By Samuel F. Carter
The disciples of Christ had difficulty in understanding the words of their Master in this passage, and it seems that many today are equally confused. I am speaking of these sayings: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord. . .” (Col. 3:17); “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do” (Phil. 4:9); and “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).
These verses are quite simple and explicit as regards the law of divine guidance. Whatever is written by way of commandment, teaching, and approved example is what one is authorized to do. At least this is my interpretation, and I can not see any other interpretation which may be gotten. Of course, I am not an English scholar, so if I am wrong in this point, will someone out there please correct me? Now if my conclusion is correct, then everything done which is not authorized must then be unauthorized. With these principles and scriptures before us, I am completely amazed at the “bus ministry” now plaguing the Lord’s body.
I call your attention to the Sept. 19, 1974 issue of the Gospel Advocate, page 596, an article written by Gynnath Ford entitled Bus Evangelism Or “Playing Church. ” The article deals with the apparent successful bus ministry carried on by 4 congregations. They have attributed to the bus ministry 115 converts plus great attendances over a one year period. But please notice the justification for this bus ministry. “If you are not engaged in bus evangelism we want you to answer this question truthfully. Are you reaching the people of your community for Christ or are you just baptizing your children…?” This principle of justification of the practice evades me. Where do the scriptures read, “go ahead if the results are good?” I see no oracle of God with this import in the Word of God.
If the bus ministry is authorized by this means, then let us look at what else we may engage in. The attendance at the Gettysburg church would increase if we would only add a piano. I have been told this. Wouldn’t that be a good work to get some lost families to attend the Lord’s church, and not a denomination? Would having a Christmas program increase attendance? What about a pie supper after Sunday evening services? We could get the young children to come by building a recreation hall, so they could engage in games between services, at about the same cost as those 12 buses. We could also contribute to the Herald of Truth and sponsor a program on the local radio station. That would really get the gospel into a lot of homes.
Yes sir, we could do so much good work in so many different ways couldn’t we? But the verses still read, where is the authority for the buses, pianos, parties, pies, and games? The scriptures are silent on these points. Therefore, being silent, they are not authorized; we cannot engage in such practices. When will people realize that going beyond that which is written is a sin? The church has never been authorized to replace the gospel with a bus for the drawing power to God. Since when did the individual Christian begin to feel that his responsibility of personally getting his neighbor to attend the Lord’s church could be handled better by a gas-eater than by a warm invitation and the personal association and contact?
It may also be added that the argument to justify the bus ministry is the same one used to justify the Herald of Truth, Missionary Society, and pianos: They are just aids! As falls one, so fall all the others. There certainly are some hard sayings in the Bible, but they are only hard to those who have hardened their hearts to the truth. 2 Pet. 3:16 tells us they will go to their destruction.
Truth Magazine XIX: 12, pp. 189-190
January 30, 1975