A Different Type of Institutionalism Among Us Today
(Part Two)
By: Brian A. Yeager

     If you have missed reading the first part of this series of articles, it is imperative that you read that article before proceeding to read further into this article.  In part one of our series we looked for Scriptures that would authorize organizations such as Florida College to train preachers, conduct worship services, or host Bible Lectures.  We looked for Scriptures that would authorize human organizations such as the Guardian of Truth Foundation to conduct worship services or host Bible lectureships.  We even looked for Scriptures that would authorize organizations such as the Akin Foundation to support preachers.  In our search we could not find one single Scripture to authorize any of those organizations to do the works they are conducting.  Any honest Bible student would conclude that these organizations are wrong in what they are doing based upon the lack of biblical authority for those human institutions to function as they are.

     However, some people have never thought to question these things and others have been misled through the instruction of several prominent false teachers within the brotherhood.  The true issues often get confused.  I am not objecting to brethren forming a secular school, I am objecting to brethren forming a school that acts as a para-church organization.  Such is the same with a foundation that is formed to preach, support preachers, or conduct worship services.  So, let us examine these issues further for clarification.
 
 

God Has Designed an Organization in Which Christians Are to Combine Their Resources for Certain Works

     Jesus made a promise to build His church (Matthew 16:18).  In the second chapter of the book of Acts we know that the church was established as the saved were added to her (Acts 2:47).  The church is a collectivity of Christians.  The church in some cases is spoken of in a universal sense of all the saved (cf. Acts 2:47 and Colossians 1:18).  In other cases the church is spoken of as a local body of Christians (I Corinthians 1:2 and I Thessalonians 1:1).

     The church, as a local body, is to assemble together to do things such as partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7).  The church, as a local body, is to perform certain works:

1. Evangelism (I Thessalonians 1:6-8).
2. Edification (Ephesians 4:16).
3. Caring for needy saints (I Corinthians 16:1-3).
The local church is funded to do these works through a collection upon the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-3).  The local church is the only collectivity we find authorized in the New Testament to do the works of evangelism (preaching, supporting a preacher etc.), edification (i.e. worship, etc.), and benevolence.

Further Evidence of God’s Plan in Action

     When evangelism was done through any organized effort in the first century it was not a college, foundation, or any other organization that sent out preachers, organized meeting times, or was reported to.  We find accounts, such as “Paul’s first missionary journey”, wherein the church in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to preach the Gospel as they were instructed through the Holy Spirit: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:1-3).  At the conclusion of this “first journey” note what occurred: “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).

      Additionally, the local church is the only organization that came together to worship God in the New Testament.  In a context dealing with the Lord’s Supper, Paul writes: “…when ye come together in the church…” (I Corinthians 11:18).  The local church is an all-sufficient organization to worship God.

     The local church is also an all-sufficient organization to support preachers.  Paul wrote the following to the brethren in Corinth and then Philippi: “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (II Corinthians 11:8). “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only” (Philippians 4:15).  The only organization supporting preachers with God’s authority is the local church.

     When it comes to training preachers the Lord never instructed Christians to form a human organization to carry out this work.  We find that preachers were trained according to the pattern that Paul wrote to Timothy: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2).  If we believe the Scriptures are our all-sufficient guide, and they are (II Timothy 3:16-17 and II Peter 1:3), we then can know that God never wanted brethren to form organizations to train preachers.  God’s silence is evidence enough!  Men can be trained by other preachers under the oversight of a local church without the formation of any organization.

Are These Organizations Attempting to Offer Worship, Evangelize, Etc.?

     Florida College makes the following statements on their website:

“In addition to daily Bible classes, students attend a daily chapel assembly for a period of devotion and have numerous opportunities each week to participate in additional devotional periods” (http://www.flcoll.edu/spiritual-life/).

“A highlight of the Florida College year, and one of the means by which the College takes the education above the norm and beyond the classroom, is the annual lectureship, a tradition since the College’s beginning.

Each year the Biblical Studies faculty selects a Bible-related theme, plans the program, and invites speakers from across the country and around the world. The lectures offer the Florida College community and a host of visitors to campus excellent studies on the year’s theme; a lecture book collects these studies and extends their availability” (http://www.flcoll.edu/spiritual-life/lectureship.html).

     If you will note in the quotes listed above that Florida College does have a daily worship service.  Florida College does have an annual lectureship wherein they preach their view of the Scriptures.  This is not what we read in the book of Acts and other places within the New Testament.  It was, and always must be, the local church that has such assemblies and works.

     The Guardian of Truth Foundation had its first annual lectureship July 12-15th, 2004 in Bowling Green, KY and they are already advertising for the 2005 lectures to be held July 11th-15th (http://www.truthmagazine.com).  The Guardian of Truth Foundation had singing at the first annual lectureship led by R.J. Stevens.  Dear reader, the Guardian of Truth Foundation organized an assembly to preach their view of the Scriptures, worship, and they are planning to do so again next year.  This organization is basically functioning as a local church, doing two of the three works of a local church.

     The Akin Foundation supports preachers through congregations that appeal to the board (http://www.bibletruths.net/Archives/BTAR221.htm).  When an organization is formed, such as the Akin Foundation, to support Gospel preachers something has occurred that is not written about in the inspired word of God.

Conclusion

   There is only one organization that the Lord desires to do His work.  That organization is the local church.  This article is written in a format of a local bulletin and is limited in size.  There is much more to write on under this subject heading.  In our next article we are going to deal with the question: “Are These Organizations Expediencies for the Individual Works of Christians?”  These issues are important to be studied, understood, and error on these matters must be exposed.  The same basic arguments that divided the church a half century ago over Institutionalism are being reworded and put into action all over again.  “Brethren, we are drifting” (J.D. Tant).
 
 

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