Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 30, 1964

"Dangerous Trends" Discussed By Evangelist Plum

C. D. Plum

Evangelist C. D. Plum, who preaches for the Church of Christ, at Fourth and Walnut streets, Belpre, Ohio, used as his sermon subject Sunday, "Dangerous Trends." A synopsis of the sermon follows:

"That there are dangerous trends in religion is a truth well known by all rightly informed Bible students. In this sermon I wish to mention some of these trends away from the word of God.

1. Quoting men to prove what is religiously right, instead of quoting the Holy Scriptures, is a dangerous trend in religion. Often we hear people say, 'This practice is right because our preacher said so!' Would it not be better to say, 'This practice is right because here is the chapter and verse in the word of God that says so?' Jesus condemns those who follow men. Hear Him, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Mt. 15:9) Hear Jesus further: "Let them alone: (that is, don't follow these false teachers) they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." (Mt. 15:14) For any practice to be religiously right it must be scripturally right. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." (I Pet. 4:11) This scriptural admonition is timely right now: "That ye may learn in us not to think of men above that which is written." (I Cor. 4:6) If it isn't written in the word of God, quoting men to prove it is right, won't make it right.

2. Ignoring church government as decreed by God is another dangerous trend in religion. God's order for church government is as follows: (a) Christ is the chief Shepherd, the only lawgiver for the church. (1 Pet. 5:4; Eph. 5:24) (b) The elders are the little shepherds. They have no power to make laws for the church (d) The deacons are next in order. It will be observed that Christ is over elders and deacons. It will also be observed that the elders are over the deacons. The elders have the "oversight" of everything under them. It is the elders responsibility to feed the church, or to see who does feed the church. All this is plainly taught in I Peter 5:1-3. The elders have the oversight of everything. They see over, but are not to "lord it over" the flock. Preachers, who are often unscripturally called pastors; with the deacons, are under the elders. This is God's order for church government.

The trend is away from this order. Majority rule is being worked in one way or another to offset God's church government. The elders are often in the minority. The majority wants this or that. The elders submit. In things religious, majority rule is out. It is destructive, eventually, to the peace of the church. Majority rule is simply making errand boys out of the elders.

Majority rule often leads to the fatal mistake made by Solomon's son, Rehoboam. An account of this may be found in I Kings 12:1-12. Rehoboam was reigning over two tribes of Israel. Ten tribes were in rebellion against him. These ten tribes promised to serve Rehoboam if he would make their burden lighter. Rehoboam asked the counsel of the old men. The old men told him to treat these people rightly, Rehoboam did not like this, He turned to the young men for counsel. The young men's counsel was contrary to the old men's counsel. The young men told Rehoboam this: tell the ten tribes: "My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins" "My father did lade you with a heavy yoke I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." Too many times the counsel of the young is setting aside God's church government.

The word of God does not teach that one group of elders may exercise rule and authority over two congregations. The word of God nowhere speaks of a presiding elder. The church today needs to follow to the letter God's order in church government.

3. Another dangerous trend today is toward institutionalism. The church of Christ still functions today in preaching the gospel to the folk at home, and in the lands beyond the sea, without that human and unscriptural institution called the missionary society. The church is to spread the gospel to every creature. The church is to make known the "manifold wisdom of God." The church sends direct to the preachers in home or foreign fields. (Phil. 4:15-17) God's order for missionary work is not for a church to be the forwarding agency for a number of congregations. The funds of one congregation are not to go through the treasury of another congregation, for any work. The work of each congregation is separate and apart from the work of another congregation. Each congregation can forward funds to workers the same as one congregation can forward for all the congregations. It is a violation of Phil. 4:15-18 for one congregation to solicit and forward funds for another congregation. Trends are small things in the beginning, but a trend away from the word of God is soon out of bounds Here as in any other trend away from the word of God, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The individual Christian, and the local church, can, and should obey 1 Timothy 5:8, 18, and this will remove all need for the church contributing large sums of money for great buildings which will only house a few old people who need care. God's way is the best, and God's way is the only right way. May each of us resolve that we will plant our feet in harmony with God's eternal truth, and fight against any and all trends away from it. And may God give us strength in the right and victory in the right.

— Rt. 3, Box 135, Corapolis, Pennsylvania