Who Is It That Troubleth Israel?
James W. Sasser
Back in the Old Testament we read about a base and evil king; this king was more evil and base than any of the other kings of his day. This king was named Ahab. During his reign there was a prophet of the Most High God, by the name of Elijah, that prophesied telling king Ahab of his wickedness and of the destruction that he was bringing upon himself and his people.
One day Ahab saw Elijah and this is what he said: "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" (I Kings 18:17.) Now this wicked and base king Ahab asked this question of the inspired prophet Elijah, as if to imply that Elijah was causing all the trouble. Friend, who do you think was causing the trouble in Israel?
Then we have a similar case in the New Testament, where the inspired apostle Paul was teaching in the city of Philippi. Paul was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to a group of heathen people, idol worshippers. But some of them saw that their evil means of gain had been taken away and they laid hold on Paul and brought him before the magistrates and here is what they said: "These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city." (Acts 16:20.) Neighbor, who do you think was causing the trouble in this case? The inspired apostle Paul and his followers who were preaching the gospel of Christ or the idol worshippers?
Now, let us notice some more cases and try to determine who is it that troubleth Israel. (Spiritual Israel is the church of our Lord.)
The inspired New Testament says that it is scriptural for a local congregation of the Lord's church to help its own local needy in its own local area. (Acts 2:41-45, 4:32-37; 6:1-6.) But there are those that say: "Yes, we believe that, but we are going to build our human benevolent societies and round up people from all over the country 'regardless of creed' and put them in the benevolent institutions and let the church pay for it out of her treasury." "Oh, you mean we don't have any scripture for such. Well we don't need any scripture for it as long as we are doing good."
Dear reader, who is it in the above case that is causing the trouble in spiritual Israel? Is it those that want to stay with inspired teaching or is it those that want to add the human benevolent societies to the work of the church?
Again, the inspired New Testament teaches that it is scriptural for a local congregation of the Lord's church to send aid directly to a congregation of the Lord's church that is in need, placing the aid into the hands of the elders of the local needy congregation. (Acts 11:27-30, Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16: 1-4; 2 Cor. 8,9.) But there are those that say: "Yes, we believe the scriptures teach that, but we are going to set up a central organization to receive these funds from the local congregations and disperse them as they are needed." "Oh, you say there is no scripture for such arrangement. Well who needs a scripture as long as we are getting the job done. And besides, there is no scripture that says we can't." (Shades of instrumental music days.)
Be honest brethren, who is it in such cases as the above that are troubling spiritual Israel, those that agree that there is a safe way, yet go ahead and do those things for which they have no scripture, or those that want to follow the safe course?
The inspired New Testament tells us that a congregation of the Lord's church can scripturally do its own evangelistic work under the oversight of its own local elders without sending to some super man-made organization to let them do it. (I Thes. 1:8; Eph. 3:8-11; 1 Tim. 3:14, 15; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-4.) But there are those that say: "Yes, we know that it can be done that way scripturally, but look what good the Herald of Truth has done with its radio program and its dramatic television show. Don't tell us, 'that with all of that great and wonderful coverage, that we have no scripture for it, for who needs scripture when such a great 'soul-saving' enterprise is in action?"
Beloved soul, will you tell me truly who in such instance is causing trouble in Israel? Is it he who wants scripture and safety or is it he who has no respect for unity, casting aside all that would bring us together as one and that being a "thus saith the Lord" for all we teach and practice in religion?
The scriptures teach that it is right for individual Christians to help all men in need. (Gal. 6:1-10.) But there are those that say, "Yes, we believe that, but the church out of its treasury can help ALL men in need." They say such things as this without having one scripture that will allow for that teaching. The only scriptures we have in the New Testament concerning benevolent help from the church treasury refer only to those among the saints that are qualified in other ways, such as the widow in need. (I Tim. 5:3, 9, 10, 16.) In every case where benevolent aid out of the church treasury is mentioned, it refers that help to needy saints. (Acts 2:44; 4:32-34; 6:1; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16: 1; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:1, 12, 13; 1 Tim. 5:3, 9-11, 16.) I accept this teaching from the word of God, so who is it that is troubling the church today?
The scriptures teach that it is right for a congregation to send help directly or should I say support directly to the preacher in his work. (Phil. 4:15-18; 2 Cor. 11:8,9; Phil. 1:3-8.) But there are those that say, "Yes we believe that, but it is alright for one congregation to be a sponsoring agent, receiving and dispersing funds to the preachers in the field." The only thing wrong with the latter position is that there is not one word of scripture to support it. I believe that the Bible way is the best way. So, who is it that is troubling the church?
The Bible teaches that a congregation can edify, or build itself up by studying and obeying the word of God. (Eph. 4: 1-16; Rom. 14:19, 1 Cor. 14:26; 1 Thes. 5:11; Acts 20:32.) The edifying is primarily in the spiritual realm and not necessarily in physical numbers. If the spiritual growth is present the physical growth will naturally follow. (2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Pet. 2:1, 2; Eph. 4:15.) But, there are those that say, "Yes, we believe that, but we also believe the church can entertain and feed people in order to get them to come out to services." The thing wrong with this position is that their belief did not come from hearing the word of God, (Rom. 10:17) because scripture does not allow it. I believe what the Bible says on this subject and I teach that. So, who is it that is troubling the church?
Now for a few questions. Is Paul's statement in (Gal. 6:10) a command to congregations of the Lord's church, from their treasury, to do good to ALL men? If so, then he contradicts himself in 1 Tim. 5:9, 11, 16 because here he names some people that are not to be helped from the church treasury. Who wants to say that the inspired apostle contradicted himself?
Is a book that is addressed to a church or churches, such as the Book of Galatians (Gal. 1:2), exclusive of any instructions to individual Christians as such? (Brethren point this out to prove that Gal. 6: 10 is talking to the church as such). If the answer to the above question is yes, then what about the Book of Acts? It is written to an individual. (Acts 1:1.) But it also has instructions to churches as such. (2:42; 14:23; 20:7.)
Is (Acts 20:7) a binding example for partaking of the Lord's supper on the first day of the week? If the answer is yes, then what about these examples? (Acts 2:45; 4:32-35; 6:1-7; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25-28,31; 1 Cor. 16:1_4; 2 Cor. 8. 9; Eph. 4-11-13; Phil. 1: 4-7; 4: 15- 18) ? Notice the restrictions on the churches in these examples. If the answer to the question concerning Acts 20: 7 is no, then why not take the Lord's supper on Wednesday night or some other day other than the first day of the week? Acts 20:7 is the only scripture in the New Testament that specifies the day on which we are to partake of the Lord's supper and notice that it is just an example. I accept these examples as binding upon us today. So, who is it that is troubling the church?
If it is right and scriptural to take money from the church treasury to help all men, then why didn't Peter and John go to the treasury of the church to get help for the lame beggar mentioned in (Acts 3:1-10)?
They had no money as individuals and the congregation at Jerusalem at that time was a very large congregation. I believe we need to get a lesson from this example.
Is it the HOW or the METHOD that the argument is over? Then we have no argument for I believe that the church can use expedient means or methods to carry on its work in the fields of evangelism, edification, and benevolence. But if it is the WHO or WHAT ORGANIZATION is to do the work that God gave the church to do, then the Bible says that the church itself is able to do its own work in the framework of its own organization. Think, think, think, brethren and friends. Let no emotional grade of words lead you away from the word of God.
Let us all be sure that we know who it is that is troubling the church before we falsely accuse our brethren. Would to God that harmony prevailed throughout the Lord's church, but not at the expense of the truth.
Truth Magazine VII: 1, pp. 22-24,