Bible Basics: Numerical Growth

By Earl Robertson

After the contention between Barnabas and Paul as to whether they should take John Mark with them on the second tour of gospel preaching, Paul chose Silas and Barnabas chose Mark. It would have been scriptural to take Mark but Paul felt it would not be expedient. This action did not break the fellowship between Paul and Barnabas. They did not split apart over judgment and neither should we. Grounds for cleavage of fellowship must be faith.

The evangelistic efforts of Paul and Silas took them through Syria and Cilicia. “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the degrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:4, 5). These brethren were of the conviction that churches could not be established in the truth (faith) unless they knew the apostolic decrees. Preaching apostolic doctrine will establish churches and it will maintain them! When Book, Chapter, and Verse preaching ceases that is when churches cease growing and start dying. I think we can judge the, kind of preaching some churches are getting by watching the development of conditions within these churches.

As they went forth preaching the highest authority in the kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 19:28; Acts 2:42), they did so in view of the churches keeping what was preached. Divine authority, expressed by the Lord’s apostles, can never-be exchanged for something else and the right results exist. Neither can man go beyond. what is written, binding such upon churches through his preaching (2 John 9). Institu-, tionalized brethren do this very thing! They preach a human judgment which goes beyond the word of the Lord and so bind it upon the churches that they split them apart. They will tell us that churches do not have- to support Potter Home and School or David Lipscomb College, but they go right on anyway to the division of fellowship. Apostolic decrees :were delivered “for to keep.”

Luke says, “And so were the churches established in-the faith, and increased in number daily.” It was by means of apostolic truth preached unto these brethren that they were established. in the faith, and increased in number daily. There is no -acceptable substitute for gospel preaching! This is a truth that some brethren will never learn. The present condition of some churches causes us to know this to be true.

Truth Magazine XXIII: 46, pp. 738
November 22, 1979