Vol.II No.VIII Pg.7
September 1965

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

I have heard some say that since judgement will be on an individual basis rather than in family or church "groups," that there are no scriptures addressed to the local church as such: further, that there are no instructions in the NT for organized activities of saints.


(I have rewritten query to conserve space, state concisely. rft).

Who hath bewitched you? Surely it is clear that local churches are addressed in 1CO.1:2; GAL.1:2; PHI.1:1 etc (In PHI.1:1 "saints" are considered as making up an organized church, as shown by the additional and otherwise redundant expression: "with the bishops and deacons"). Of course this does not mean that all in these letters pertains to collective work. Instructions for "church" work is found in letters addressed to individuals (1TI.5:16) and vice-versa.

Judgement is on an individual basis, yes; but individuals will be judged as to their faithfulness in both independent and collective responsibilities.

An organized church is not something apart from saints, but is saints in a certain (collective) relationship with one-another.

Some have allowed "organization" to become a bogey-word. To say saints of a local church are "organized" is not to say that all features of all organizations are authorized; and it certainly doesn't say that groups of churches may organize. Webster, defining the word, quotes Coleridge as saying, "What is organization but the connection of parts in and for a whole, so that each part is, at once, end and means". When saints pool some means, and function as one under overseers, this is organized action. Does God authorize saints to act collectively? Yes! (MAT.18:17; PHI.4:15; 2CO.11:8 etc.). One function of the elders expedites the treatment of saints as a unit (ACT.11:30). Elders here either received on behalf of the church (over which they were bishops) or we must conclude that the elders were the only saints in need.

There are "rules" for collective activities; such as, which widows to be "taken into the number" (1TI.5:9) the collection (1CO.16:2) and sending of funds (1CO.16:3) conduct in the assembly (1CO.14:26-f) etc. Also, the scriptures recognize activities on the part of the collectivity by means of or through its "servants" (ACT.6:1-f.) regardless of an assembled status (ROM.16:1-2; PHI.2:25-f).

While it is true that some may neglect their responsibilities in team activities, erroneously thinking they may "ride" to glory on the works of others; this is no reason to deny the very real presence of collective, organized efforts in the scriptures. We need to teach the truth re. the local church, and urge brethren to function in their rightful capacities. We will not help matters by saying saints may "independently work collectively" as one very confused fellow put it. See "The Church Cannot Read" for discussion of another facet of this particular subject.