do. Therefore, no preacher should be allowed to preach for a church nor allowed to conduct meetings. To allow such is to fellowship a heretic.

In the second place, if the elders allow such to go on, the members of the local church have action that they must take: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God....If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (2 John 9-11) Since the elders allow this false teaching to go on, they show their approval of such and become partakers of the evil done by such teaching. Likewise, those members who continue to go right along with the elders in this matter, fit in the same category as do the elders. Some members have the mistaken idea that the elders can do and can allow anything to take place, but if it is wrong, the members will not be held accountable. However, Paul, speaking concerning elders, said "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." (I Tim. 5:20) Jesus said of false teachers and leaders, "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." (Matt. 15:14) Paul said, "Let no man deceive you with vain (empty; not found in N. T.) words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them." (Eph. 5:6-7) Those elders who are leading and permitting others to lead the flock in the way of unscripturalness, are to be relieved of their position and withdrawn from. No man is an "elder for life" but when he fails to carry out the office of the eldership, he is therefore and then disqualified. (1 Tim. 3:1-11; Titus 1:6-9)

As we have stated before many members of local churches seem to have the idea that they can just continue worshipping and having fellowship with others who are engaged in sinful practices without the Lord being displeased. This is not the case as we have seen. Some have the idea that they can go along and be "neutral." However, the Lord said, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." (Matt. 12:30) Some seemingly know what the truth is but, because of popularity, money, etc., will not stand against the sinful practices. James says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10) Any violation of the scriptural plan of salvation, organization of the church, worship of the church, or work of the church, constitutes a definite violation in all points. Question: "If a group of individuals (all Christians) worshipped God JUST the way the New Testament teaches, except for the addition of a mechanical instrument in the singing, would that worship be acceptable unto God?" How then can one be content with such an unlawful practice (church support to human organizations) going on? It is completely unscriptural, the opinion of men, a destructive heresy, and all who practice such "shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21)

(Editor's note: This article is in tract form, and copies may be had by writing to Kent Harrell, P. O. Box 83, Tuckerman, Arkansas.)