Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 24, 1950
NUMBER 16, PAGE 1,13

More About How To Do Missionary Work

Cled E. Wallace

(A note from the "ace-writer": I will probably never live that one down. For the benefit of new comers, some years ago, I referred to my brother, Foy, as "the canny editor." We have always been quite fond of each other, and still are. A mutual admiration society was almost established when he referred to me as "the ace-writer." The editor of the Gospel Advocate would obviously relish changing both the spelling and the pronunciation. I do not begrudge him and others, who think we stink, the pleasure they have derived from ribbing us, even if it is not exactly good-natured. He thinks we are "reactionaries, and radicals and self-righteous snobs" and that "seldom in modern times has the progress of the church been more jeopardized" than by our present activities. We cannot be brushed off in that fashion, and a rather large number of very intelligent brethren would regard him with more favor, if he would make any kind of an attempt to answer our arguments, and deal with the issue, rather than sneer at us in "Editor's Notes." We suggest that he find him an Edgar Bergen somewhere who has been born again. With apologies to the truculent editor of the Gospel Advocate,

"This article which follows appeared in the Gospel Advocate of November 10, 1932. It deals with a phase of the church which we should never lose sight ofWe reproduce the entire article as the inimitable H. Leo Boles wrote it."

The reader can arrive at his own conclusions about who is guilty of "misrepresenting the dead.")

"The study of the New Testament reveals the fact that churches raised and distributed funds for two general purposes—namely, (1) to support the preaching of the gospel and (2) to help the poor. The churches acted in this work as individual and independent congregations. The missionary received help from the church that sent him out, from those in the field where he labored, and from other churches; but in all of this work there was no common fund for churches, no "central church" with a treasurer to receive the funds from the other churches, no general treasury to take care of the funds, no call for any church to other churches to help them do the work which fell in their province to do.

We have an account of the relief of the poor saints in New Testament times. The churches of three provinces under divine order contributed to this work, but there was no such extensive collection of funds made in the apostolic age for sending a preacher into a destitute field. No church consulted any other church. They did not form any organic cooperative plan or union with the other churches. Each church, guided by the instruction from God that it had, acted upon its own independent responsibility. Each church collected its own gift and sent by its own messengers. "Now concerning the collections for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem." (I Cor. 16:1-3) In this we have specific instruction to the individual congregation as to how it was to proceed to make its collection and the distribution that should be made of it. In writing to the church at Rome, Paul said: "But now, I say, I go unto Jerusalem, ministering unto the saints. For it hath been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints that are at Jerusalem. Yea, it hath been their good pleasure; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to minister unto them in carnal things, When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by you unto Spain...Strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that are disobedient in Judea, and that my ministration which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints." (Rom. 15:2531) This shows Paul's earnest desire that the contribution from the Gentiles to the Jewish Christians would be acceptable to them; that they would appreciate the gifts from their Gentile brethren.

Speaking further on this question, Paul said: "But thanks to God, who putteth the same earnest care for you in the heart of Titus. For he accepted indeed our exhortation; but being himself very earnest, he went forth unto you of his own accord. And we have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the gospel is spread through all the churches; and not only so, but who was also appointed by the churches to travel with us in the matter of this grace, which is ministered by us to the glory of the Lord, and to show our readiness. . . . Whether any inquire about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker to you-ward; or our brethren; they are the messengers of the churches, they are the glory of Christ. Show ye therefore unto them in the face of the churches the proof of your love, and of our glorying on your behalf." (2 Cor. 8:16-24) Again, we have the example of independent church activities; we have the individual churches acting upon their own initiative and liberality in helping the poor. By whom were the visiting agents appointed ? They were not appointed by a convention of delegates from the churches in the provinces of Gentile Christians. These churches had no convention and took no cooperative action in appointing and sending the men to carry the contribution to the poor saints in Jerusalem. Paul sent them to make up the afore-promised bounty and have it ready by the time that he arrived. "But I have sent the brethren, that our glorying on your behalf may not be made void in this respect; that, even as I said, ye may be prepared: lest by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be put to shame in this confidence. I thought it necessary therefore to entreat the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your afore-promised bounty, that the same might be ready as a matter of bounty, and not of extortion." (2 Cor. 9:3-5) The churches on the first day of the week, when they met, took up their collection and appointed their own messengers to bear their gift to Jerusalem. Paul did not appoint an agent to go among the churches to get them to promise to do anything; they had already promised as independent and individual churches to help in this matter, and the men sent by Paul were to encourage each church to be ready with its gift when he arrived. Neither did any church appoint an agent to go among other churches to get them to promise to help in this matter; neither did delegates or representatives from all of these churches appoint a man or men to go among the churches and solicit them to give to the helping of the poor. All that these men did was to encourage the churches to be ready and fulfill the promise that had been made. Each congregation acting in its own independent way made the promise without solicitation or persuasion or any outside influence; they acted upon their own responsibility and made the promise.

The example of raising a bounty for the poor as given in the New Testament is the nearest approach to the cooperation of churches that we find in the New Testament. And these examples show conclusively that each church exercised its own autonomy and independent activity in this work. This was for the relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem and Judea. Even if these churches cooperated in relieving the poor, as many want to dotoday, yet we would still be lacking in example of such cooperation in having the gospel preached in foreign lands or at home. There is no example in the New Testament of two or more churches that cooperated in having the gospel preached. This fact proves that God did not intend for his churches to "cooperate" in preaching the gospel, as some brethren are trying to get them to do today.

A summary of the teachings of the New Testament gives us the following facts with respect to missionary work. (1) In the New Testament times the churches recommended and sent out preachers of the gospel into the mission field. (Acts 13:1-3; 14:26:15:40) The church that had preachers to spare in the foreign field recommended them, and they went under the recommendation and encouragement of their own congregation. The apostles do not necessarily belong to this class, as they were sent out by the Lord. (2) The preachers who were sent out returned to the church that sent them and reported the work they had done. (Acts 14:27) The missionaries were responsible to the church that sent them out, and hence reported back to it. (3) The church to which the missionaries belonged and from which they went looked after their conduct and called them to account for violations or supposed violations of duty. (Acts 11:1-18;15:1-29.) (4) The churches communicated directly with the preachers which they supported. (Phil. 4:15-18; I Thess. 1:7, 8.) We should have these matters and Scriptural examples clearly in mind, as they are instructive to us in carrying on the same kind of work today. We should ever bear in mind that churches are to act independently and are not in any way to be tied by any human method of cooperation."

(The "ace-writer" asks a question after giving you "the entire article" from brother Boles. Does it sound like the editor of the Gospel Advocate "1950 style" and the support that he is getting from Memphis and Searcy? You answer it. The desperate effort that the present editor of that journal has made to make it appear that we have garbled brother Boles' articles and "misrepresented the dead" is a corny and pitiable subterfuge that he owes his readers an apology for. If he makes it, he is a whale of a sight bigger than his antics in the Gospel Advocate indicate that he is.)