Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 31, 1950
NUMBER 17, PAGE 1,13a

Too Big For The New Testament

Wallace W. Thompson, Las Vegas, Nevada

1. Congregational Duty. God is no respecter of persons. I think it true that He does not respect one congregation over another. The duty of one congregation is the duty of another, all. What He requires of one, He requires of all. If every church cannot be the "sponsoring church" which one or ones has He commanded should initiate programs of work? If one congregation has the right to be a "sponsoring center," does not every congregation have the right? If every congregation becomes a "sponsoring congregation," who then would become the senders or supporters? We could not expect the denominations to help us, and I doubt that many churches would accept the gifts if they did want to help. But, if every congregation became a "sponsoring center" only two sources of help would be left: denominations, and the world, both belonging to the devil. Some picture, I say, every congregation a "sponsor" and no one to help in the work but the local congregation. Well, that is where the Lord placed the burden. Let us not get too big for the New Testament.

2. The Duty of Elders. If I read my New Testament correctly, every elder in the church has the same duty. Every eldership has the same obligation. If the duty of one eldership is to control the finance of other congregations, it is the duty of every eldership. What a scene! Every eldership controlling the finance of other congregations, exchanging funds to carry on the work! Why not just exchange work with each other? It is just as logical. This kind of procedure throws the church into confusion, and sets up an organization unknown in the Testament of Christ. If every eldership has the right to have centralized control of finance for the churches, in such a plan is a clashing of authority. I think this conclusion is evident: "If all the congregations have not the right for centralized control of finance, then no one congregation has the right." The unity of the New Testament does not call for such an arrangement. It is human, not divine.

3. No Congregation Has Been Commanded To Do More Than It Can Do. But, if one eldership has the power and right to promote a work that it cannot do, every eldership has the same right. If all congregations promoted a work that each could not do, who would be left to support the work? The answer is "none"! The church could rightly be called an "unwise builder" who counted not the cost. Has the New Testament ordered such a bungle? Certainly not! Such an effort leads to centralization of power. How can Rome be condemned when within the church some congregations are assuming the same power on a smaller scale? If such is scriptural, what would be unscriptural? The "missionary society" cannot be justly condemned by those who resort to such practices.

4. Congregations in Foreign Fields Have Same Work as Home Congregations. The church in Germany has the same duty before God and to the world as any congregation in America. Why not let the church in Germany become the "sponsoring congregation" for the work in America? Many states are untouched with the gospel in the United States. I doubt that many churches would select Japan (church in Japan) to "sponsor" our work here. Why? But if the "sponsoring idea" is right we could very well send our money to a congregation to "sponsor" our work in fields like Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Maine, New York, or anywhere else. If not, why not? Is the principle sane, sensible, or spiritual? The New Testament does not reveal it. Abandon it.

5. Sponsors and Senders. Who will be the promoters, and who will be the senders? The planners so far in centralized contributions have been the larger churches. If one eldership is to be the sponsors of a work, which eldership has God chosen? If it is the duty of one church to promote foreign programs such as are being promoted, is it not the duty of all? If a congregation does not do it, it then becomes a sin, if it is the duty of all. It seems to me that the duty of any congregation is to send out preachers, that we forget about being a sponsor, and establish churches. If it is the duty of one congregation to beg for help, is it not the duty of all to beg for help? If all become beggars, who will be left to become the senders? And if the beggars send, why did they beg? And if all become "sponsors" and promoters" there will not be left one congregation to feed the "sponsoring congregations." The New Testament church sent preachers, the preachers preached the gospel, souls believed it, churches were established. If every church does that, is not that doing God's will? What more is required than to do His will?

6. Eldership Rule. The rule of the elders in the church is local, not regional or world wide. In this we see the wisdom of God, the church left free from human control and power. Elders have not authority outside the local congregation, and what rule they have is regulated by the Bible. The preaching to be done is universal; that is why God gave preachers no other authority than to "preach the word." Preaching the word is all the authority that any preacher has. Every congregation has the Bible right to send preachers. No church has any right to establish a human arrangement in so doing. So, let us send preachers, establish congregations, and forget about the "sponsoring idea." It originated with the devil.

7. Cooperation, Yes, But How? Catholics have cooperation. Baptists have it, the Missionary Societies have it, but how? Not according to the divine pattern. They have a "central office," headquarters, if you please. The churches send money to headquarters, the organization receives the funds and spends them where they see fit. If one congregation of the church of Christ assumes this position, how does it differ from the "missionary society" in principle? There is no difference. The church is not a missionary society. It is not God's missionary society. God has none. He does have the church that cost His Son's blood. There is more to the church than preaching. There is more to it than the work of beneficence. Why limit it?

8. Wanted!

One passage that permits a partial or complete "brotherhood eldership."

One passage where one church received money front other churches to preach the gospel for them.

One passage where an eldership begged for money to do its work.

One passage where a New Testament congregation ruled the work of a new congregation.

One passage in New Testament that calls for sponsors and surveyors.

One passage in New Testament that calls for church representatives.

One example or passage in New Testament that demands church sponsored recreation.

One example in New Testament of "recreational side rooms."

One example or passage in New Testament where any church was commanded to do more than it could do.

9. Brethren, let us be satisfied with "the book." Let us stay within its bounds. Let us "learn not to go beyond that which is written." Let us use sound speech, and do Bible things in Bible ways. Is the New Testament too narrow for us? Have we become so large that we can cast it aside? Let us forget about having "sponsors," "promoters," "representatives," "missions," and be satisfied with "congregations," "elders," "preachers," and "New Testament work." Let us please God in all things. I know of no better way to do this than to follow His word to the letter. All praise, honor, and glory to His high and holy name! "Unto Him be glory in the church."