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Vol.I No.VII Pg.6
July 1964

Why Send For Peter?

Robert F. Turner

An angel appeared unto a man named Cornelius. This devout, God-fearing, alms-giving man was praying to God -- as was his custom -- when an angel of God appeared to him in a vision. (You can read it for yourself -- Acts 10)

According to popular conceptions this could mean hallucinations, latter-day revelations, or special divine appointment. An even greater number would say this proved that Cornelius was saved from his sins -- had experienced a "work of grace." I have heard of people "voted into the church" on far less evidence. But the angel was none of these things to Cornelius.

The angel told Cornelius to send for Peter, who shall "tell thee what thou oughtest to do;" or "tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved." (See Acts 11:13-f.)

Prayers, alms, and devoutness not- withstanding, this man still needed to be saved. Christianity is far more than good citizenship, moral upright- ness, or even respect for God. A Christian has all of this, and more; but these things are found among many who have not yet become followers of Jesus Christ and hence have neither salvation from past sins nor hope for Heaven. This lesson is especially needed by those who have placed their hope for Heaven in the "Great Architect" and welfare work of a lodge.

But why send for Peter? Could not the angel tell Cornelius all he needed to know? Or the Holy Spirit -- did not this miraculous out-pouring do all that should be done for him? When Peter began to speak (11:15) the Holy Spirit was indeed poured out upon these Gentiles --- a marvelous thing for Peter and those Jews with him to behold. Until recently they had thought the gospel was for Jews only. (See 10:9-16, 25-29; 11:1-4) It took this demonstration of divine acceptance (as subjects of the gospel) to convince the Jews that the gospel was for all nations. (10:44-f.11:15-f)

But now that they were proven proper subjects of the gospel, there remained the task of preaching: to them, and urging those who would to obey. People must be taught of God; so they may hearlearn and come. (Jn. 6:45) We draw nigh to God through the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:17-f.)

What the angel or Holy Spirit could do was hedged about by divine regulations. God had placed His truth in "earthen vessels" (2 Cor. 4:7) that its divine origin might be the more apparent. It was not His will then or now that heavenly messengers deliver the story of salvation to the world. It was "once for all" delivered to inspired men, and through them to the written form in which we now find it. (Jude 3, Eph. 3:1-f. 2 Pet. 1:14-f.)

Peter did exactly what God intended he should do. the preached the good news of Christ to Cornelius and his household, and baptized those who gladly received the word. Note, He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." (Acts 10:48)

Cornelius was not saved -- was not a Christian -- until he heard, believed and obeyed the gospel of Christ.

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Vol.I No.VII Pg.7
July 1964

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Please explain 1 Cor. 4:4 -- especially the first part. A friend tells me "by" means "against" here.


I must agree with your friend as to the meaning of the passage, but it is an over-simplification to say that "by means against."

"I know nothing by myself" was a phrase of common English usage many years ago. An early version of the Common Prayer Book has, "He that setteth not by himself' --- meaning, "is not wise in his own conceit."

The Revised Version uses the word "against" to correctly convey the meaning of the passage --- as is seen by carefully comparing context. Paul is saying that even though (for sake of the argument) he knew nothing against himself, still it is the Lord who must be the judge. 

Other Word Studies

The phrase "rest with us" (2 Thes. 1:7) is often interpreted as though "rest" was a verb. But here it is a noun -- it is something God will "recompense" to "you who are troubled;" just as "tribulation" is something God will recompense to "them that trouble you." Now reread the passage.

"Shamefacedness" (L Tim. 2:9) is changed in R.V. to "shamefastness," with the "fast" meaning "bound" as in "bed-fast." One who is bed-fast has a physical condition which binds him to the bed; and here Paul advocates a sense of propriety or·modesty which would "bind" a woman, and keep her from dressing in a way unbecoming to a "woman professing godliness." Watch for future article on this subject.

Bro. Turner:

I am told that all in the Galatian letter must apply to church action because the letter is addressed to the church. Please comment.


Look again! It is addressed to the churches (plural). Then according to your informer, contents must be applied only to churches, and could not apply to one church. Of course the whole premise is completely false.

I address this note to you. Could not I write to you relative to church work? Paul addressed the church in Corinth, but wrote concerning brother going to law with brother. (6:1-f.)

Church action is collective action and is clearly distinguished from individual action. (Note 1 Tim. 5:16) To determine what applies to church action we must determine what God teaches brethren to do, acting collectively; as seen in precept, approved example, and necessary inference.

Thus, proper application of any given passage must be determined by its context. Paul could, and did, address churches, sending them information regarding certain obligations of individual members. (1 Thes. 4:11-12) The Galatian letter is replete with precepts which apply to individual obligation (5:2, 19-f. 6:1-10, 13, etc) and no false rule of interpretation concerning "address" can change this.

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Vol.I No.VII Pg.8
July 1964

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Discussing some moral problem in a certain church, editor Reuel Lemmons writes, "Since the encounter the eldership, while agreeing to the inadvisability of fellow elder's action, are urging that the thing be swept under the rug. It isn't the error of the brother's position at all that seems to count; it is the stink that has arisen over it!" (FF: 6-16-64)

This "keep it quiet -- don't rock the boat" attitude is responsible for much condoning of sin. Further, it is responsible for -- or the result of-- a :"mediocrity" which steadily lowers Christian standards to the "level"(?) of human acceptance. It destroys genuine whole-hearted submission to the divine will, making it contingent upon the winds of human favor.

Repeatedly some brother will acknowledge that error is taught and/or practiced in his home congregation, but he refuses to seek correction because, "It would be wrong to cause trouble." What kind of reasoning is this? The trouble is already there!!

It is possible that in seeking to correct error tempers will flare and things will be said and done that are wrong. Such sins of the flesh are soul-damning, and we must "repent or perish."

But the acceptance and condoning of things we know to be contrary to God's will is PRESUMPTUOUS SIN-willful, premeditated rebellion; upon which God has pronounced certain condemnation. (Num. 15:30-f. Jas.2:10-f.)

Nor am I blood-thirsty. I appreciate and share the desire for tranquility; and realize that peace is some- times shattered by public airings of irresponsible opinions. But it is spiritual suicide to tolerate error because we fear the struggle necessary to remove it.

When Premillennialism threatened to sweep the church some counciled: "Don't make a fuss about it; what will our religious neighbors think?" Some characterized bro. Foy Wallace's battle with the theorists as, "hanging out our dirty linen for all to see." This is worldly pride-- thinking more of the praises of men than of God. Thank God, bro. Wallace did not hesitate to fight error among his brethren .

What wind chills our blood, that

we now -- GO TO HELL, QUIETLY!?

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.1
August 1964

The Challenge Of Truth

Robert F. Turner

There is challenge in TRUTH. Towering, majestic and awesome, it beckons the climber. Great and wonderful, clothed in mysteries, it threatens and promises. Benevolently reaching to the world, it summons all; yet sternly holds aloft its' crown, to challenge each who comes.

Below, in railed and graded trails move masses. Camera-clicking tourists, worn by travel; scarce grasp their guide's trained words, and far less understand the magic scene. And as the way grows steeper, more and more are faint, and wander aimlessly-- adrift in parks and glades of theory, with their creeds.

Content to pay lip service to the fountainhead above, they sip its waters, grimace, and add sweets or bitters to their taste. "It's wonderful," they say. "We must organize a party and bring others to this way." So they sip, and talk; they praise with shallow phrase, then pause to rest, and resting, sleep.

Still TRUTH-- glorious, wondrous, whole truth, wreathes its head with hoary clouds and calls with voice of thunder: Onward! Upward ! Excelsior! Error shouts derision, and stops the ear. With arrogance he hides his wounds and walks another way. Tradition, richly garbed and stiff with age, dares not attempt the rugged path. And weaklings, fearing to look heavenward, support a course that others plan, and wish themselves in better clime.

But faith responds, and in the earnest seeker whets desire. He dares look up. Toiling, sweating, step by step, he climbs. Struggling across downed timbers on the slope, he pushes upward. Pressing through the brush slipping with the shale, he moves onward. Onward, upward, higher and higher, his lungs afire, .he climbs with foot, and hand; with heart, and soul.

For TRUTH he lives and, if needs be, dies. He asks no quarter, hears no scorn. His hope is fastened on this goal, whose misty drapery sometimes part and to his raptured eyes reveal its sun swept crest.

He needs no other prize than this for here men humbly walk with God.

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.2
August 1964


Robert F. Turner

- - -



Elsewhere in this issue we beg non-members to excuse us while we address ourselves particularly to our brethren. We discuss the results of some erroneous conceptions -- the logical end to which false principles lead.

We realize that many brethren in Burnet, and elsewhere, do not favor these extremes -- now. Currently, the greatest errors of many are: (1) to accept the faulty principles upon which future extremes are built; (2) show a "party" sectarian spirit in refusing to fairly study these matters.

And to members and non-members we stress this point: the true church of Christ is made up of people who look to the word of God, rather than to fellow-members, for their rule of faith and practice. (2 Cor. 10:12-f.)


Sometimes I jokingly refer to the papers I receive (many from folk with whom I differ) as "propaganda." (I send information, but I receiveonly propaganda - isn't that strange?)

But I have never refused to consider the other fellow's material, and to "search the scriptures," testing the same. (Acts 17:11) An idea may be so glaringly false as to re- quire little effort to refute; but it must be refuted by God's word, not by its failure to conform to my previous notions. It is unthinkable to refuse the other man his right to be heard, and fairly examined. BY SUCH tactics we acknowledge our own weakness. Dr. Tom Dooley aptly described "propaganda" in his book, "Deliver Us From Evil" (p. 64) saying: "To be efficacious propaganda must be onesided. Those exposed to its fiery tongue must never be allowed to hear any other tongue."

On that basis, those urging you to refuse PLAIN TALK may be the "propagandist." Had you thought of that?


Sometime in their "teens" our boys and girls attempt the difficult adjustment to freedom. They are "tired of being told what to do." They want to make their own decisions. Well, I'll buy that!

But freedom is not without obligation. Thank God for the young men and women who WANT to begin a decent life "on their own: It to honor their parents, to earn a living, to accept the responsibilities of maturity. Can we not "want to do right" on our own.

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.3
August 1964

The Magpie And The "Best Nest"

Robert F. Turner

An ancient fable has it that the magpie is the best nest-builder among all the birds. And, according to the story, once-upon-a-time all the birds gathered about the magpie to learn her technique.

"First, we find a nice sheltered spot," said the magpie. At this point the eagle flew away crying, "I know, I know!"

"Wait!" shouted the magpie. "There is much more." But the eagle was out of hearing, and henceforth made its nest in a sheltered crag among the rocks, thinking this the ultimate.

"Next, we interlace some sticks to form a pocket," said the magpie. At this the crow flew away cawing, "I know, I know!"

"There is more-- much more!" cried the magpie; but the crow was gone, to build her nest of sticks, and brag that it was the finest of all nests.

And so it went. Each bird was content with only part of the instructions, and flew away before the full story, with its relation of parts, could be told. According to the story the magpie is still the only bird that builds a perfect nest.

Think of this fable and its moral, the next time you hear some preacher say salvation is by faith ONLY. While it is true that the N. T. says we are saved by faith; it also says we are saved by HOPE. (Rom. 8:24) But we fly away with partial instructions when we conclude salvation is by "faith only" or "hope only".

A good concordance will show you there are many elements in salvation. We are saved by GRACE (Titus 2:11) HOPE (Rom. 8:24) FAITH (Lu.8:12) WORD (Jas.l:21) BAPTISM (1 Pet.3:21) GOSPEL (1 Cor.15:2) and "more, much more." Of course CHRIST saves us, (Jn. 4:42) but there is a sense in which we SAVE OURSE LVES. (Acts 2:40) We are saved by the BLOOD, WORKS, LOVE OF THE TRUTH, and CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD; and that without contradiction or conflict. All are related in God's one great scheme of redemption. To illustrate this inter-relation, read the following carefully:

Merciful God sent His Son to shed His blood, and by His Holy Spirit revealed His truth, that all who will hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized, may thus put on Christ, being sanctified (set apart) (added to His church): and being faithful until death, may have a home in heaven.

This is not set forth as the whole of God's plan, nor do I seek to put the PLAN before the MAN. We must not fall into the error of the Pharisees, by accepting one command or part of truth to the exclusion of others. We must seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

There are great foundation truths, generic in their nature, which embrace and include particular truths; just as the necessity for obedience (Heb. 5:9) makes the thing commanded necessary. (Acts 2:38) And he is a foolish "bird" indeed who changes or ignores any instructions from the builder of earth and heaven.

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.4
August 1964

Brethren, How Far Will You Go?

Robert F. Turner

A Memphis, Tenn., church of Christ has built an $18,000. camper's lodge, to be followed by a fishing lake and swimming pool. It's just one example of church support of social "fellowship" (erroneously called "Christian fellowship") --- which started with church-built kitchens and church-supported banquets.

A Lubbock, Tex., church of Christ recently completed a $70,000. home for unwed mothers. Just one example of church support for general welfare programs --- which shifted into high gear when brethren began to argue "no difference in individual Christian and organized church obligations."

Another Lubbock church appointed herself director and conductor of the CAMPAICS~S FOR CHRIST, an arrangement whereby personal-work campaigns will be conducted for "the brotherhood." Well, "we" have societies or "arrangements" for "brotherhood" preaching, advertising, orphan care, tract distribution, money raising, tent meetings, and radio-station-building; and one church offers to serve as coordinator and advisor for other sponsoring churches. It seems a little cool for some to draw the line on the "brotherhood" personal-work service.

Inter - congregational activities received the green light when brethren began to contend there was no difference in sending alms to a poverty-stricken church, and in pooling funds under one eldership for a "brotherhood project." Think it over.

And now bro. Batsell Barrett Baxter, backed by a large church in Nashville, Tenn., has published an appeal for churches to support, from their treasuries, "our" colleges. He says: "If it is a good work and God wants it done, then the church can support it out of its treasury. It is in this line of thinking that I urge the elders of the church to contribute to the ongoing of the Christian schools in order that the God-given obligation to train our young people may be discharged.

I might also add the observation that if the individual Christian should give to make such schools possible, the church has the same responsibility, for it is a good work and the church is the people."

Does this sound familiar? Well, it should. It is the same fallacious reasoning that has given us "brotherhood" projects of medical clinics, Orphan care, "Cows for Korea", church camps, etc. Can anyone deny it??

BRETHREN, HOW FAR WILL YOU GO? IF You accept the erroneous principles that allow the first steps, on what basis can you deny the second, third, and fourth steps?

We who oppose these innovations are called "Anti"-- if not worse; and are accused of being against orphan care, education, "cooperation", helping needy non-members, etc. These are false charges. We simply insist upon GOD'S WORK IN GOD'S WAY-- keeping the congregation independent and separate, doing only what God has authorized each to do; with individual Christian obligations discharged by individual Christians.

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.5
August 1964

Use Your Bible ......

Robert F. Turner


True Christians are committed to the principle that Christ is their king, and that their worship and service to Him must be authorized in His word. They believe they have no right to "speak where He has not spoken" (GOD'S WORK IN GOD'S WAY) hence, seek to answer religious questions by citing divine will.

We are not under the Old Testament (2 Cor.3:11-18) nor is our worship determined by figurative descriptions of heaven (Rev. 14:2); so David's harp and heavenly "voices" have no bearing upon our subject. We are concerned with New Testament authority for music in worship, and here present all passages that deal with this subject. Perhaps you can decide why we sing and do not play.

Matt. 26:30 "when they had sung a hymn" Mark 14:26 "when they had sung a hymn" Acts 16:25 "prayed, and sang praises unto God" Rom. 15:9 "confess to thee ++ and sing unto thy name" 1 Cor. 14:15 "Sing with the spirit, and ++ understanding" Eph. 5:19 "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns,

and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Col. 3:16 "teaching and admonishing one another in

psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Heb. 2:12 "in the midst of the church will I sing" Jas. 5:13 "Is any merry? let him sing psalms" 

To avoid the force of these passages some appeal to PSALLO, the Greek word translated "sing" ("making melody" Eph.5:19) because in earlier Greek it meant to "pluck, twang, as the strings of a harp, or carpenter's chalk line." But its N. T. meaning was "sing" as the translators testify. Further, if it does mean "play a harp" ALL worshipers would have to do so in order to obey these commands. No "psalloing" would be acceptable without the instrument.

Appeals to popularity, love of the arts church traditions, etc., fall far short of providing divine authority for instrumental music in the worship. Secular history points to 666 A.D. as the date for the first use of mechanical music in worship by church authority-- and that is far from God's way.

Our plea, with reference to mechanical music in worship, is exactly like that for congregational independence and recognition of the work of the church. We believe divine authority is established by precept, approved example, and necessary inference. The only safe course is within these bounds.

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.6
August 1964

What "We" Needed In 1900

Robert F. Turner

Between 1889 and 1900 Bro. F.D. Srygley studied and wrote extensively on the undenominational character of the church. His editorials in the GOSPEL ADVOCATE made repeated attacks upon the Baptist, Methodist, etc.; but he was no less concerned about the sectarian spirit he saw in "our" brethren.

Believing that what bro. Srygley's liberal brethren needed then, "we" need today, PLAIN TALK reprints these excerpts from earlier battles.-rft


"This whole business of "we" "us" "our brethren" "our people" "our movement" "our position" "our doctrine" "our cause" "our reformation" "our schools" "our papers" "our colleges" "our song books" "our Sunday schools" "our churches" "our preachers" "our publishing houses" "our books" " our tracts" "our Sunday-school supplies" etc., means simply a religious denomination, as clearly defined and as dully equipped with denominational machinery unknown in the New Testament as the Baptist denomination or le iother religious sect." ++++++++++

"Those who propose to restore the N.T. order in religious work and worship should get a clear idea as to what that order is.

There are in the N.T. three things --viz.: (1) Individual Christians. (2) Local congregations of Christians called "churches of Christ." (3) The whole body of Christians, which is the church, or body, of Christ; and of which every Christian is a member. There is nothing else in the N. T. to restore. Whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil, and leads to something worse. The way to restore the N.T. order as to individual Christians is to preach and practice exactly what the N.T. teaches by precept and example as to how. a man is made a Christian and how God requires him to live as a Christian.

The way to restore the N.T. order as to congregations of Christians, called "churches of Christ," is to preach. and practice exactly what the N.T. teaches by precept and example as to what it takes to constitute a worshipping assembly, called a "church of Christ," and how God requires such a congregation to conduct itself in all matters of religious work and worship.

The way to restore the N.T. order as to the body of Christ, which is the church in a general sense, and of which every Christian is a member, is to preach and practice exactly what the N. T. teaches by precept and example against all denominations or religious parties which do not include and consist of all Christians.

When individual Christians and congregations of Christians follow the plain teaching of the N.T., and withdraw themselves from all denominational federations and partisan brotherhoods and sisterhoods in religion, the whole denominational fabric and institutional system will fall to pieces for the lack of a sectarian constituency. This will restore the New Testament order."

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.7
August 1964

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

When one is born of water and the Spirit, is he, at the same time, born of God? M.J.



"Born of" is used in the Bible primarily with reference to the "begetting," the planting of seed, perhaps because of the greater importance attached to male lineage. Figuratively, it may refer to attitudes, influences, or elements involved in "fathering" a result or course of action. It is also used (more rarely) in reference to the mother, or elements from which the product is delivered. (1 Jn. 3:9 Jas. 1:19 Jn. 8:38-f. Gal. 4:24-f.)

One is born of water and Spirit by receiving and obeying the word (seed) of God; hence these expressions may refer to the sane "coming forth". We should not, however, limit so rich a figure to some simple overt act.

Bro. Turner:

What-is the meaning of "lords over God's heritage"-1 Pet. 5:3?


God's heritage is, of course the local church of which the elders under consideration are shepherds. (See R.V.: "neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you")

The original language means "lord against" and carries the idea of oppression, of using the rights of a lord to bring down others that self might be exalted.

The same word is used in Mk.10:42 and Matt. 20:25 where Jesus says the Gentile rulers "exercise lordship over them" "dominion over"; and Jesus says "it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." (Matt. 20:26) 1 Pet. 5:3 does not deny that the elders (bishops) "rule" (i.e., take the lead of; 1 Thes.5:12) but it forbids hostile rule or lordship, as exemplified in Mk.10: Matt.20:, above.


Would you care to comment on the enclosed? (a church bulletin with mimeographed copy of a F.F. editorial)


Different people have differing reasons for writing, or reproducing such material. Significantly, I have seen no reproduction of fine editorials on "Church Action vs Individual Action"; "Learning From Sad Experience" (re. "intercongregationa1 committees and 'boards' of various kinds" rft) and such like, from same paper.

But inflammatory matter gets special attention. The time and space may better have been spent studying the actual issues involved, and making an effort to produce scriptures for one's practices. Perhaps then the efforts of some to stem the tide of transgression would be better understood, and more kindly treated.

This is not to question direct and forceful attack upon what one holds to be error. We invite constructive scriptural criticism-- our invitation for Bible study stands unanswered.

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Vol.I No.VIII Pg.8
August 1964

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

The fat is in the sun-- and, we may add, "in the fire" for all who question the various stages of undress seen in the stores and on the streets these days. The more angular and misshapen the woman, or the more knobby-kneed the man, the less propriety and modesty is shown it seems. And no one blushes!

Jeremiah prophesied against Jerusalem saying, "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush..." (Jer. 6:15a)

They could not blush. It is a terrible thing when a people can no longer blush. It means there is no sense of shame -- the conscience is seared. They have so lowered their standards that "abominations" appear acceptable. Self-respect has been destroyed-- and there is no personal pride to urge them to better, higher, more noble attainments. Their moral "slip shows" and they "couldn't care less."

Further, they frequently compound their degradation by a blaze smugness, as though their callused hearts were marks of high honor. He who blushes, (should one remain) is a "square," or maybe a "cube" -- like me. Once my wife and I visited a woman whose attire was almost non-existent. We were so embarrassed for her that we sought to excuse ourselves; but apparently she thought her clothing (?) perfectly adequate. She sat, chatting gaily, until her three-year-old, wearing training panties, walked into the room. Then she rushed the child away with a "spat!" saying, "You know better than to come in here undressed like that!" I suppose psychology has some explanation for it.

Paul commends "shamefastness"-- a word meaning "bound, or controlled by a sense of shame--modesty." As a bedfast person is "bound" to the bed by physical disability, so a shame-fast person has a built-in sense of right or propriety that "binds" and forbids appearing in public carelessly or improperly clothed. (1 Tim. 2:8-10)

When a friend of mine commented on the gross immodesty that prevailed in a western resort city, he was told: "After-a-while you'll get used to it." My friend replied that he hoped not.

"Getting used to" something that degrades character and lowers moral standards is no inducement to one who can still blush, and is proud of it.

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.1
September 1964

To The "Pious In Error"

Robert F. Turner

Several years ago a San Antonio preacher wrote an article comparing the "pious in error" with those who "do nothing." He favored the former.

And more recently I received a proposition for debate, reading: "Doing the right thing in the wrong way is no greater sin than doing the wrong thing in the right way." In both cases, we are offered nothing more than a choice of sins; and if that isn't disturbing enough, both cases remind us of the low spiritual level to which we have fallen.

What has become of those pious in that which is right; and anxious to do the right thing in the right way?? Are we so lacking in convictions, so befuddled by "comparative" religions and "compromising" positions that the ideal of Christian perfection is lost to our view? Where is the man who believes that God's word is truth; (Jn. 17:17) who honestly seeks this truth; (Acts 17:11) and who stands firmly for every bit of truth he can comprehend? (Jas. 1:5-8) We know of one elderly preacher whose convictions were flatly challenged and who had no choice (as an honest man before God) but to make a humble reply to his tempters. The elders of the church, instead of appreciating his courage and devotion to truth, made his first sermon his last. I then asked what error had been taught that the preacher should be dismissed, one elder admitted that no error was taught, but said he was afraid such preaching would "cause trouble."

No, brother! Preaching truth will not cause trouble; It may, however, bring to light the trouble that already exists where such an attitude prevails. It was in this way that our Lord "caused trouble" where He taught.

Ours is a shaky "peace" that must be bought at the cost of truth. There is no virtue in "unity" if we are but united in error. In fact, when all agree to error, all will be lost. As bad as "division" may seem, Christ came to "divide" (Lu. 12:51-f.) where division would save some. The surgeon does not hesitate to amputate a limb, if by so doing he may save a life. many are called, but few chosen.

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.2
September 1964

Written Debate - This Issue

Robert F. Turner

July 24, we received a letter from bro. J. L. Hines, Victor St. church, Austin, citing our offer to devote one-half of any one issue for equal- space discussion of points on which any reader might differ with us, and asking for this opportunity. He sent three debate propositions, signing the affirmative of each, and telling us to take our choice.

In further correspondence agreement on a subject was reached. We al- so agreed to exchange our first articles by mail so that the second could be a reply or rebuttal; and thus be more interesting and helpful to the reader. All this has been done, with a minimum of complications. We wish to thank bro. Hines for his prompt- ness, and the fine spirit manifested in our dealings together.

In his last letter he advised: "Keep your powder dry and shoot at short range and waste not your ammunition. ++++ don't fuss but discuss, contend; for it is only God's TRUTH that will last." That's exactly what we tried to do. Our target was not the man, but the error we believe he holds; and we have not hesitated to aim with care, and fire away.

Lack of space precludes much small talk and "niceties", and forces the writer to "get to the point"; but we intend no discourtesy by this abruptness. We have the highest regard for all who have convictions and will try to uphold them. Our "righteous indignation" is reserved for those who go behind our back to attack and ridicule our efforts to serve the Lord. TRUTH is polished by trial. GOSPEL MEETING

Evangelist, W. R. Jones

September 21 - 27

Bro. W. R. Jones, now of Lake Jackson, Texas, is scheduled for a series of sermons at the Rhomberg & Washington Sts. church building, Sept.21-27, and the public is cordially invited to "be our guests."

Services will begin at 7:30 each evening; with congregational singing lead by bro. Turner. Come, bring your friends, and enjoy and profit by the feast in store for us all.

At the best, life is but a brief journey. The eternal truths of God, with directions for this life, and promises for eternity, should appeal to every responsible person. How can we face the Lord in judgment with an honest and untrammelled conscience if we have refused to hear His word, and directed our life accordingly?

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.3
September 1964

First Affirmative - J. L. Hines

Robert F. Turner

(Which bro. Hines labels, "Congregational Independence") 

None deny this. I believe I should not affirm the proposition bro. Turner submitted for me to affirm, namely: "The Scriptures Teach A Plurality of Local Churches May Act Collectively." I do however affirm:THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT A CONGREGATION MAY RECEIVE HELP FROM ANY NUMBER OF CONGREGATIONS TO CARRY OUT ITS SCRIPTURAL PROGRAM.

Each congregation, under Christ, can and should be independent; but congregations, any number of them, may cooperate in carrying out the work of God, under Christ. Bro. Turner and I are two separate and independent individuals, however we may cooperate in carrying out a work and not lose our independency. However, if I allow bro. Turner to do my thinking for me, and I submit to his complete operational program, I lose my independency and become a puppet·

I submit to you that one congregation may outline a program of work, under Christ, such as carrying for orphans, preaching the gospel via radio or T.V., etc., and ask assistance from other congregations and individuals; and if such congregations and individuals, knowing the facts, assist; then therefore such congregations and individuals do not forfeit their independence.

EXAMPLE: 1 Cor. 16:1-4. "Churches of Galatia" were to "lay by in store" put into the treasury, and such bounty was to be carried to Jerusalem, and this for the "poor saints." Read Acts 11:30 and 12:25. This contribution was sent to "the elders." Surely the congregations of Galatia did not lose their independency by taking the money from the treasury and sending it to "the elders" at Jerusalem to be used for relieving the "Door saints" of Judea. ABILENE HIGHLAND CHURCH: The elders of this church instituted a program, set it up, advertised it, took the responsibility thereof, then asked that other congregations and individuals assist in this work. I must insist that these other congregations in assisting the Abilene congregation did not lose their independence; but established their independence by acting as individual congregations in cooperating with others in carrying out the work of PREACHING THE GOSPEL under the Christ.

No congregation, except the Highland church, had anything to do with formulating this RADIO and T.V. program. Has not the Highland CHURCH the right to preach the gospel via radio and T.V.? Has not every congregation the right to assist the Highland church in preaching the gospel? Bro. Turner and those who think as he, are endeavoring to deny congregational independency, but fail to so see.

CONCLUSION: The church is composed of every baptized believer in Christ. Churches of Christ as used in the BIBLE is not a name, but as used by many of my brethren is a name and a denomination. It is true that the church is, today, divided into 26 little sects and all of them are contending against the others. The church at Corinth had 8 divisions in it, yet Paul did not draw the line of fellowship, but addressed the church as "the church of God," "saints." Fellowship lines were not drawn, nor should they be today. "We be brethren" so let us talk as brethren, discuss as brethren and quit drawing lines of fellowship. Come and let us PRAY together and ask God to forgive us as we endeavor to find our way.

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.4
September 1964

First Negative - Robert F. Turner

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Hines may affirm as he wishes but the issue is "collective action" of churches, as we shall see. I DO NOT DENY that one church may receive help ("alms" Acts 24:17) from others in order that her "want" (2 Cor.9:12) may be supplied. This is scriptural cooperation, which we believe and practice. I DO DENY that Highland, or any other church, may become the medium for a brotherhood project.

A congregation's "scriptural program" consists of that which is hers to do by divine assignment, AND GOD HAS NEVER ASSIGNED ANY CHURCH THE JOB OF OPERATING SOME PROJECT FOR OTHER CHURCHES. Highland, Abilene, did not originate 'Herald of Truth" as bro. Hines seems to think. It originated in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a local program; enlarged in Iowa & Wisconsin, brought to College church, Abilene, as a national program; but soon adopted by Highland church.

INDEPENDENT means "NOT DEPENDENT: not subordinate, not relying on others, not dependent for support or supplies." One need not submit to another's "complete operational program" to lose independency. Submission in any degree destroys true independency. As churches differ in size and resources each must operate according to her several ability-- with her own funds. and under her own oversight. An IN-- (NOT) DEPENDENT church could carry on her program of work if she were the only congregation in existence.

Under circumstances beyond their control the Judean brethren (including the Jerusalem church) became DEPENDENT. (Acts 11:28) Some years later this condition was repeated (Rom. 15:26 2 Cor.8:) and alms were sent by other churches to supply their "want" (noun -- a condition of destitution,) until they could again meet their own obligations. (Study 2 Cor. 8:14) Now bro. Hines uses this to justify (?) a church becoming dependent by choice (for supplies) while many others become dependent by choice (for oversight, respecting the radio and T.V. project) --- and he calls this "independency." Instead, it is a misapplication of terms and/or scriptures. His Bible "example" does not fit his Abilene "case history."

Bro. Hines thinks the supporting churches "establish their independence" by sending to Highland. Here he confuses "free agency" (to conform to or reject God's plan) with organizational structure and polity of the church. Congregational independence necessitates each church operating according to its own ability. Choosing to do otherwise is willful rejection of God's plan, and makes matters worse, not better.

Fellowship with God depends on our walking "in the light." (1 Jn.l:6) We promote this kind of fellowship by open Bible study and a willingness to "reason together" in love. I can as- sure bro. Hines that the R.-W. church in Burnet is the victim, not the instigator of "line drawing." Our willingness to furnish him this medium of rebuttal is one proof of this fact.

Bro. Hines' proposition, scripturally defined, does not justify the application he makes of it, and there- fore fails his purposes.

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.5
September 1964

Second Affirmative - J. L. Hines

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner, you have a wonderful spirit, and I love you for it. This kindly spirit will surely heal a DEEP WOUND in the heart of the Lord's church. Brother, you did not try to dodge the issue, but came forth as a Christian and stated an apostolic situation. It is true that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

Our brother admitted the "Judean brethren, (including the Jerusalem church) became DEPENDENT. (Acts 11:28) Some years later this condition was repeated (Rom. 15:26 2 Cor. 8:) and alms were sent by other churches to supply their "want"+++ until they could again meet their own obligations." But our brother makes a distinction of being DEPENDENT by choice and DEPENDENT by destitution (without choice). I must demur. As there is not a person who is not DEPENDENT, so it is with churches. Even the church where our brother worships is DEPENDENT on other churches for its very existence.

I must insist that the "judean churches" under the authority of Jesus Christ, through His Agent, the Holy Spirit, and by the direction of His apostles (ambassadors) did CO-OPERATE in the matter of "giving and receiving" and yet NOT ONE OF THEM lost its INDEPENDENCY (autonomy). My brother rushes in to say: This is a case of destitution, which came to an end, when the cause was removed. Exactly so, but still here is the undisputed case of CONGREGATIONAL COOPERATION with divine approval. But our brother would say: HIGHLAND created a situation. Well, if that situation is within the framework of divine economy; what right have we to say: IT IS UNSCRIPTURAL? I am not concerned where the ABILENE program started, but, is it scriptural? I am not confusing DEPENDENCY with "FREE AGENCY." A church has the scriptural right to undertake any scriptural program, and leave the door open or solicit help to carry on that program, and any church has the scriptural right to help a sister church or not help.

A church loses its INDEPENDENCY when it delegates its right, as a church to another and becomes subject to another; but no church loses its independency when it, of its own free choice, chooses to help another in the PROCLAMATION of the gospel, or chooses to help another in CARING FOR WIDOWS AND ORPHANS. Try Jas.l:27 and Acts 6:, also 1 Cor. 16:1-4.

Why does the church at Burnet take up collection on the first day of every week? This scripture has been misused by "our brethren" for years. This money is in the treasury, yet "we" take it out for every purpose "we" wish and think is "scriptural." Why not?

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.6
September 1964

Second Negative - Robert F. Turner

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Hines shows an amazing disregard for the words of the English language; apparently determined to justify current practices under the terminology of more scriptural circumstances .

He contends all churches must be independent (meaning NOT dependent for oversight. supplies, etc.); then declares all churches are dependent (and erroneously uses the Burnet church as an example).

He presumes to see no difference in a church becoming dependent (in "want," destitute) due to circumstances beyond her control-- having to receive alms to maintain herself; and a wealthy church (Highland, Abilene) adopting a system of operation whereby she is continually dependent by choice.

He "insists" that :N. T. churches "cooperate" without losing their independence. Well, I do not deny it. "Cooperation" is a broad term including "working together WITH another person or thing, TO a common end, or IN a work." (See Webster) Both "collective action" (in which the units give up independency for the sake of team-work) and "concurrent independent action" are covered by the word "co-operate." Our question is, which of these is scriptural cooperation?

The "cooperation" of the Abilene, Herald of Truth program involves a pooling of funds from many churches in a treasury distinct and separate from that of the Highland church (who is not in "want" in the first place) and the acceptance of highland's oversight for the execution of a "brotherhood project. THERE IS NO SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY FOR THIS TYPE OF COOPERATION, so obviously bro. Hines cannot produce non-existent scriptures. Scriptures given in his second affirmative are Jas. 1:27 (which has nothing to do with church organization) Acts 6: (one church, caring for her home obligations) and 1 Cor.l6:l- 4 (sending alms to a church in need-- a point already discussed.

Bro. Hines' own definition of independency answers his affirmative. Over 1,000 churches have delegated their rights (respecting a "brotherhood" program) when they allow Highland, Abilene, to oversee and execute this project. Highland has become dependent by choice (which makes matters worse, instead of better) and makes no effort to operate according to her ability. If there be meaning in words (and if not, all discussion is vain) congregational independence is violated in this and like projects.

Highland is NOT operating "within the framework of divine economy" bro. Hines--nor are any other churches involved in collective projects. Orphan care presents a greater emotional appeal, nor do I question scriptural obligations in the care of widows and orphans, but here too congregational independency must be respected.

Lord's Day collections, the "name" of the church, etc., are by-passed as having no place in this discussion. We appreciate the spirit of our brother's articles and have nothing but the kindest personal regards for him.

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.7
September 1964

What "They" Say We Believe

Robert F. Turner

Some months past a family near Burnet, members of the church in a nearby community, suffered a "burn-out." Individually, some of our members gave a gas range, bedding. etc.; and the R.B W. church, from its treasury, sent a substantial cash offering to assist these people. There is nothing unusual about this, nor would I mention it but for the fact that we were told -- with some indignation -- that we could not do this, because we did not believe in helping such people.

Imagine our surprise at learning this! We had a doctrine we didn't know about. Further, we had been teaching, publicly and privately, all scriptures on the subject. (2 Cor. 9: 12 Gal. 6:10 etc.) The truth of the matter was that someone had told many falsehoods, or half-truths, about the R. & W. church, and these had been believed, without checking their reliability. There is a vast difference in teaching the use of the church treasury only for that which God has authorized, and in letting poor little orphans starve on your door-step.

And ever so often I am told in all seriousness that I believe the church building is "sacred." It is strange how I could believe this without even knowing about it. All this time I am convinced that the Most High "dwelleth not in temples made with hands."

But I must believe this, for I oppose eating in the church building. Amazing!' Up to now, I thought I only opposed church support and sponsoring of recreational and banqueting activities-- on the grounds that these are not the assigned work of the organized church. In view of current digressions along this line --- churches building kitchens, gymnasiums, ballparks, etc., for unauthorized uses-- I would question the advisability of any activity that might cast a doubt upon our convictions. But this is a long way from saying the building is "sacred." On the other hand, a recent survey of churches that stress universal welfare work through benevolent societies, etc., (F.F., 7-14-64) shows the average member of these churches contributed the great sum of 7 cents per week to benevolent work of all kinds. Lest this limited survey reflect unkindly upon our readers, we suggest you make your own "average", using your own church records, if they are available.

Again, the folk who erroneously accuse me of believing the building is sacred, go all out for a "dedication" service in new buildings. Some of them show me their new "sanctuary" (meaning "holy place"). They want me to admire the beautiful cabinet work of their "altar." Not infrequently they display a cross -- over their building, or built into the glass at the front -- with lights that burn through the night. Sometimes they have a sign in the foyer saying, "You Are Entering The House of God." They begin their services by softly singing, "The Lord is in His Holy Temple; Let all the earth keep silence before Him." If they know that this means to respect divine authority rather than "keep quiet in the building" they never "let on." It's rather confusing. Some prayer and fasting might help!

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Vol.I No.IX Pg.8
September 1964

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

In Christ's time, slavery was a common thing. The early church contained both Masters (owners) and slaves -- chattel property. Paul sent a Christian slave home to his Christian master (Phile. 8-19) and Peter taught slaves to respect and obey even the froward master. (1 Pet.2:18)

Yet, in God's sight the soul of the slave was as important as that of any person (Eph. 6:9) and Christians were taught to treat all alike. (Jas. 2:1-f.) But the organized church was not taught to "lobby" against slavery as a social order, nor to revolt against a government that allowed it. (1 Pet.2:13-f) The divine institution has a spiritual mission--that of worshipping God and bringing lost souls to Him --- and its resources must not be prostituted to temporal matters.

Instead, as the cited passages show, the doctrine of Christ abolishes slavery by its leavening influence --- as it teaches men human dignity (Heb. 2:6-f) and our equal kinship to the Creator. (Acts 17:26) As true Christianity spreads, its followers lean and appreciate the brotherhood of man, and are freed of racial prejudices. We seek to better understand our "neighbors" and how to treat them. This is Christ-like character, and it develops and matures in the very natuc/imf man as we individually "put on" Christ. (Phil. 2:5-f. 3:12-15) CHARACTER can not be "legislated" into being; nor have congregations any business trying, by political or other carnal means, to force men to conform to Christ's law. The "gospel" is the power of God unto salvation, (Rom.1:16) not Uncle Sam's long arm.

As the gospel of Christ is taught, each individual Christian-- as a citizen --- will put its principles to work in civic, social, and economic affairs. He will pay taxes, respect authority (Rom.13:5-f) and in a Republic such as ours, cast his vote for equity and justice.

The church, as such, teaches and nourishes character. If those who are members participate in social injustices and racial hatreds, it is because the church has done a poor job of teaching Christ and exercising discipline. As the church fails the man, the man fails society and the state.

More directly, today's weakness is in the individual, who claims to be a Christian, but acts like a "heathen."

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Vol.I No.X Pg.1
October 1964

Why Are We Here?

Robert F. Turner

Abraham may have stirred himself one early morning, looked at the tent of skins that sheltered his bed, and mused, "What am I doing away out here?"

Far from his "old home," away from his people, he sojourned in a strange country. (Heb.11:8-f) WHY? Because he had faith in God, and the strength to obey God's commands.

An Israelite, weary of wandering in the wilderness, ate his meager fare and thought of the flesh pots in Egypt. He may have been one of the many who grumbled the equivalent of "What am I doing out here?" Or he may have been one of the faithful few who accepted their lot patiently, through faith in God, and their destiny.

The early church was regarded by the great majority of Jews as the "sect of the Nazarenes." (Acts 24:5) It consisted of a "little bunch" of "heretics" (24:14) who had "pulled" off from the main stream of Judaism; and as a consequence were alienated from friends, racial advantages, etc. (Phi1.3:4-9) Well might a Jewish merchant, who had become a Christian, look at his failing business, his shattered social position, the growing tide of persecution, and ask, "What am I doing out here?"

Such reflections are the lot of mortals. It is not easy to quit the security of home, friends, and traditional "status quo" in order to stand for truth. But one who has the courage to do so usually knows the answer to his question. "I am out here because I must be honest with myself, and with God!"

When Martin Luther was brought before the Diet of Worms he stood alone before the Emperor, Charles V; and an august assembly of 204 Dukes, Archbishops, Abbots, Ambassadors, Counts, and like royal persons. The Pope had already condemned him, hence the conclusion of the court was foregone. He may well have thought, as he looked at the awesome foe, "What am I doing out here?" But he knew the answer. His prayer, recorded by D'Aubigne, contains these words: "I have nothing to do here, nothing to contend for with these great ones of the world! I should desire to see my days flow on peaceful and happy. But the cause is Thine... and it is a righteous and eternal cause. O Lord! help me!"

The cause is Thine! One need not agree with Luther to appreciate the devotion to God here expressed. Luther stood where he did because he believed as he did, and lived up to his convictions.

In the Restoration, when Stone, the Campbells, Smith, and others were forced out of their home congregations, they were branded as "heretics" and "trouble-makers." Each little group had to answer this question, "Why are we here?" Are our honest convictions worth the price we must pay?

Thank God, they answered "Yes!" (Read "Yes Mother--", this issue.)

And now, when spiritual laxity and disrespect for divine authority again threatens the church, history repeats itself. As man-made institutions are pushed into the budgets of the churches, banquet halls are built, and intercongregational activities promoted, brethren are faced with this choice: swallow your conscience -- accept and support our devices -- or get out.

Individually, we face our moment of truth. We must choose whom we will serve-- God or man. And if service to God means we must step out of the popular stream, we know why we are here. The cause is Thine, Oh Lord! We do not walk alone!



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Vol.I No.X Pg.3
October 1964

Emphasis On Baptism

Robert F. Turner

This story is told about a preacher who preached on the subject of baptism, sermon after sermon. Finally one member, in desperation, asked him to preach on Gen. 1:1, or creation.

The preacher began, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth-- the clouds, the land, and the water-- which reminds me---" so they had another sermon on baptism.

It is expedient for us to discuss more thoroughly those subjects about which there is greatest misunderstanding; hence, baptism has had a multiple work-out. Some of us may have emphasized this subject to the neglect of other important topics, but we have not violated the scriptures in teaching the necessity of baptism.

The great commission, sending the Apostles into all the world, and putting in motion the church as a teaching institution, is very clear on the subject. Matthew records Christ as saying, "--teach all nations, baptizing them--" and Mark reports, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved--" (Matt.28:19 Mk.16:16) In the first application of this commission (Acts 2:38) Peter commands, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

In the cases of conversion recorded in the Acts of the Apostles one must be blind indeed not to see baptism. On Pentecost, in Samaria, the eunuch, Saul, Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippians, Corinthians, Ephesians-- all were baptized. The evidence is so profuse that discussion is limited by space and time-- not material. Then the epistles confirm our findings from Acts of the Apostles. Paul wrote, "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Did Paul "overemphasize"? (Rom. 6:3-4)

Water was the dividing line between a sin-cursed generation and the clean new world in Noah's time; and Peter said, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us --". (1 Pet.3:21) The negative clause, ("not the putting away of the filth of the flesh--") eliminates direct physical cleansing ("water salvation" as some put it) but actually strengthens the truth. Baptism, a figure, is a God-given figure, required of all who would be saved.

Whatever God requires of us in order to our salvation, may be said to "save" us. This is true of faith. If God had not made faith a condition of salvation, there would be no propriety in saying we are "saved by faith." Thus, when Peter says we are saved by this figure, baptism; he is fully consistent with every passage that shows baptism is commanded "for the remission of sins." (See Acts 2:38)

Should we emphasize "baptism"? To the extent this is needed in order to save men's souls -- YES! And woe to the weak in faith who ignore it.

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Vol.I No.X Pg.4
October 1964

Glorifying God "In The Church"
Robert F. Turner

Eph.3:21 reads, "Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen"

Thirty years ago, when I first began to preach, this passage was frequently used to emphasize the importance of the church --- and it seems to me the reference was always to the local, organized congregation. (See USE YOUR BIBLE in this issue) I blush to remember my own use of the passage in my sermon on "giving"; indicating, if I did not actually say, that we had to use the church treasury for all our work, in order to "glorify God."

R. L. Whiteside straightened me out on this long ago, showing me the passage referred to the universal body of Christ, hence to saints, distributively. (Eph. 3:10, 15) All the promises of God are in Christ, unto God's glory. (2 Cor. 1:20)

Faithful service to God through Christ includes both collective work, and that done individually; and God is glorified in both ways.

When "the whole church be come together" (1 Cor.14:23-25) teaching may be done by which the unbeliever is made to glorify God. The "church" at Philippi sent assistance to Paul, by which God was glorifiI ök (Phil. 4:18) And certainly God is glorified when the church relieves those who are "widows indeed;" (1 Tim. 5:16) even though the word "glory" is not attached to these cases. But one is foolish indeed who denies that saints may glorify God in service not related to collective (or congregational) activities. In 1 Cor. 10: Paul discusses the eating of meat that came from animals slain as pagan sacrifices. In such a matter, not remotely related to congregational activity, Paul says, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (Vs. 31) Note-- saints, units of the universal church, acting individually, distributively, may glorify God. For further confirmation, seeTitus 2:5,10 1 Pet. 2:12 Col. 3:17, etc.

In reality, many brethren have allowed "party" pride and a sectarian conception of the church to warp their thinking on this subject. They speak of "giving the CHURCH the glory" instead of "giving GOD the glory." They are confused, when trying to stipulate the "work of the church," because they do not distinguish between the universal church and the local church; nor do they see that the "church" may act distributively, or--in the case of the local church-- collectively.

Add to this the absurd conclusion that "whatever Christians may do, the organized church, out of its treasury, may do" and the resultant mess is enough to make a grown man cry.

The thanksgiving of many, for the work of Paul, gave glory to God. (2 Cor. 4:15) The messengers of the churches, bearing assistance to the needy saints in Jerusalem, glorified God. (2 Cor.8:19, 23) And the Philipplans were "filled with the fruits of righteousness" unto the glory of God.

(Phil. 1:11) SERVE GOD FAITHFULLY, and the "glory" will care for itself.

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Vol.I No.X Pg.5
October 1964

Use Your Bible ......

Robert F. Turner


Even a casual reading of the New Testament shows various applications of the word "church". "I will build my church" --- "the church, which is His body" --- "Unto Him be glory in the church" -- all, obviously, refer to the one universal church. (Matt. 16:18 Eph. 1:23 Eph. 3:21)

But "tell it to the church" --- "elders in every church" -- and "let not the church be charged" as clearly refer to the local or organized congregation, of which there are many. (Matt. 18:17 Acts 14:23 1 Tim. 5:16)

Apparently it is not so clear, however, that the differences in these is something more than size and number. Stuyd the differences listed below, and when you have grasped the significance (exemplified in some conclusions we have drawn) you will be able to add other "points" to this list.


Universal Church Local Church In both heaven and earth. 

Eph. 3:15 Earthly, limited 

Phil. 1:1 The Lord "adds" members. 

Acts 2:47 We "join" ourselves to. 

Acts 9:26 Entered by baptism. 

1 Cor. 12:13 By agreement fellow-saints 

3 Jn. 10 All saints are here. 

Gal. 3:27 Certain saints here. 

1 Cor. 1:2 None but the saved. 

2 Tim. 2:19 Some "not of us" here. 

1 Jn. 2:19 One Shepherd only. Matt. 23:8 Lesser Shepherds here. 

1 Pet. 5:2 Assembled figuratively. 

Heb. 12:23 Literally assemble. 

1 Cor. 14:23 Satan can't prevail agnst. 

Matt. 16:18 Can and does prevail. 

Rev 2:5


The universal church is a relationship of individuals with God, that comes first, and exists regardless of what men do or say (3 Jn. 9-10) as long as the individuals walk in God's truth. The local church is an additional tie, of saints with saints, which God wishes us to take in order that we may function as an organized unit --- function collectively --- to carry out His divine purposes.

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Vol.I No.X Pg.6
October 1964

Yes Mother, I Have Changed!

Robert F. Turner

John Smith, born 1784, nicknamed "Racoon", was a Calvinistic Baptist preacher of pioneer days. For years he preached the creed-bound Baptist dogmas of that day, and affiliated with regular Baptist Associations.

But John Smith was an independent and critical thinker. Reading the Scriptures, and discoursing with a group of Baptists called "reformers", Smith began to study his way out of creedalism, and to preach the pure, undenominational gospel of Christ. This led to his rejection by the more "orthodox" Baptists, and expulsion from some Baptist Associations.

Then, after many years away from home, he returned to visit his aged mother. The following is a touching account of their reunion, as taken from "LIFE OF ELDER JOHN SMITH" by John A. Williams; publ. April 1870.


"They tell me, John, that you have left us! They say that you deny the good Spirit that once gave you peace, and that you tell poor sinners that water can wash away their sins! For a long time I would not believe them; but why didn't you wait till your poor old mother was dead and gone?"

"Mother," said he, "I confess that my mind has undergone some change in reference to the doctrines that I once held as true; but many of the things that you have heard about me are idle tales. I do not teach nor believe such things. I have never denied the Spirit, nor taught that water can wash away sins." "But, if you had only lived and preached as you once did, a few years longer, John, it would not have hurt me; I could have died so much happier;" and she burst into a flood of complaining tears.

He tried, with all his art, to assuage her grief, but his words were powerless. He continued to sit by her side in silence, painfully conscious that he had not the address to wipe away her tears.

"Mother, on your account," said he at length, "I would be glad if I were still a Baptist; but I could not then be true to my convictions of duty. It pains me, beyond expression, to wound the feelings of my mother; and I will now make you, as I regard it, a fair proposition: I will turn back and preach Calvinism as faithfully as ever I did, so long as you live, should I survive you, provided you will agree to answer for me, in the day of judgement, should I be found wrong in so doing."

"Ah, John," she replied, "I can't do that. I shall have to answer for myself in that day, and so must you, my poor boy!"

"Well," said he, "if I must answer for myself then, do you not think, mother, that I ought to believe and act for myself now?"

She mused for some time, and then, wiping her eyes, replied: "I suppose you are right, Johnny; you ought to think for yourself. But you will have to account for it in the great day."


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Vol.I No.X Pg.7
October 1964

Conscience And The Elders

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Our church does things I know are wrong, but most of the members accept them. I have tried to believe everything is all right, but I know it is not. How long may I continue to take part in and support these errors? LW.


I will be frank-- and space forces me to be abrupt-- please understand. You do not need answers as much as you need STRENGTH. The basic problem here concerns your attitude toward God, and response to your conscience.

Today thousands are captives--- prisoners of their own spiritual weakness --- lacking the courage and the strength to act upon convictions. And such weakness is more than a handicap: it is sinful. Fear, that prevents our doing what we know we should do, can condemn our souls. (Rev.21:8 Jas.4:17)

Paul wrote, "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."(Rom.14:22-f) In this passage "faith" is subjective and refers to the individual's conscience. How can one be true to God, who has not the strength to be true to himself?

It is understandable, and commendable, that one should exercise patience toward those in error -- while making an effort to correct the error. But even this does not excuse our own participation in error. Deliberate sin is presumptuous (See Num.15:27-f) and God has never, in this or any other age, tolerated such high-handed disrespect for divine authority. I'll say it plainly, but-- believe me-- with all the love of my heart; you will go to hell if you continue to support and encourage something you know to be wrong.

Bro. Turner:

Since God authorizes a church have elders, if members disobey the elders (who are scripturally qualified) have they not disobeyed God? PM



The voice of the elders is NOT the voice of God--under any circumstance. The voice of the Apostles was the voice of God ONLY as God spoke thru them by inspiration. (Matt.16:19 Jn. 15:26-f. 1 Cor. 2:13)

The question assumes that God has authorized elders to speak for Him. This is not the case. Some common direction and guidance is necessary for collective action, and it is God's plan that men with certain qualifications (1 Tim.3:) serve in this capacity (1 Pet. 5:2) but their judgement could be wrong --- even unscriptural. (See Acts 20:29-f.)

In matters of judgement, obedience to elders assures uniformity of action-- a thing to be desired. But the question of RIGHT and TRUTH must be settled by a higher court --- that of Almighty God. Our allegiance is first and always to God; and His will is revealed in the Bible, not in elders, however noble their intentions.

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