Who Is Responsible?
Carol R. Lumpkin
No Bible student with his eyes half open will deny that the Lord's church in various places is not following the New Testament pattern in respect to the work and activities engaged in. Such innovations as church support of human benevolent institutions, sponsoring churches, fellowship halls, camps, day-care centers, secular education, kitchens, recreational halls, etc., are common in our age. Why, may I ask? Has there grown up a generation of people who are wiser than God? Has the authority of Jesus Christ lost its appeal? Are people really convinced that God will accept such foolishness? The Lord's church in many places which once stood for the truth can no longer be distinguished from modern denominationals. How regrettable!
Who is responsible for this sad appalling condition of the church of Christ in many places? Perhaps, we can answer by saying that each member of the local church must share the blame. God's word must be respected and accepted as the authority to govern the church. The New Testament authorizes elders in every church (Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5).
These men, meeting certain scriptural qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9), are to feed the church over which they serve (1 Pet. 5:2). Elders are subject to God in their oversight (Acts 20:28). Any change from the New Testament pattern would be without divine approval and sinful (2 Jn. 9).
Elders have no scriptural right to allow or to lead the church in a single practice which conflicts with scriptural authority. In a discussion some time ago with the elders of a liberal church of Christ at Newport, Arkansas, I asked for the authority for the use of the church building for scout meetings, Home Demonstrations Club Meetings, recreational rooms, baby and wedding showers, weddings with the organ. (They allowed all the above.) After some pressing they answered, (1) Matthew 28:19-20, and (2) the wisdom of the elders. Their idea being that perhaps this would be a means to teach someone the gospel of Christ. This kind of thinking and lack of wisdom are causes for the church of Christ being in the sinful condition it is in. Instead of wisdom on the part of the elders, it is a lack of wisdom. The Scripture cited does not begin to endorse such practices. What a shame! What a show of rebellion against God!
The attitude of many who meet with "liberal churches" is that the elders are accountable to God for what the local church does, and the members are not answerable to God for such. The attitude is wide spread. This reasoning would allow some people to worship with the Christians Church; after all the members are not responsible for what the leaders do. I do not buy this! This shows a vast absence and disrespect for divine truth, either knowingly or unknowingly. It spells sin any way you view it.
John wrote, "That those who go onward and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 Jn. 9). The church and/or the individual who engages in works not approved by Scripture do not have God, regardless of how good it may appear to be. A faithful child of God must not, more over he will not, aid, abet, encourage, or lend in any way his approval to teach or spread error (2 Jn. 9-11).
My soul, and your soul, will be saved only by complying with the truth, God's word (Jn. 8:32). So it is very demanding on us to make certain the place which we worship follows the New Testament pattern. God will not accept anything but this.
We each are accountable to God for our own soul. Don't you believe that it is necessary to do what God's word teaches?
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 5, p. 149