Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 2, 1950

Lipscomb Answers Some Questions

Brother Lipscomb: Do you regard the movement among our churches which are becoming "living-link" churches—that is, those churches which support missionaries direct—as scriptural? If you object, on what ground? If you favor it, then would it not be a good plan to urge upon all the strong churches? Where no single church is able to send a missionary, would you object to two, three, four, or five churches uniting and sending one? Would it not be a good plan for the brethren opposed to the society to adopt?

What we ought to do is to endeavor to have this work done. We may not agree as to the methods of doing the work, but we all agree that the work should be done. It seems to me that you could work along this line. If not, why not?

I believe each church able to do so should sustain a missionary or missionaries, both home and foreign. There is no distinction as to these in the Bible. But when churches go into associations so as to build up these human societies that take the work out of the hands of the churches, they so do it as to make it support evil. The idea that honors and trusts, office and authority, are to be given to men by virtue of the money paid is so abhorrent to all the teachings and principles of the Scriptures that it amounts to a rejection of God. Suppose the state were to sell its offices and posts of honor to the highest bidder, what would be thought of it? What corruption would it work? It is ten thousand times more out of harmony with the Christian religion. What is the difference in principle between selling indulgences to sin and selling positions of trust and influence in the church for money? Any association that does this is anti-christian in its fundamental and leading principle. This whole effort to amass sums under the control of a few men who pay for the right to direct and control it is corrupting in its influence and must work corruption so long as human nature remains as it is.

If brother Kindead is a reader of the Gospel Advocate, I do not see why he should ask this latter question. We have repeatedly and continually advocated this cooperation of churches; have given the example time and again of the three churches in Nashville, Tenn., agreeing to support brother A. Paul in Armenia; and have given the example of the South College Street Church and the church at Nashville Bible School carrying on the tent work in the sections around Nashville, by which seven churches were planted last year and other weak ones were strengthened, and an interest was aroused in still other places that will doubtless result in planting other churches. This year additional tents have been purchased, and the Tenth Street Church will cooperate, and we trust that greater work will be done. We have always urged this cooperative work on the churches. We did it at Chattanooga, Tenn., when the State society was first formed, and besought them to work in this way, in which unity and harmony would be preserved. They refused to heed us and introduced the society, which has produced alienation, discord, and division among the people of God. I do not believe there has been a greater sin committed against God and his churches in Tennessee in the last fifty years than was the introduction of this unauthorized society, with its divisions and strife.

One extreme begets another. In running from this organization, others have run to the extreme of refusing all cooperation among churches in supporting the missionaries. There is not the same danger in relying upon public appeals from and to individuals, because there is no organization formed; but such work will be always irregular and desultory. Two or three men can be supported by general public appeals; but there ought to be hundreds of them engaged in such work, and there would be if the spirit of Christianity were active and alive. What a jargon it would be for a hundred men to be presenting each his separate claim to all the churches! Paul seems to have communicated with certain churches "as concerning giving and receiving." I do not believe the work of sustaining missionaries will be effectually done until each congregation selects and sustains or helps to sustain its own missionary, and makes his support its work, to be regularly and conscientiously attended to. Let each church as it is able support a preacher of the gospel. If one is not able to support one within itself, let it or them confer with one or more neighboring churches, and let so many as are needed to support a man do it by regular contributions; but by all means avoid associations that ignore and take the work out of the hands of the churches.

In addition to the work mentioned, the Tenth Street Church encourages brother Larimore to devote his time to the weak churches and destitute places in Nashville by supplementing what they may lack of giving him a support. This, with the individual sacrifices, is the work that has planted the churches all over the land. In Missouri, containing the largest number of churches and members of any state, out of fifteen hundred churches, over eleven hundred do not work through the societies, so the society publishes.

There is a specious and misleading fallacy in the last paragraph. The devil always finds a specious reason when tempting Christ, whether in the fleshly or the spiritual body. Christ's work cannot be done through human inventions and devices. They may make a show of this work in some points; but they so change and corrupt it in its vital point that it is not the work of God, but of man. God must do his own work. He does it through his own men and appointments. For him to do it through human devices is to encourage men to set aside his institutions, laws, and appointments for those of man. He may overrule the human so as to promote his honor; but his honor comes only through the failure and destruction of the human, which he overrules to its destruction and to the honor of his kingdom and appointments. The success of the human is the overthrow of the divine; the success of the divine is the overthrow of the human. The two cannot grow together; we "cannot serve two masters."

— (From Questions Answered, p. 145)