CHRIST WILL REMOVE THE CANDLESTICK
Of that day and hour, and minute WHEN Christ removeth the candlestick from a local “church of Christ” such as the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7), only Christ knoweth (Rev. 3:3). Only Christ knoweth what is in the hearts of all men (Jn. 2:24-25). Man’s jurisdiction does not extend into this realm, hence only Jesus Christ can be the perfect righteous judge of all men (Jas. 4:12) and He only can remove the candlestick. However, even though this is absolutely true, Jesus has set forth in his word many clues as to when he will remove the candlestick. Below are set forth these clues. When a local “church of Christ” does these particular things, at some point after this CHRIST WILL REMOVE THE CANDLESTICK.
A. MINIMIZE GOD’S WISDOM: The Lord’s church is a product of the “manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10-11). It was the eternal purpose of God for the church to be the “fullness of Christ” (Eph. 1:22-23). Since the church is the fullness of the Lord by God’s eternal design and purpose then the purpose or design of it can NOT BE IMPROVED UPON Christ is stated to be the summation of all of God’s wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:1-3). Since the church is the “fullness of Christ” and he is the Divine head of it (Col. 1:18), then the church as the “manifold wisdom of God” is perfect in every aspect. If not, Christ is not perfect either. The church was ordained by God to be the “pillar and ground of the truth,” therefore any effort on man’s part to supplant this Divine organization with a human organization is to minimize the wisdom of God (1 Tim. 3:15). Any effort on the part of men to change its God ordained NAME, WORSHIP, ORGANIZATION, WORK and PURPOSE, is to minimize God’s wisdom.
B. IMMORTALIZE ITS ELDERS: Christ is the “blessed and only Potentate” (1 Tim. 6:15-16) who “ONLY HATH IMMORTALITY.” Because Christ is God and immortal, his word is absolute LAW, but this cannot be said regarding any elder. Christ cannot be wrong, but elders of a local church (Phil. 1:1) can be wrong (1 Tim. 5:20). Since Christ is “the HEAD OF THE CHURCH” (Eph. 5:23), we are to “grow up into him in all things” (Eph. 4:15). The inspired apostle Paul stated in (Acts 20:28-32) that elders were to “feed the flock,” but that sometime elders would arise speaking perverse and false doctrine to draw away disciples after them. Elders are commanded by God to oversee the flock among them “ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD” (1 Pet. 5:1-2 - ASV). This therefore, excludes any elder from making “spiritual laws” and enforcing obedience unto them. If an elder or elders should do this THEY ARE IN REBELLION TO THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. If any local “church of Christ” allows its elders to involve their congregation in work or activities unauthorized by God, they have IMMORTALIZED them and exalted them above Jesus Christ. When elders sin they should be disciplined as Christians. Likewise, gospel preachers should be disciplined. Jesus leaves no room to be partial to elders (1 Tim. 5:17-22).
C. GLAMORIZE ITS PREACHERS: It is not uncommon today to hear “churches of Christ” advertise their preachers in a most glamorous manner. They state “how many degrees the man possesses, the extent of his worldly travels, how much in demand as a public speaker he is, how many youth rallies where he has spoken,” and not one word as to whether or not he will preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and whether or not he speaks “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). Usually, the preacher is MAXIMIZED and Christ is MINIMIZED. But, the apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 that they were just ordinary men by whom people “heard and believed” the gospel. He said, “neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” The “church of God” in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1-2) was in trouble with God because they had exalted and glamorized certain preachers (1 Cor. 1:10-13). Paul said that following after these men whom they had exalted (above Christ) was a sign of their carnality and therefore sin. He included himself in this also. He said in 1 Corinthians 3:21, “let no one glory in men.” Let all “churches of Christ” EXALT THEIR KING JESUS, not any mortal man!
D. AUTHORIZES UNSCRIPTURAL WORK: God makes it very plain in His word in (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-34, 6:1-6, 11:27-30; Rom. 12:13, 15:25-26; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:1, 13), whom the local “church of Christ” can help benevolently, and the ORGANIZATION that is to give the help. Notice, God states in every scripture that the local church of Christ is authorized to help needy saints ONLY, and that the ONLY organization which did this work was the local church of Christ. God has limited the church (1 Tim. 5:16) as to the work which she can do. The local church of Christ cannot do the work which God gave to the individual Christian to perform. Notice in James 1:27 God PLAINLY SAYS that “visiting the father-less and widows in their affliction” is the individual Christian’s responsibility, which if he shirks, makes his religion impure and defiled. No church of Christ has the GOD GIVEN RIGHT to build or maintain a HOME FOR THE AGED such as in Gunter, Texas, sponsored by the Gunter church of Christ. This is an UNSCRIPTURAL WORK FOR THE CHURCH and not sanctioned by God. I will also discuss Galatians 6:1-10 for a moment to show that physical benevolent assistance to all men is NOT WHAT CHRIST IS DISCUSSING. Notice in verse l, that spiritual assistance to help a brother in Christ overcome a fault is exactly what Paul is speaking of. In the verses that follow he says that it is every Christian’s individual responsibility to not only bear his own burden, but to help his brother bear his burdens as well. Definitely, verses 3-8 indicate beyond doubt that God is discussing INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITIES of each Christian. In verse 10, God states that as every individual Christian has an opportunity to assist spiritually through teaching anyone, whether he is of the “household of faith” or is an alien sinner, he should do so. This passage is not an authorization by Christ to allow the church to assist one benevolently or be a “national soup kitchen for the hungry.”
E. SOCIALIZE FELLOWSHIP: “God is a spirit” (Jn. 4:23-24) and if Christians enjoy fellowship with God, it is by doing His spiritual will. Only by “walking in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7) can a Christian have fellowship with God. It is taught in 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 that the Holy Spirit has revealed the spiritual will of God, and what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the New Testament determines totally and completely what fellowship with God is and what it is not (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If you will notice in Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:9; Philippians 1:5; 2:1; 3:10; 1 John 1:3-7; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 10:20; and Ephesians 5:11, that the Holy Spirit uses the word “fellowship” only in a spiritual way, discussing the obedience of Christians to God’s will. Never does the word “fellowship” denote a “getting together” socially and drinking coffee and having donuts or enjoying a common meal. In fact, God condemned the “church of Christ” in Corinth who came together for a common meal (1 Cor. 11:18-22). He told them through Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:34, that common meals should be eaten “at home,” for this is not the “fellowship” that Christians assemble to enjoy with God in worship unto him. If a “church of Christ” uses her money to build a facility which may be called a “fellowship hall” to engage in these activities of self-satisfaction, they sin! We are taught in God’s word to “have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11). For a “church of Christ” to pay the rent for such a facility would be the same. The “kingdom of God is not meat and drink” (Rom. 14:17). Notice very carefully Philippians 3:10-11; in this passage Paul states by the Spirit that when he suffered [“as a Christian” (1 Pet. 4:16)] that he was having “fellowship” with the Lord. It can be plainly seen that having a good time socially is a far cry from God’s true meaning of “fellowship.” No “church of Christ” should get involved in such, nor allow its elders or leaders to authorize such ungodliness. To take one penny from the funds of the local church to promote this evil (called “fellowship” by uninformed Christians), is to “rob God” (Mal. 3:8), which makes for extortion of the money God has authorized for his church to do her work.
F. SUBSIDIZE YOUTH ACTIVITIES: There is an ever increasing trend in some churches of Christ to plan, finance, organize, engage in and oversee YOUTH RALLIES, SUMMER CAMPS, WEEKEND RECREATIONAL TRIPS, BASEBALL TEAMS, BIBLE BOWLS, and other related kinds of activities to build up the physical man. NEVER did any congregation in the New Testament get involved in such. NEITHER does the HOLY SPIRIT in the “gospel of Christ” authorize the church to do this. Every parent that has a child is responsible individually for their child’s exercise and recreation. This is not the kind of food that the elders of the church are to provide for their flock (Acts 20:28). The only kind of exercise which the church is to provide for its young people is the SPIRITUAL KIND, spoken of in 1Timothy 4:8. In Luke 2:49, Jesus said, “Know ye not that I ought to be about my Father’s business?” Do we really believe that Jesus died on the cross to purchase “with his own blood,” an ORGANIZATION called His “body,” to form baseball teams, and have youth rallies, etc.? WHAT DO WE THINK THE FATHERS’ BUSINESS IS??? Where has preaching the gospel gone to on our list of priorities? That is the very purpose for which the church exists (1 Tim. 3:15). Again this constitutes THIEVERY! It is no wonder that Christ will remove the candlestick!
G. EMPHASIZE WEALTH: It is most commonplace today to see “churches of Christ” spend lavish sums of money on a beautiful edifice, with thick carpets, and expensive furniture. They TRUST IN THESE for their drawing power to attract people to the Lord. Jesus said of the “church of Christ” in Laodicea, “because thou sayest I am rich and am in need of nothing” they were in sin (Rev. 3:14). He said they were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind, and naked.” The preaching of the cross is GOD’S DRAWING POWER to bring men to salvation (1 Cor. 1:18-21), not big lavish buildings or material assets. God does not measure the faithfulness of a church by its physical wealth, but rather by its spiritual growth and progress. The Jews were more impressed with the “GOLD of the temple” than they were the temple that sanctified the gold (Matt. 23:17). Many Christians have fallen into this trap.
H. APOSTATISE FROM HOLY SPIRIT’S PATTERN: The New Testament reveals very clearly how gospel preachers should be supported. Notice in Philippians 4:14-16, Paul states that he was sent his “need” directly. The “church of Christ” in Phillipi sent unto him directly his “need” when he was in Macedonia and Thessalonica. Here is the account of the Holy Spirit revealing that God has authorized the local “church of Christ” to send support and financial assistance directly to the preacher. It is a departure from the DIVINE PATTERN for any “church of Christ” to channel its support for a preacher of the truth through ANY OTHER LOCAL CHURCH or ANY TYPE of organization set up by man. God never intended for the “middleman” to exist in his Kingdom. Every organization built by man will “take a slice” of that which they receive before they forward it to the respective preacher for whom it is meant. NEITHER does God give ANY LOCAL “church of Christ” the authority to be a sponsor of another “church of Christ” or sponsor of a preacher. The church sending support to the preacher does not have ANY AUTHORITY over the work being done by the preacher and the congregation where he labors. As Moses was instructed by God in Hebrews 8:5 regarding the tabernacle, LET US DO ALL THINGS ACCORDING, TO THE PATTERN SET FORTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. Many “churches of Christ” are involved in this violation as well as others. If Christ has not already removed their candlestick out of its place, certainly it is sure that he will. If a “church of Christ” does not follow DIVINE AUTHORITY then the light that emanates from their “candlestick” (Matt. 5:14), is not the LIGHT OF GOD’S WORD, but their own.
I. DEMORALIZE STANDARDS OF DECENCY: In Revelation 2:14-16, Christ states his disapproval of the conduct of His church in Pergamos. They had some members who not only involved themselves in gratifying lusts of the flesh through fornication—holding to the doctrine of the Nicolaitains—but the rest tolerated this condition in the church. God was sorely displeased for the light they reflected to those round about them was an “evil” one which would never draw men to salvation. For, those in the church were living in sin, and others did nothing about restoring them. Today if a “church of Christ” does not teach, and uphold God’s principles of modesty (1 Tim. 2:9-12) by their neglect they are demoralizing themselves, and failure to “speak the truth in love” regarding 1 Corinthians 11:14-16 will result in a state of permissiveness where “men cannot be distinguished from the women.” Just failure to teach on these things and ALL OF GOD’S WILL constitutes sin and brings about CHRIST REMOVING THE CANDLESTICK EVENTUALLY. When, I do not know. BUT WHY TAKE THE CHANCE??? May every church of the Lord stress this teaching.
J. UNIONIZE WITH RELIGIONS: Unity can only exist where two or more follow the same standard. And UNITY IN CHRIST can only exist where all men follow the “gospel of Christ” ONLY (Gal. 1:6-9). Christians cannot be united in Christ with anyone who has not become a “Christian” according to God’s true plan of Salvation. GOD SAYS that faith is necessary to please him (Heb. 11:6) and Paul said the source from which we obtain faith is “hearing the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). In addition, Jesus said that everyone must repent or perish (Lk. 13:3; Acts 17:30). Jesus said that “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). JESUS ALSO SAID “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:15-16). When the Jews on Pentecost did all of these things, God added them to the Lord’s church. In Acts 2:36-47, these things can be read and therefore are proven to be true. If a man does not follow this plan, HE IS NOT A CHRISTIAN, and it makes no difference what he may think for GOD SAYS HE IS NOT. There is not a Christian in any organization or denomination of man. God only puts Christians in His church. There is no possibility to have an “International Christians Conference” consisting of members of the “Baptist, Methodist, or Catholic” or any church. It may be true that there are “good people” in all denominations, but there are NO CHRISTIANS in any denomination. For a “church of Christ” to make some kind of “spiritual alliance” with a DENOMINATION OF ANY KIND constitutes infidelity to Christ. A Christian has no such thing as a “brother in prospect.”
K. PARALYZE TRUTHFUL PREACHING AND TEACHING: By the Spirit Paul states in (1 Tim. 4:1-5) that some would depart from the truth and turn aside unto fables (2 Tim. 4:3-4). They would heap to themselves “teachers after their own lusts,” which implies that they would not put up with those who would preach the truth, but would reject and attempt to persecute them and kill them. Instead of wanting to hear the truth that would free them (Jn. 8:32), they gave heed to “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). There are many “churches of Christ” in the United States which would not allow me to preach this series of lessons in their pulpit. Why? Because it shows that their practices and work is contradictory to the scriptures. These lessons would reflect that Christ had already “removed their candlestick” or WAS GETTING READY TO. Jesus states that no man has the right to “teach a different gospel” (1 Tim. 6:3-5; Gal. 1:6-9). Only the SOUND WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST and the doctrine according to godliness. For any “church of Christ” to paralyze the proclamation of truth is to rebel against Christ, which will bring a REMOVAL OF THEIR CANDLESTICK (Rev. 2:16). Again I say that “WHEN” Christ removes a candlestick is in his providence NOT MINE. A “church of Christ” must be sound on every teaching of Christ and God if they want to reflect the glorious light of his eternal word (2 Cor. 4:4).
L. IMMUNIZE THEMSELVES TO LOVE: The church in Ephesus had “left their first love.” As Revelation 2:1-8, shows the church had “tried those who said they were apostles and are not.” They had found them to be false apostles. They indeed waged a valiant fight against Satan and his allies but seemingly this had become an obsession unto them. Their love for God (Matt. 22:37, 38) was not what it ought to be. They evidently did not fight against evil with love in their heart for the victims of sin. According to the New Testament everything must be done with love, for only with proper love for God and the sinner and our brethren will our service be acceptable unto God (1 Cor. 13:4-8). When a “church of Christ” leaves their first love they are in a sad state of affairs and ripe for candlestick removal.
M. MODERNIZE WORSHIP: When the “church of Christ” in Corinth came together into one place (1Cor. 14:23) then the channels of “public worship” which they engaged in were congregational singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:1); partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-30) and free-will offering of the saints (1 Cor. 16:1-2). Also they had gospel preaching (Acts 20:7-10). On Pentecost (Acts 2:42) they continued in “prayers” also. This is WHAT GOD HAS AUTHORIZED IN WORSHIP. But some “churches of Christ” have introduced into their worship unto God MECHANICAL INSTRUMENTS. And some have decided to put on a “puppet show” to excite the children present. It is not uncommon to see in the assembly of the saints in some churches, a little award ceremony where Bibles are given by the church to faithful bus riders. Would this sort of be making God’s house (2 Tim. 3:15) a house of merchandise (Jn. 2:16)? Woe to those who would prostitute the purpose of the church (John 2:16)? Woe to those who would prostitute the purpose for which the church was built (1 Cor. 3:16-17). Some “churches of Christ” have choral groups and choirs to entertain them, while disguising it as “edification according to God’s word.” No NEW TESTAMENT “church of Christ” had a choir, chorus, or orchestra. “Testimonial services” are commonplace-today in many churches. The only testimony that God gives us authority to engage in in worship is that recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5—the testimony of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for the sins of man. No man is smarter than God or as smart, so why pollute God’s worship with “human think—so’s.”
N. PUBLICIZE THEIR IGNORANCE: The “church of God…at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:1-2) stood in danger with God because they had gone to law one against another (1 Cor. 6:1-6). But it was compounded sin because they had done this before the “unbeliever.” A man would never want to become a Christian when he saw the way they treated each other, “without love and compassion or forgiveness.” Indeed this must be-characteristic of each Christian in the Lord's church (Eph. 4:1-3, 32). If Philippians 2:12-16 be true, AND IT IS BEYOND ANY DOUBT, then these Christians in Corinth were failing miserably to be a good example to those around them in the city of Corinth. Even though they were called by God the “church of God…at Corinth,” it is indicated in (2 Cor. 13:10) they would not be for long if they did not repent and be obedient unto GOD.
O. EPITOMIZE INDIFFERENCE: The “church of Christ” in Laodicea was NEITHER “cold nor hot” and God said “I will spew thee out of my mouth.” Would you perceive that he is saying that if they persisted in such a condition he would remove their candlestick? They were just eaten up with “indifference.” They did not care ONE WAY OR THE OTHER whether the church grew or not. Today there are many such “churches of Christ” which are nauseating unto God. They are filled with Christians who could CARE-LESS about daily Bible study, or constant and continuous prayer (2 Tim. 2:15;
1 Thess. 5:17). They could CARE-LESS whether souls are won to Christ or whether the needy saints are cared for as they should be by the church (Matt. 9:37-38; 1 Jn. 3:17-18). In fact, they are CARE-LESS about the way they act (1 Pet. 2:12) and think (Phil. 4:8). The meaning and use of “hospitality” is GREEK to them (1 Pet. 4:8-9). Since CARE-LESS-NESS is their trademark they think nothing about “giving their buck” grudgingly and complain about the “progress of the church.” Indeed, Christ will remove that candlestick as he stated to the church in Laodicea he would do unto them.
P. CUSTOMIZE SUBJECTION: All of us know what it means to “customize” a car. We modify and change it from something original to our ideas and concepts. Many “churches of Christ” have done this when it comes to “the realm of subjection.” Notice the words of the Lord regarding this (1 Cor. 11:3). Man is always in “subjection to Christ.” Woman is to be in “subjection to man” always as “also saith the law” (1 Cor. 14:34; Gen. 3:16). God has not given his permission, nor granted authority to “any woman” to teach or usurp authority over men. Notice in 1 Corinthians14:33-34 that even though “spiritual gifts” have ceased long ago, these principles still hold true. God says “as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor.14:33) “let your women keep silence in the church, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but to be in subjection as also saith the law” (v. 34). Even though the Bible plainly says this many “churches of Christ” have WOMEN TEACHING OVER MEN, WOMEN LEADING IN PUBLIC PRAYERS IN THE ASSEMBLY WHEN MEN ARE PRESENT, and this has lead churches to put women in the pulpit, which God strictly forbids. Let all men in the church remain in subjection unto Christ IN EVERYTHING. Let all women in Christ be content with the role of “being in subjection unto their own husbands” and unto Christ most of all. Women can teach (Tit. 2:3-5) within the realm of this limitation. Women can teach also within the realm of this limitation (Acts 18:26). Women can be great servants in the church of our Lord (Rom. 16:1-6) as Phoebe and others such as Mary (v.6), and are deserving of our utmost respect and gratitude. But WOMEN PREACHERS God does not approve in his word. Let us never customize God’s laws of subjection (1 Tim. 2:12).
Q. ENERGIZE THE MIRACULOUS: Many “churches of Christ” claim and teach that there has been a revival by God of “CHARISMATIC POWERS AND GIFTS.” They would have to “raise the apostles from the dead” in order to HAVE “SPIRITUAL GIFTS” For it was through the “laying on of the apostle’s hands” (Acts 8:18) that this power was imparted unto other Christians. Philip himself, though a Christian and one of the seven chosen in (Acts 6:5) who was FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, could not impart the miraculous gifts to the Samaritans. They sent unto Jerusalem unto the apostles to accomplish this. All of the apostles are dead and have been so for nearly 2,000 years and TONGUES HAVE CEASED, KNOWLEDGE HAS VANISHED AWAY, AND PROPHECIES HAVE FAILED (1 Cor. 13:9). But Paul said 1 Corinthians 12:7-1 that the “spiritual gifts” would last until “that which is perfect is come” (1 Cor. 13:8). Since the will of God came in bits and pieces, when God had completely given unto the apostles “all truth” (Jn. 16:13) then God’s message would be completed unto man and perfect it would be in its teaching (2 Tim. 3:16-17). When any man would look into the “perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25), and would continue therein, he would be blessed by God with “eternal life.” This complete and perfect REVELATION was recorded by “HOLY MEN OF GOD” (2 Pet. 1:21) “as they were moved” by the Holy Spirit, hence no human error occurred in its being recorded. Jesus said the miracles recorded in his perfect gospel (Jn. 20:30-31) were WRITTEN to produce faith in the heart of men that JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD. If there has been a revival of the Charismatic powers of the Holy Spirit then we could witness miracles today such as were done by Christ and his apostles. If not, why not? Isn’t it the same Holy Spirit? Isn’t his power still as great now as it was in the infancy of the church? Certainly it is, but God does not exercise his power now through miracles but rather all of god’s power is compacted into the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16-17) which is his power to save mankind. But, if God today still works MIRACLES then we ought to witness those who claim to be his servants raise the dead, walk on water, feed multitudes with five loaves and two fishes, heal those blind from birth, and restore instantaneously members of the body which have been decapitated. In Acts 13:8-12, Paul by the power of the Holy Spirit, struck Elymas blind for a season because he opposed the “power of God” and withstood the preaching of the truth. Why doesn’t one of these men like Oral Roberts, Vic Coburn, Lester Sumrall, or Ben Franklin exercise the “spiritual powers” God works through them (at least this is what they say) and cause me or others who oppose miracles today to go blind for a season? I can tell you why! Because the power they exercise are not of God, but of “Beelzebub” (Matt. 12:24). Because they have been seduced by the “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1) they are working HIS (the Devil’s) lying signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9-12). They are filled with all deceit of unrighteousness and will perish because they believe not the truth. It only takes the “gospel of Christ” to teach a man what to do to become a child of God and have his sins forgiven. It only takes the “gospel of Christ” to teach a new born babe in Christ how to grow daily unto salvation (1 Pet. 2:2). Miracles have no bearing on our salvation today. The New Testament miracles are true, and real, and genuine MIRACLES and they produce faith in the heart of a man, when he is willing to read the gospel for himself. God does not teach in his word that I must be in excellent health to serve him acceptably (2 Cor. 12:7-9). The Holy Spirit has confirmed the word of the apostles and prophets by wonders, signs, and miracles (Heb. 2:3-4) and this confirmation took place nearly 2000 years ago. We have no need for MIRACLES today, for we have the gospel of Christ and it is the “more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31) than the “spiritual gifts” mentioned in (1 Cor. 12:28-30). Any “church of Christ” that energizes the MIRACULOUS is in Sin and rebellion to God and His divine word.
R. CENTRALIZE OVERSIGHT OF CHURCHES: In (1 Pet. 5:1-4) God states very plainly that Elders were overseers of the flock among them. This limits the oversight of one church to its own work only. Each church must preach and teach the gospel, to the extent of its own ability. The “church of Christ” in Thessalonica realized this as is shown in (1 Thess. 1:1, 8). God has not authorized ANY LOCAL CHURCH to oversee, or control the WORK or MONEY of another LOCAL CHURCH. Any “church of Christ” that does this is usurping the authority of Christ. This certainly means that the “church of Christ” who begs and drains other (perhaps smaller or larger) churches of their funds to preach the gospel is EITHER MISSING A CANDLESTICK, or will eventually have their candlestick removed by Christ. It is certainly tragic to see a group of men who say they love God, and claim to be walking in the light of his word, and who occupy the responsibility of Elder) to plan a “WORLD-WIDE” program of evangelism, which they cannot fund themselves. But for the glory thereof, they ask hundreds and thousands of other “churches of Christ” to disobey God and send them their funds and they will oversee and sponsor this great undertaking. NEVER do we read about a “church of Christ” in the New Testament doing this. Prayerfully we hope that the Elders of the Highland church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, will come to the knowledge of their error against God and repent. Many large churches are overseeing the work of many smaller ones and THIS IS SINFUL AND DISRESPECTFUL unto God who gave us the perfect plan of autonomy. Under God’s plan, if one church should go astray, it will not pull others with it into error, for it is not tied to another. Under man’s system, if the “headquarters church” or “sponsoring church” goes astray, those churches connected to it will also follow into error, of the so-called SPONSORING CHURCH. The Elders of the church in Jerusalem did not take charge of distribution to needy saints in the churches of Judea (Acts 11:30). But the Elders in each respective congregation were responsible for distribution to their own needy saints (1 Thess. 2:14). No church in the New Testament was ever a “sponsoring church” nor did they become a “headquarters church.” Every “church of Christ” today must be autonomous, as they were in the New Testament. Any local “church of Christ” which-violates God’s law stands condemned by God’s word. Surely no Christian would want to worship in such a church that is flagrantly and openly defying Christ. The “doctrines of demons” will not glorify Christ but the Devil, from whence they originate.
S. UTILIZE THE LORD’S MONEY FALSELY: In Acts 5:1-5, it is plain to see that when a Christian will “lay by him in store” that this money is NOT HIS ANYMORE, but is sanctified for the service and purpose of God. For any Christian or church to utilize this free-will offering (2 Cor. 9:7) for any purpose other than what God hath said it is to be used for constitutes DISOBEDIENCE to God. For example, suppose a local “church of Christ” decides that they think it would be a GOOD WORK to build an “unwed mother’s home” with its funds. Can a “church of Christ” do this and be found pleasing unto God? Again we appeal to the SCRIPTURES. In 1 Timothy 5:16 Paul says NO! “Let not the church be charged” is the cry of the inspired apostle Paul. No New Testament church ever did this; NEITHER does God give His church authority to do so. Caring for the needs of anyone THAT IS NOT A CHRISTIAN is an individual task for every Christian (Jas. 1:2ff). If the church has authority to build an “unwed mother’s home” by the same passage they could build an “unwed father’s home.” To argue otherwise would be the height of inconsistency. BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS: neither one is the work of the church. The same holds true with orphans or the fatherless (Jas. 1:27) this is ONLY the work of individual Christians and for the Lord’s church in any locality to endeavor to support them from the treasury of the church, would be contrary to God’s law. They would be guilty of “iniquity” or “lawlessness.” God states the eternal fate of those who “work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23). When can the Lord’s church from its treasury provide care for an orphan?—only when that person is a “needy saint” (Rom 15:25-26, 12:13)! And the Lord’s church in each locality is to perform its’ own the benevolence. They are not authorized to send money or support to a human benevolent organization to see that the “needy saint” is cared for. In reality God’s way is far better than man’s concepts of how to provide benevolence, for God’s way provides personal contact and spiritual growth, on the part of both the one being assisted, and the one doing the assisting.
T. INSTITUTIONALIZE SPIRITUAL EDUCATION: In Ephesians 4:16 God teaches that the “church of the Lord” is sufficient to increase itself and edify and build up itself in love. The church of our Lord is the only organization which God equipped to furnish spiritual education to its members. When the church in the New Testament was in its infancy stage, God gave “spiritual gifts” whereby the church was edified and built up (Cor. 12:7-11; Rom. 1:11). God gave these gifts to no other organization; neither could they be obtained through another organization or institution. When “spiritual gifts” ceased (1Cor. 13:8-10), God gave the church His completed and perfect “revelation.” The church is equipped with every necessary edification tool to enable the church to build up itself in love. Notice in Ephesians 4:11 that God gave “some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” And he gave these gifts to the church “for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting of the saints,” and for the “building up of the body of Christ” (v. 12). These responsible, but important gifts cannot be found in any other organization except the Lord’s church. Again it is interesting to note that the Lord’s church never needed or ever used any organization to accomplish the teaching of its member’s spiritual truths of God’s word. Just as individual parents in the Old Testament were to teach their children about God and his requirements of them (Deut. 6:6-9), so also are parents today in the Lord’s church to feed their children “spiritual food” all during their childhood (2 Tim. 3:15). If parents will do this as individual Christians and this teaching is coupled with the edification and education the local “church of Christ” furnishes of which they are members, then young people can and will be fit as servants of God. The church is equipped, furnished, and charged by God to “edify itself.” From within the ranks of the church all Elders, and Deacons, and Evangelists, and Teachers should come. The church is commissioned by God to produce them. This the church can do without the aid of any human organization or institution. No human organization-should think itself capable of supplanting the Lord’s body.
CONCLUSION: With much love in my heart for God’s people everywhere, and affection for all sinners who are “without God” and hope in the world, I submit this series of thoughts. It is my prayer that all “Christians” would unite together in Christ on the basis of the “gospel of Christ” which is the truth (Jn. 17:17). Let us relentlessly strive to keep the Lord’s church where we are attending faithful to Christ and obedient unto His words. The beginning place must be with my own self. Let us ever move forward with the “shield of faith” in our hand and the “sword of the Spirit” in our hearts and lives to win precious souls to Christ. And above all else, let our love for God and his Son and his word and his Kingdom motivate every activity we undertake. Finally, let our goal to reach heaven be surpassed by none other. No man can “serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).