A Medley of Matters
Before discovering the source of the following quotation, read the quotation itself, then discover its author and be surprised as was I.
". . . a scriptural church is a local assembly or church composed of baptized believers ONLY-that in their government and discipline each church is entirely separate and independent from all others -that it is a sovereign body, with Christ as its head, the Holy Spirit its administrator, and the Bible its only rule of faith and practice. Its work is to carry out the Great Commission. The churches can and do cooperate with each other in getting folks saved, scripturally baptized, and then teaching the saved and baptized to observe all things the Master has commanded. The Bible does SO teach."
You thought you were reading something authored by a gospel preached in defense of congregational autonomy and independence, didn't you? Well, it does sound like it doesn't it? But it was not written by a gospel preacher. I found it in the April 11, 1958 issue of the Ashland Avenue Baptist, Lexington, Ky., Clarence Walker, Editor.
Wouldn't it be a fine thing if we could arrange a meeting between this fellow and some of our brethren? They could teach him the truth on the plan of salvation, and he could properly instruct them concerning the organization and work of the church.
It is amazing, if discouraging, that denominationalists can see this scriptural teaching with reference to the church but some of our own brethren don't, or won't-not that they can't. Jesus' statement that "the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of light" (Lk. 16:8) seems rather appropriate just here. Some of our brethren need to take a stroll through the "museum" of sectdom and take a close look at the relics of yesterday's apostasies and thus get a glimpse of that to which their similar departures of today will ultimately lead. The seeds of apostasy like the seeds of nature always "bring forth after their kind."
I have not been able to find where a breaking down of congregational autonomy and independence ever failed to create an hierarchy. Maybe I haven't looked long enough, but I haven't found a single instance. If anyone else has I'd like to have it cited to me. I have just about formed the conclusion that once people disregard the teaching of the scriptures with reference to the autonomous, independent nature of a local congregation there is no resting place until an ecclesiastical hierarchy is reached.
The article from which the above quotation was taken is entitled WILL THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION SPLIT? Some of these people have thought in the past that such an organization was expedient and beneficial, but now it has developed into a high-handed dictator which gives them the choice of accepting its ipse dixits or face expulsion. The convention is trying to tell its members what to believe on church organization through its Sunday school literature. Some can't accept it, so they are withdrawing.
This same thing happened with reference to the missionary society about a hundred years ago among churches of Christ. Some brethren who saw the missionary society as an expedient means of preaching the gospel defended it as an innocent arrangement to that end. As time went on they saw the thing developing into a Frankenstein monster whose arms were long enough to span the continent and whose hands were strong enough to get a strangle hold on congregations all over the land. This they couldn't take, so they became its mortal enemies destined to fight it the rest of their lives.
Unless the seeds of apostasy are exceptions to the unalterable law of sowing and reaping the present crop of centralizations of power and congregational combines among churches of Christ will ultimately culminate in some sort of an hierarchy unseen and unthought of by those who presently promote and defend them. Some of us will live long enough to see many of them renounce them and grieve the rest of their lives for ever having thought they could use such.
The story is told of a man who obtained a cub lion for his children's pet. They nourished it, loved it and reared it as one of the family. One day as the children were wrestling it in a game of great fun it's wild instinct went into rage and it devoured them. The father was left to grieve the rest of his life for ever having allowed such a dangerous creature among his children. Is it necessary to make the application?
Life is a strange word, and a strange thing, yet loved by most of us. Few people had rather die than live. Though life is strange death is even more so, thus most of us had rather cling to life than explore death.
Life has been described in various ways and has been the subject of many questions. What is that having we live, and having not we die? The minute we begin to live we begin to die -- we just begin to learn how to live when we die! What is life? A perfectly healthy man walks down the street-someone puts a bullet through his head-he falls to the pavement. He still looks and weighs the same. His body still contains the same chemical elements. What is the difference between him now and before? He was animate before, he is inanimate now --why? His life is gone, you answer. But, what is life?
Ingersol, the noted infidel, said in an immortal oration at his brother's funeral, "LIFE is a narrow vail between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. . ." Franklin, the great statesman, said, "Do not squander time for it is the stuff out of which LIFE is made."
Truly, 1ife is time. Time to be tried, time to prepare for a better world--"For verily in this we groan longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven . . . Now he that wrought us for this very thing is God . . ." (2 Cor. 5:1-5). He who wastes his time wastes his life and will find at the judgment that he has wasted his soul!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR TIME-YOUR LIFE?
Truth Magazine II:10, pp. 1, 17