By Carol R. Lumpkin
There is not a child of God but who would rejoice when a local church grows spiritually and in numbers. I would raise a question, “Are numbers always the best?” The right kind of numbers always is the best and will glorify God.
When the Jews obeyed the gospel Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41), they were added by the Lord to his church (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23). Each and every individual who has obeyed the gospel since (Acts 2), has done the same (no exception). Each convert adds one (number) to the Lord’s church. This is the way God planned for it to be from the beginning of time.
When the wrong kind of numbers are added to a local church membership roll it spiritually contaminates that church. The increase is repugnant to God and his word; not only that, but the local church is a party to that one in sin. If not, why not? “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God” (2 Jn. 9). But I hear someone cry out, the elders approved the action and they are to blame and I am not. This just plain is not true. Elders are over the flock to direct the flock according to the word of God (1 Pet. 5:1-3; Heb. 13:17). Local members who follow elders into error are also guilty.
Local churches are accepting as members (numbers), people who have married, divorced, and remarried, when the first marriage was not scripturally resolved. “Whosoever shall put away his wife (husband), except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her (him) which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). “For the woman (man) which hath an husband (wife) is bound by the law (God’s law) to her husband (his wife) so long as he (she) liveth; but if the husband (wife) be dead, she (he) is loosed from the law of her husband (his wife)” (Rom. 7:2).
When a wife or husband leaves the marriage bond to co-habit with another, adultery is committed which breaks the bond of marriage (1 Cor. 6:15-16). This permits the innocent one to divorce and gives permission to scripturally remarry. By scripturally, I mean one who is eligible, according to the word of God, to be married to.
I have read where about fifty percent (50%) of all first marriages result in divorce. The sad and disappointing thing about this is the local church of Christ often is accepting these people without any evidence of repentance. When this is done, God will not accept the person or the church which accepts them while in sin. God requires the church to be kept clean and pure; hence remove from the midst all that work iniquity.
When two individuals marry and later divorce and remarry without fornication (adultery) being the reason, neither party, I repeat, neither one is scripturally free to remarry. Preachers, elders and members, must abide by the New Testament law of Christ regardless of who may be affected and regardless of what people may have to think or say.
Spiritual adultery is a serious problem involving the Lord’s church. Some elders and preachers close their eyes for the sake of numbers by accepting those who have come from liberal churches, sometimes even from denominational churches, without any requirement of doing what the God of heaven requires. To meet and worship with a church which teaches false doctrine and practices unscriptural works is to engage in sin. The sin is not forgiven by just expressing a desire to be a member of some conservative church, The Bible still teaches confession of sin (1 Jn. 1:9), repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22).
Preachers and elders must avoid leaving the idea in one’s mind that just casting one’s lot with a church, by being recognized by request to be another number, is all that God requires.
“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). Based upon the above Scripture, the local church must be kept pure and clean to be a part of that glorious body of Christ. Numbers! Yes, when they are the scriptural kind. Numbers! No, when they are the unscriptural kind. It is later than we think. The judgment is coming, be prepared.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 13, p. 398
July 2, 1992