Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 1, 1951
NUMBER 42, PAGE 10-11a

God's Provisions Adequate

Robert H. Farish, Tarrant, Alabama

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. God designed it to accomplish that end. Any doubt entertained as to the adequateness of the gospel, to save, reflects doubt of the designer. We do not shore up defenses that we deem adequate, we rely on them. Any shoring up efforts are evidence of doubt. Doubt of the adequacy of the gospel is evidenced in the efforts made by some to by-pass the gospel and get God to save them in some other way.

The scriptures adequately furnish the man of God unto every good work. We have long contended that nothing additional is needed. No human made creed, manual or any such thing to explain or in any way improve on the scriptures is needed.

There are those among us, however, who are manifesting the spirit of denominational distrust in God's appointments by their attitude toward God's design for the church. Their unscriptural plans evince distrust in the ability of the church, as God gave it, to accomplish the mission for which God designed it. There is great need to learn that the things of God are adequate—the church as God gave it, is adequate. His plan is for the local congregation to function under its own eldership—no inter-congregational tie up is apparent in the New Testament plan. To question the wisdom of this arrangement is to question the wisdom of God. Who would be so blasphemous as to say that there is a lack of wisdom with God? Yet when we look upon the church as revealed in the New Testament we see the manifestation of the wisdom of God according to Eph. 3:10. Hence any deviation from the New Testament pattern is a mark of distrust in God's wisdom.

No one yet has located scripture that justifies centralized control. Nothing can be found to favor the idea of the elders of any church being subordinate to any other elders, either in theory or practice. Nothing that even hints of one congregation constituting itself a 'sponsoring' church and calling on other churches to become 'contributing' churches to the 'sponsoring' church's program can be found in the New Testament.

One of the most serious features about the current discussion is the failure of those who are promoting such things, to feel the need of attempting to justify their practices by the scripture. Much that has its source in worldly wisdom has been advanced—human reason—sarcasm—ridicule—former practices of some brethren and such have been abundantly in evidence, but scriptural authority is conspicuous by its' absence.

Now comes brother Will W. Slater writing a note to the Gospel Advocate. 'Information Wanted' is the heading of the note as it appeared in News and Notes of the Gospel Advocate, Nov. 30. In this note brother Slater states that he has a "few dollars" that he would like to contribute to the mission work in Germany and Japan, but that he doesn't know who to send it to. He wants information as to how to properly make this contribution. Brother Slater complains that various editors and writers have written against some of the arrangements and plans which are being adopted by some and urged upon others, and this has so confused him that he doesn't "know who to send it to." The editor of the Gospel Advocate inserted a note referring brother to some articles by brother Lipscomb, brother H. Leo Boles, and brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr., that had been lately re-printed in the Gospel Advocate. Now I, too, have a high regard for these three men and enjoy reading and re-reading their articles but I am unwilling to refer a brother to their writings or to the writings of any uninspired men for information on matters of faith. The New Testament is the full and final authority in such matters, so I suggest that brother Slater read the New Testament references for the brother to study for information on some of the matters he is interested in. Phil. 1:5, Phil. 4:14-18, Acts 11:27-30, I Cor. 16:1-4 and the 8th and 9th chapters of II Corinthians should give ample information on the things that are New Testament things.

Some other things are mentioned in the note for which no information is available in the New Testament. Brother Slater writes "Some of the writers and editors of some of our gospel papers tell us that it is wrong for a congregation to have charge of such work, to 'sponsor' a minister or group of workers, wrong for the congregation to accept donations for such work, to 'oversee' such workers." The matter of a congregation having 'charge' of the work in some nation is foreign to New Testament teaching. Such an idea is not to be found in the New Testament. This information cannot be obtained from the scriptures which completely furnishes unto every good work. The 'congregation in charge' idea was not included in the New Testament picture of the church. If such had been necessary for the church to perform its mission then it would have been included in the pattern. The church as God gave it is adequate!

The church at Philippi "had fellowship in furtherance of the gospel" in several places but no intimation is found that they had 'charge' of the work in these places or that they were constituted a "sponsoring church."

The brother tells about four congregations, neither of which is able to support a preacher independent of others. While neither is able to support a preacher independent of others, yet each can support to the extent of its ability, independent of others. Philippi was probably not able to give Paul all the support he needed, yet they "had fellowship in the furtherance of the gospel." These four churches can get all the information they need to solve their problem from this approved example.

Commenting further brother Slater says, "but all four of them could 'pool' their money and support one preacher. But as it is wrong for congregations to go together, cooperate with each other, in the matter, for in so doing they would be forming a 'missionary society,' they just do not know what to do." These congregations can have fellowship in the furtherance of the gospel—without pooling their money—they do not need to go together or form any kind of society. Philippi did none of these things.

It would be well if all would learn the futility and danger of these mechanical devices designed by men, such as "unity meetings" to achieve unity, self-appointed "co-ordinators" to coordinate the work of the churches. These men 'with a plan' to impose on the churches. Adequate provisions have been made for all things desirable and necessary—that is, all things desirable to God and by him deemed necessary. To oppose 'unity meetings' is not to oppose unity. God has given his plan for unity. I John 1:7 "but if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin." God coordinated the work of the churches when he assigned the same mission to each. The functions of the church at Thessalonica was in no way different from that of Philippi.

To insist on institutions not authorized by the scripture is to manifest distrust in the Lord's appointments.