Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 24, 1957
NUMBER 25, PAGE 6-7,9b

Modern Problems Confronting The Church -- No. II.

J. P. Lusby, Amarillo, Texas

In their frantic effort to justify human institutions in the religious realm brethren today cry method, shout arrangement, and hollo procedure. They affirm the whole matter is a question of functioning.

Does the fact that the church can employ different methods in going and teaching the gospel justify the Missionary Society? If the fact that different methods can be employed in doing what God commands to be done justifies the human organization in benevolence, then it justifies the human organization in evangelism. If it does not justify the human organization in evangelism, it does not justify the human organization in benevolence.

Suppose a Christian church preacher should argue that the Missionary Society is justified on the ground God didn't say how to go and teach. What would you say? How would you reply? If he said it is simply a question of judgment, what would be your answer? If you can answer him, then you ought to have no trouble in answering those who are clamoring for a humanly authorized organization in the realm of benevolence, and claiming that it is only a method, arrangement, procedure, or mode of function.

Method and procedure and function do not authorize the church to build and maintain human organizations through which to operate.

The Authority Of Methods

Methods are sometimes projected into the realm of doctrine, and become doctrine. Method and dogma go hand in hand, therefore method and doctrine come hand in hand. The methods of Methodism are the doctrines of Methodism. They are the methods of authority by which the great Methodist fraternity is governed.

It seems that in our day the Sponsoring Church method and the Benevolent Society method are destined to become tenets of faith and items of doctrine in churches of Christ, just as the Missionary Society method did in the Christian Church. You must either submit or suffer quarantine. This brings us to the question of authority.

How Is A Thing Authorized?

The Bible is the revelation of God's will to man. From it there is no appeal. It is the final authority. The word of God, therefore, is that which authorizes a matter in the realm of religion, not human opinion. Frequently brethren say, "O, it is just a matter of judgment," and they dismiss it with a wave of the hand. Bible authority, not human opinion, is that which authorizes any act, any organization, or any doctrine within churches of Christ.

The Bible authorizes a matter in three ways: by direct statement, by approved example, by necessary implication. If there is any other way by which the scriptures authorize a thing, it has never been advanced. The following will illustrate these three ways:

Direct Statement

Paul, instructing the Corinthians to a proper observance of the supper, said: "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus . . . took bread: And when he had given thanks, he ... said, Take eat: . . this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, . . . this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Cor. 11:23-25. "This do in remembrance of me" is a direct statement. This is the precept for the observance of the supper.

Approved Example

"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread ..." Acts 20:7. The apostle Paul was present and approved the action. Therefore, we have a divine precedent for observing the Lord's supper on the first day of the week. By this example alone can the time of its observance be ascertained. To observe it any other day is transgression of the law.

A preacher said recently that examples authorize nothing. A group of preacher students from one of "our" colleges attended a meeting not long ago in which I did the preaching. They reported that one of their instructors taught them that Acts 20:7 is not an exclusive example, that it is all right to eat the Lord's supper on some other day just so long as you eat it on Sunday too — that it is not an exclusive example. In order to uphold their humanly authorized institutions some will forsake the truth of God's word. They are running from the teaching of the word of God by approved example. If Acts 20:7 is not an approved example, exclusive in nature, then we are at sea as to when to partake of the supper. We simply do not know, and we might as well join with the Catholics and turn it into a Mass and have it every day in the week and every hour in the day. How long will it be before they will be burning candles on Thursday evening, dedicating babies. and eating the Lord's supper while the organ plays softly? The Christian Church disregarded the authority of God's word and set up human wisdom as authority, and there is no limit to which they will go in departure. The ultraliberals are today eating the Lord's supper, or what they call the Lord's supper, on Thursday evening by candle light while the organ plays.

The Digressive Pattern

The digressive pattern is set forth by the apostle Paul, 2 Tim. 4:1-4. "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers. having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

I like to hunt quail and fish for bass. There are seasons on both. I got to thinking about that matter — if it is not in season then it is out of season, and if it is not out of season then it is in season. Paul said preach the word in season and out of season. That simply means preach it all the time. Preach it when it is popular and Preach it when it is unpopular. Preach it when they want it and preach it when they do not want it. Preach it when men agree and preach it when they disagree. Preach it when they commend you for it and preach it when they condemn you for it. Preach it when they will hug your neck and preach it when they will cut your throat. Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season, "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." Sound doctrine is Bible Doctrine. The time will come when such principles as those with which we are dealing will become stale to the taste of brethren and a mockery in their ears. "They will not endure sound doctrine" — the truth — but "shall be turned unto fables" — unto error, the doctrines, dogmas, and opinions of uninspired men. "After their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." Not that the teachers have itching ears, but the people whose ears are itching for unsound doctrine will employ preachers that will scratch the ear where it itches.

The worst place you can have the itch is in your ear. Most all people have had it, but scarcely anybody will admit having it. Here are some brethren who had the itch in their ears. They hired teachers who would scratch the ear where it itched. They had to do with an attitude toward the truth. They didn't love the truth, they didn't want the truth, they couldn't' endure he truth, they wouldn't have the truth. They itched for something else, and they received that for which they itched — for which they longed. There are always those preachers who will preach what the people want preached. They will preach it for a price. That was true in the days of Jeremiah. God said: "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings." Jer. 23:21.22. Again: "For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord." Jer. 29:8,9. The people wanted to hear those dreams, so the prophets dreamed them and proclaimed them. That is the digressive pattern.

Necessary Implication

The third way the Bible imparts instruction is by necessary implication. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread." Acts 20:7. We infer, and necessarily so, and the scripture implies, and essentially so, that it is the first day of every week. Ex. 20:8 the command was: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." That meant every sabbath. Later a man was found gathering sticks on the sabbath day. God said stone him to death. Num. 15:32-36. Why? He transgressed the law. Suppose he had remonstrated: "Lord, I remembered the sabbath before, and you didn't say every sabbath day. The command was simply remember the sabbath day, and I have remembered one." Do you suppose he would have been set free? The command to remember the sabbath day meant the sabbath day of every week. The day upon which the disciples assembled was the first day of every week. Therefore, as long as weeks continue to have first days in them the faithful must assemble thereon to break bread, to eat the Lord's supper.

There are no further ways by which the Bible teaches, yet some are attempting to add other ways.

Principle Eternal

Brother E. R. Harper, in the Lufkin debate, argued there was a fourth way by which God taught. That was through what he styled "principle eternal." After much discussion and the passing of time it finally evolved that what he meant by "principle eternal" was the same thing that the Christian Church group meant when they argued expediency as relates to the Missionary Society.

It is true that the Bible contains eternal principles. For example, God always has and always shall require faith in his word and obedience to his law on the part of the man who receives the blessing. That is an eternal principle. It was true before the law was given, it was true while the law was in force, and it is true throughout the gospel dispensation. But it is taught by direct statement. It is taught by approved example. It is taught by necessary implication. It is taught in all three ways. Brother Harper was arguing that matters are taught by principle eternal separate from direct statement, approved example, and necessary inference. He just wandered around, groped about, and came up with that idea. It does not have a New Testament basis. It means about the same as "the law of expediency."


Some say there is authority in "the law of expediency." The truth is there is no such law in the book of God. "But what about 1 Cor. 6:12 and 1 Cor. 10:23?" I believe those passages, and preach them, but they do not speak of a law of expediency. The first reference reads: "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." The second: "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." An expedient that divides the body of Christ and tears asunder that body of people for which Christ gave his own precious blood ceases to be an expedient. If it doesn't promote unity and if it doesn't edify it could not possibly come within the classification of expediency.

These passages teach that a thing may be lawful and still not be expedient. "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Not all things that are lawful are expedient. Brethren today are reversing that. They are crying, all things are expedient whether lawful or not. Thus they are trying to bind their expediencies upon the consciences of others, and it is either submit or be disfellowshipped. Whenever it comes to a choice of fellowship with my brethren or fellowship with God I will just have to let my brethren go. Our fellowship with God is based upon doing what he says do. Paul said: "For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son." Rom. 1:9 R. V. "I serve God" — his manner of living. "In my spirit" — from the heart. "In the gospel of his Son" — his rule of conduct. Every man who serves God in his spirit in the gospel of God's son has fellowship with those who are doing likewise.

Fellowship does not mean entertainment, fellowship does not spell recreation, fellowship does not indicate the church must buy a camp off in the woods somewhere, and fellowship does not imply coffee and doughnuts, even if some brethren can smell them every time they read the word fellowship. Churches mail invitation to churches to attend "a short devotional, followed by some games and a period of fellowship." They mean by fellowship recreation and entertainment. They mean by fellowship filling their bellies. Paul said of some: "Whose God is their belly." Phil. 3:19. Some have lowered the religion of Christ and the church of our Lord to a carnal level. They "mind earthly things."

A thing may be lawful and still not be expedient — that was Paul's teaching. He also taught that we must have the law before we can have the expediency based upon that law.