I Am Set for the Defense of the Gospel - Phil. 1:17

Richard Weaver
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The following is a quotation from the East Main Street Bulletin, November 1, 1959:

Some are asking for book, chapter and verse for the authority for supporting homes for children with a board of directors. Here is the chapter, verse, etc. It follows immediately after these verses:

  • The verse authorizing the church to build a preacher's home, pay him a fancy salary, build him an office for his private study.
  • It follows the verse that authorizes brethren to divide assemblies into classes and teach using uninspired literature.
  • It is just after the book, chapter and verse that tells a Christian to take orphan children into his private home.
  • It is right after the verse that authorizes individual communion cups.
  • And right close onto the book, chapter and verse that authorizes the elders to take the Lord's day contribution to pay preachers.

6. And right after the "pattern" of a church building a building of any description.

We are not yet ready to surrender our liberty.

-Virgil Bradford.

The time was when gospel preachers would readily give scriptural authority for their practices. The reason? They could give it and if brother Bradford could give book, chapter and verse for his teaching and practice he, too, would do so. Thus, it is very obvious by his above dodge that he cannot quote the passage for churches contributing from the treasury to benevolent organizations that are separate and apart from God's divine organization, the church of Jesus Christ. If he could have, he would have. He hasn't, he can't.

It appears that brother Bradford is trying to say that we do not need scriptural authority for everything we do. If not, why did he say the authority for the church contributing to a centralized, human, benevolent organization is right after the verse that authorizes these six items he has listed? I believe we need a "thus saith the Lord" to authorize our every teaching and practice. Col. 3:17, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name (by, the authority) of the Lord Jesus. . ." Too, the word of God furnishes us completely unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). So if the practice under question is a good work, we can read about it in the inspired scriptures. Furthermore, Paul said, "we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor. 5 :7. Faith is produced by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Brother Bradford is typical of some of our preachers today. He is saying that we don't have to walk by faith, by the teaching of the word of God, because after all we don't have scriptural authority for everything we do. This attitude I deny and am set for the defense of the gospel. I believe there is scriptural authority for the six items he listed. If there is not, we better not go beyond that which is written (I Cor. 4:6 ASV) for if we go beyond the doctrine of Christ, we will not have God (2 John 9).

No. 1 - Authority to Support Preacher and Build a Home

Every command carries with it authority to do everything necessary to the carrying out of that command. The scriptures teach, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." I Cor. 9:14. Since providing a horne, a place to live, is part of the support the preacher receives from the church, it is authorized by the above passage. Yes, the church is authorized to build a preacher's home and pay him a reasonable salary, not a "fancy" one though as he termed it.

However, if some brethren were to set up a human organization to build preachers' homes and support the preachers with contributions received from churches everywhere, I would oppose it. Indeed, I would be anti preachers' home then. Yes, there is scriptural authority for the church to support preachers but now read the verse that immediately follows I Cor. 9:14 and see if it authorizes the church frorn the treasury supporting a benevolent society. Brother Bradford said that it would.

No. 2 - Authority for Bible Classes and Literature

Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15 is authority for dividing the assemblies into classes, for using literature that teaches the gospel, for using maps, chalkboards, filmstrips, etc. Jesus said, "teach" but he didn't say HOW. Therefore, we may employ any method (pulpit, Bible classes, literature including this very medium, radio, TV) of teaching for when the church uses any or all of these methods, it is the church supporting the work Jesus authorized-namely, teaching.

On the other hand, if some well meaning, zealous brethren were to say, "Jesus said we are to preach the gospel but he didn't say HOW so, therefore, we may start a missionary societv (a human organization) through which to preach the gospel to the world," I would oppose it. Would brother Bradford? He doesn't oppose the church contributing from the treasury to a benevolent society for he says, like the rest of the brethren defending human institutions, "the Bible doesn't say HOW." So according to this logic, they justify church support of centralized, benevolent organizations. By the same reasoning brethren of old who eventually started the Christian Church justified churches contributing to the United Christian Missionary Society. Our brethren today in justification of their benevolent societies under a board of directors are using the same thread bare arguments-"the Bible doesn't say HOW" and "the Bible doesn't forbid it"-that the Christian Church and the denominationalists have used in defense of the missionary society and instrumental music.

Now read the verses that follow Matt. 28:19 and Mark 16:15. According to brother Bradford's article they authorize the church contributing to a human organization that cares for the needy.

No. 3 - Authority for Christians to Take Orphans Into Private Home

They say that the Bible doesn't say HOW. Now brother Bradford says that the verse that authorizes the church contributing to Tennessee Orphan Home Corporation is just after the book, chapter and verse that tells a Christian HOW he is to take care of fatherless children. I agree with him that the Bible doesn't say HOW individuals are to do the work. Neither does the Bible say HOW the church is to do it. The HOW refers to methods as when Jesus said, "teach" and didn't say HOW. The HOW is not the issue. They would have you think it is a question of methods employed (HOW). The issue is however, WHICH organization is to do the work? Is the church, God's divine organization, to do the work, or turn work, funds and oversight of this work over to a human organization, Tennessee Orphan Home Corporation?

James 1:27 is the verse that directs Christians to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. In their language, "it does not say HOW." Therefore, this authorizes a Christian to take an orphan into his private home as one of the methods. The benevolent society, however, is not a method. It is an organization that has to employ means and methods also. Therefore, the church cannot use the benevolent society as a method (this is the issue) because it is a separate and a human organization that has to do exactly what the church would have to do to care for them.

Now read the next verse after James 1:27. According to brother Bradford's reasoning, it is supposed to authorize the church supporting a human organization with its board of directors that furnishes the home, the place, for the needy to live.

No. 4 - Authority for Individual Cups

Brother Bradford next says, "It is right after the verse that authorizes individual cups." Again we point up the scripture that authorizes this. If I didn't have scriptural authority for them, I wouldn't use them. When Jesus spoke of drink the cup (I Cor. 11:25) he used a figure of speech called metonymy. He was speaking of the contents of the container as the cup and not the container itself. To illustrate, a mother may say about her baby, "She's crying for her bottle." No, not really. The baby wants the milk in the bottle! Indeed, we all drink one cup when when we partake of the fruit of the vine.

Be sure to read the next verse after I Cor. 11:25. Brother Bradford says it's his authority for the church from the treasurv contributing to Tennessee Orphan Home Corporation.

No. 5 - Authority for Using the Contribution to Support Preachers

I Cor. 16:1-2 teaches relative to the collection for the poor saints that the Corinthians were "upon the first day of the week" to "lay by him in store." J. W. McGarvey, page 161 of Standard Bible Commentary said, "The word 'thesaurizoon' translated 'in store,' means, literally, 'put into the treasury'." From the treasury the poor saints were to be supported. From what did the early church support preachers, if not from the treasury? I Cor. 9:14; 2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 1:3-5 and 4:15-18 authorize the church paying a preacher.

Read these verses and the ones that are right close. They authorize, according to brother Bradford, the church contributing from the treasury to "a body politic and corporate by the name and style of The Tennessee Orphan Home." (Quotation from certified copy of Charter of Incorporation, 1909.)

No. 6 - Authority for Church Building

Brother Bradford said that the book, chapter and verse for the church contributing from the treasury to a centralized brotherhood project which does a work which the local church is adequate and sufficient to do is "right after the 'pattern' of a church building a building of any description." Well then, read Heb. 10: 26 for that's the verse right after the one that authorizes the church building a meeting place. As we said at the outset, every command carries with it authority to do everything necessary to the carrying out of that command. Therefore, since we are commanded to assemb!e (Heb. 10:25), this authorizes the church providing a place to meet for worship.

Brother Bradford considers all these items matters of libertv. Hence he suggests his reason for doing them not because of faith based upon doing the will of the Lord but doing as he pleases because of liberty.

"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17.)

Truth Magazine IV:3, pp. 8-10
December 1959