Ephraim’s Idols: How to Keep the Church Pure

By Ron Halbrook

The way to keep the church pure and true to the New Testament is to keep Christians informed. In October, 1959, the following series was preached at the Franklin Road Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee: “Give Us a King” by Harris J. Dark, “Contending for the Faith” and “The Organization of the Church” by Charles M. Campbell, “Speaking As the Oracles of God” by Irven Lee, “The All-Sufficiency of the Bible” by E.L. Flannery, “Divisions, Who Is Responsible?” by James P. Miller, “According to the Pattern” by Stanley J. Lovett, “Church Cooperation” by Cecil B. Douthitt, “The Glorious Church and Its Purpose” by Curtis Porter, “The Care of the Needy” by Herschel Patton, “The Individual Christian’s Responsibility” by Bennie Lee Fudge, and “When Should One Change?” by James A. Allen. The result of such teaching is that Franklin Road does its own work to this day without donating its funds to benevolent societies, colleges, and corporations which build apartment complexes. Reading these lessons as a teenager helped me greatly and I am glad to see that they are back in print (published by Norris Book Company of Russellville, Alabama and available through Truth Magazine Bookstore, Box 403, Marion, Indiana 46952).

In an age of immorality, much of it defended by preachers of situation ethics, sound teaching is needed on the home in God’s plan. Several of the preachers named above have gone to their reward, but Brother Irven Lee and his good wife are continuing to labor on earth in behalf of the eternal gospel. The Knollwood Church of Christ of Xenia, Ohio believes that gospel preaching purifies the souls and lives of people. On the call-in radio program paid for by the church, Brother Lee was interviewed 26 November, 1978 regarding what the Bible says about the home and family, then the audience was invited to ask questions. From 29 November through 3 December Brother Lee spoke at Knollwood on “Problems Young People Face,” “Unwanted Children,” “The Woman’s Liberation Movement and Other Sinister Forces That Would Destroy the Home,” “Why Are There So Many Divorces?”, “I Am Bored! What Can We Do?”, and “Man’s Place in the Home.” On the same days Sister Lee taught a morning class for women on “A Good Foundation,” “Partners in Marriage,” “Accepting Parenthood,” “Parents and Teenagers,” and “The Broken Home.” Dozens of copies of Brother Lee’s 205 page book on Good Homes in a Wicked World and tract on Preparation for Marriage were distributed to those who attended these lessons. (His 196-page Preaching in a Changing World and tracts Do All Roads Lead to Heaven? and Friendly Letter on Benevolence are also excellent, as are her books Stories About Jesus and Stories About God’s First People for young children.) We commend the Lee’s for their good work in the gospel; they may be addressed at P.O. Box 866, Hartselle, Alabama 35640.

We have noticed recently that other churches are having special series on “Calvinism,” “Grace, Unity, and Fellowship,” “Morality,” and other such subjects. We must be vigorous and aggressive in preaching the gospel to the lost so that the church may grow, while also preaching vigorously and aggressively to the church so that it may be pure! There is no room for Ephraim’s.Idols in hearts and lives that are filled with the gospel of Christ.

Their Pride Is Their Shame

In the October 1978 North Carolina Christian, a journal supposedly fighting the idols of liberalism, Jim Stutts enthusiastically reported concerning Houston, Texas,

Joe Schubert, minister of the Bammel Road church, preaches beneath a basketball goal each service. Joe encourages those seeking to reach the community for Christ to build a “multipurpose” building rather a monastery! The multipurpose building can be used for worship, fellowship, recreational activities, visual presentations – all geared toward reaching the lost. This congregation is one of the fastest growing in the brotherhood, setting a brotherhood record contribution last year of $1,104,000.

The choice seems clear enough, doesn’t it? We can build meeting houses on the “monastery” model, i.e. designed exclusively for the spiritual work of worship and teaching, ,or else build gymnastic cathedrals! That which gives these brethren the most pride ought to be their greatest shame “ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned” (1 Cor. 5:2). The Lord’s church is`to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15), not a “multipurpose” organization to provide “the community” with social and recreation services. All the way from Texas, we can hear the Bammel Road brethren citing in unison, “I am not ashamed of the multipurpose building, with its basketball goal for reaching the lost, for this indeed is the very power (of God – omitted from best manuscripts) unto salvation!” That is Ephraim 1:16.

If the North Carolina Christian fairly represents the enemies of Ephraim’s idols, they need no friends. Their worst enemies are their best friends.

Truth Magazine XXIII: 14, pp. 230-231
April 5, 1979