Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1956

The Divine Plan

P. J. Casebolt, Weirton, West Virginia

It seems that we are living in an age of plans and methods. In fact, there is a popular organization in government circles known as the "Ways and Means Committee." Religious institutions of human origin are old hands in this field, and it may be that civil lawyers borrowed the idea from religious lawyers. This one thing is certain, however, that brethren have borrowed (or stolen) this practice of "new ways and means" either from religious circles or governmental circles, for the house which the Lord pitched was not the originator of the many modern plans and systems which prevail today.

What is wrong with finding more efficient and up-to-date methods of doing a particular task? Nothing is wrong if it doesn't violate some divine principle. If God has not inferred that we do a certain thing in a certain way, then it makes no difference how it is done, and we have no right to oppose our religious neighbors regardless of how they may do the same thing. But, whenever there is some divine plan set forth by the Scriptures, or whenever there is some divine principle which cannot be violated, we should be content with doing a thing in God's own way, for his "ways and thoughts" are higher than ours. Isa. 55:8.

Building Churches

The Lord built a church. Mt. 16:18; Eph. 3:10. Not only did the Lord build a church, but he condemned the building of other churches, by other men. Ps. 127:1; Mt. 15:13. The Lord first died, and then built the church which honors his name. By purchasing it with his blood, he made salvation and membership in his church co-extensive and inseparable.

The Scriptures teach that certain ones would depart from the true church, identified them and their doctrines, and that, this departure was 'beginning in Paul's day. 1 Tim. 4:1-4; 2 Thes. 2:1-7. History informs us that this departure resulted in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, with headquarters at Rome, Italy. This was the first church uninspired, unauthorized men ever built. It is the mother of all other human churches, all of which are built on the commandments and doctrines of men.

After a few centuries of continuous corruption and departures from the faith, some began to open their eyes, which had been blinded by the fears and mysteries of Catholicism. Martin Luther decided to do something about it. He devised a plan to reform the corrupt Catholic Church, which resulted in the establishment of the Lutheran Church. Even though we grant that Luther had sufficient reason to be dissatisfied with the Catholic Church, did that authorize him to build another human institution? Why did he not content himself with the divine plan, and return to the church which the Lord had built fifteen centuries before? It was because Luther was trying to out-plan the Catholic Church. It was one human plan against another. Which is the better, may be debatable, but one thing is certain, that neither the Catholic Church nor the Lutheran Church is built according to the divine plan.

From the time that Luther threw his hat in the church building ring, there has been a mad scramble by men and women to see who can build the best church, and come up with the best plan, in order to satisfy the "itching ears" of humanity. 2 Tim. 4:1-4. My brethren can see this manifestation of human wisdom, and readily condemn Denominationalism as erroneous, and contrary to the divine plan.

Collection Money

Now, according to the brethren, I am about to quit preaching, and begin meddling. In other words, I'm turning the searchlight upon certain practices of certain brethren, instead of upon Sectarianism. There have been many plans for collecting money to do religious work. We have rightly condemned such plans as begging from the public, holding raffles, ice cream socials, plays, musk, baby shows, and I suppose a hundred other ways, that have been employed to raise money. Yet, there are brethren who are not content with the divine plan of collecting money outlined in 1 Cor. 16:1,2. The "pledge system" has been advocated by some brethren, with all of its related points. The only thing we can promise or "pledge" the Lord, is that we will give as we are prospered. Beyond this, we "know not what shall be on the morrow," and cannot promise something we don't have. Jas. 4:14; 2 Cor. 8:12.

Now, the brethren (or brother) sends you a dollar, suggests you put another with it, and return it to him in a self-addressed envelope. What shall I do? Don't I love the poor and the unfortunate to the extent of a dollar? Yes, but I can't engage in such an intimidating plan as that, and encourage the one who propagates it. All I know to do is put the money in my pocket and use it discreetly and wisely before God. If the same brother, or others, wants to "up the ante" and send more, I would try to use it wisely also.

Caring For The Needy

If there is no divine plan for relieving the afflicted and needy, then it makes no difference how we do it. Why not rob banks at gun point, and turn the proceeds over to the needy, and, of course (I speak lightly), by sending it through some brotherhood organization. But this Robin Hood method would violate the command, "Let him that stole steal no more." Yes, it would, and though no brother has tried to explain that inspired statement away, it probably could be done some way once the bank was robbed. If it could be done, I have a few brethren who could do it!

The divine plan is for me to care for MY own, and the church to care for ITS own. 1 Tim. 5:3-16. If I fail to care for MY own, then the divine plan is for the church to withdraw fellowship from me, for I have "denied the faith" and have become "worse than an infidel." If I am unable, then other relatives, or brethren, can take the responsibility, and not let the church be charged. This plan will work. God did not tell us how to do a thing, and then create circumstances that would make it impossible to follow the divine plan.

Training Children

The home is the divine institution for training children in the way they should go Proper recreation and association are responsibilities of Christian parents. Yet, I have letters in my files from brethren claiming that children receive more and better training in a two weeks "Christian Summer Youth Camp" than the same children would receive in a year's time from their own parents, who are Christians (?) themselves. If this be so, the answer is for preachers to reprove and rebuke such parents, and preach the importance of the home in God's plan. As long as we recruit young people for the "Camps," and run off to the hills with them, just that long will Christian parents be relieved of their duty, and the situation become worse.

Changing Plans

Suppose men desire to change from a human plan to the divine plan? What will become of the children in the brotherhood "homes"; the old people in the "Old Folk's Homes"; the young people in the "Youth Camps?" It is true that whenever man departs from God's plan, situations arise which are perplexing and difficult to solve. In many cases I do not know the "how" even when I know the "wherefore." This is not God's fault, nor is it the fault of brethren who did not advocate the human plan in the first place. It may take a while to remedy some existing situations, and I hope that some brethren apply the remedy before the Lord comes. But, if a generation of preachers fail to preach the divine plan, the resulting departure cannot be corrected overnight. It may take another generation of preaching to correct the evils that arise from ignoring God's institutions, his "ways and thoughts."

Let us resolve now to preach and work the divine plan in all things. If we do not, the younger preachers of today can only blame themselves if within another generation human plans have not been supplanted.