Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 25, 1961

The Assignment, The Organization And The Pattern

Cecil B. Douthitt, Fort Smith, Arkansas

Jesus gave to his disciples the most stupendous assignment ever given to human beings when he ordered them to preach the gospel to every creature in every nation in all the world. (Mark 16:15, 16)

God knew that this stupendous task could never be performed without organization. Therefore he foreordained and brought into reality the necessary organization — the local church. (Acts 2) Jesus would not permit the disciples to begin this work of evangelizing the world till the very day that the church became a living organism. (Acts 1:8) The local church was the only kind of organization to which either Christ or his apostles ever made in reference whatever for this work of preaching the gospel to the whole world.

Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8) were just too much for any one local church to reach or to finance or to oversee. But the Lord had a solution to that problem long before any man ever faced it. He willed that other local churches just like the one in Jerusalem be planted in Judea, Samaria, Asia, Europe and even unto the uttermost part of the earth. He willed that each one be a radiating center for the evangelization of the world. Every local church was autonomous and independent. The elders of every church were assigned the oversight of the work and resources of the church of which they were members, and nothing else. They assumed" nothing. (I Peter 5:1-3) In this work of preaching the gospel no church ever surrendered the control of one dime of its resources to the oversight and management of any human organization or of another local congregation.

This plan and pattern, the Lord's plan and the Lord's pattern, were successful. In that one generation the gospel was preached in all creation under heaven and was bearing fruit in all the world. (Col. 1:6, 23)

The missionary society and the "sponsoring church" cry out, "No one church can accomplish this great mission of preaching the gospel in all the world. Therefore send us your money and let us do it, for we have the ability to manage and oversee and control this work but we do not have the resources." If the Lord expected only one church to complete the job, why did he plant other local churches? The elders of the Highland Church in Abilene, sponsors of the Herald of Truth program, do not claim to have anything, except the ability to control and manage the resources of all the churches in preaching the gospel to all the world. But they think more highly of themselves than the Lord thinks of their ability; otherwise he would have planted only one local church and then made the Highland elders the managers of the work, and all other local churches could have been some sort of commercial organizations, created for the purpose of supplying the Highland elders with money to oversee.

If these sponsoring church elders would follow the Lord's plan of evangelizing the world, and spend as much time and money out in the field planting other local churches as they spend running around over the country begging other congregations for the control of their resources and stirring up trouble and dividing churches in nearly every state in the Union, they would be doing the will of God instead of the will of Satan. Have they so deceived themselves as to think their plan is better than the apostolic pattern of planting local churches?