Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 13, 1950

Lipscomb On Expediency

The rule is, whatever adds to or takes from, is sinful. Whatever merely aids in doing the service commanded, without adding to or taking from, is allowable. Or, whatever aids in the performance of a requirement of God, without adding to, taking from, modifying, or in any way displacing any service, institution or appointment of God, or without having a tendency to do this or weaken man's sense of dependence upon God is allowable. Whatever adds to the appointments of God, to any service or institution of God, or that changes or modifies the service or appointments of God or tends to wean men from God and his appointments, is sinful.

Meeting houses, hymn and note books, printed Scripture and religious truth and news, pulpits, seats, tuning-forks belong to the first class, all these are inanimate objects that facilitate the performance of the duties required but add nothing to and take nothing from them or the service. They do not enter into, modify, change, become a part of, so add to or take from any appointment, institution or service of God. They have no tendency to supplant any institution or service of God, have no influence or tendency to wean men from service in God's appointments and institutions, nor to wean men from a dependence upon the appointments of God. The tuning-fork does not take the place of the singing, does not enter into it, does not blend with it, does not take from it, so does not modify or change the service of song. It only gives the keynote before the song begins, that the singer may the better perform the service of song.

The organ enters into, becomes a part of and often supersedes the song service. If the congregation sings with the organ, it still modifies the whole service; the strange element enters into, blends with, adds to, continues through and takes the chief prominence in the service, so greatly modifies and changes it. The service with the organ cannot be truthfully called singing and making melody in the hearts to the Lord. The singing is the minor part of it. Its tendency is to destroy the service of song altogether, by supplanting it with a performance upon the organ, accompanied by a few professional singers. This is the tendency of the organ. The desire to introduce it arises from the false idea that the performance is one to entertain, please and attract men. It is directed to men rather than a service through which we worship God and offer him the prayer, praise and thanksgiving of our hearts. The introduction of the organ is a practical declaration that we are directing this service to man and not to God. It is to please man, not to serve God.

Then a tuning-fork is an expedient that helps to the better performance of the requirements of God. An organ is the substitution of a musical performance to please and attract men, for the service and praise of God in song. In its best use it enters into, mingles with and adds to, so changes the services as to offer a musical performance on the organ, accompanied by a few artistic singers, in lieu of the singing, and making melody in the heart to the Lord. It is certainly an addition to the appointments of God. It is sinful. The same principle holds good in the constitution and work of the church. God has committed the work of converting and saving the world to his church. "The church of the living God, which is the ground and support of the truth." This salvation is to be effected by the individuals and the churches performing the work God has committed to them. This work of the individuals and the churches is to be done in accordance with certain laws and principles down by the Holy Spirit and under the direction and guidance of the elders, whom "the Holy Ghost hath made overseers to feed the church of God." The spirit that prompts in this work of preaching is to be one of self-sacrifice and devotion to the cause of God. The man is to go in Christ's name, as a member of his body, which is the church, looking to God as his strength and shield. The work of the church in this as in other matters is to be guided by the word of God and must be under the direction of the elders of the church of God.

The society is an organization not ordained or provided for by God. It is permanent, self-perpetuating. The society, unknown to the Scriptures, originating in human wisdom and human legislation, cannot find Scriptures for its guidance, hence is dependent upon human legislation for its perpetuation and operation.

This society then must by its existence substitute human legislation for Divine authority. Its perpetuation and operation demand continually this substitution of human wisdom for Divine provision. It cultivates the habit and fosters the spirit in man of substituting his own wisdom for the wisdom of God, and his own inventions for the institutions of God—of legislating in religion. This has been the besetting sin of humanity in all ages of the world. Whatever promotes that tendency in many is especially hurtful. The institution of the society, is then a violation of the most sacred and fundamental law of his kingdom—his sovereign right to make laws and direct his own kingdom. It adds permanently to the institutions of God.

The societies take the work of preaching out of the hands of the churches and from the control of the elders and put it in the hands of persons who will pay money for it.

In taking from the church a work committed to the church that church is weakened, its importance lessened, and the elders are ignored and their work and influence depreciated and destroyed and the human organization to which it is transferred correspondingly exalted and honored. The loyalty of those who give is diverted from the church and centered in the society. The societies have all turned the control and management of the society over to those who give money...