On Church Organization
Turning to Ecclesiastes 3:14-15, we read: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.”
Without a doubt, this scripture is very fitting and appropriate to the subject under consideration, for all who read the Word of God on the subject of the organization of the Church of God, find that the following was to be her lasting characteristic: she is of divine origin. Her inception coexisted in the mind of God with the plan of salvation. Her origin, being the immediate result of redemption, was inseparable from it. And therefore, since, in the counsel and good purpose of God, Christ was a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” (Revelation 13:8) the church, redeemed through His blood, also stood before the divine mind parallel with the gift of His Son.
Of that holy institution, we have seen, He cast a beautiful shadow upon the earth, in the form of the temple and all its contents. And, after “Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were, to be spoken after,” (Hebrews 3:5) in due time, “Christ as a son over his own house,” (Hebrews 3:6) appeared, and He built this beautiful “church of the living God.” (1 Timothy 3:15) He adorned her foundations and walls with the pure gold of His heavenly love, and set them with the precious stones of His graces and gifts. He adorned her pillars with the robe of His righteousness; and in her He sheds the light of his own glory. She is from heaven, and all members are born of God. Along with Christ, her life and head, she is the gift of infinite love. She is “God’s building,” chosen of Him for His own dwelling place; and where He spreads a continual feast of love for all His heaven-born children. The divine Son purchased her with His own blood (Acts 20:28), yea, He gave Himself for her to be His own bride (Ephesians 5:25); He built her upon the rock (Matthew 16:18).
As the true tabernacle of present divine testimony, the Lord pitched her and not man (Hebrews 8:2). As the house of God, “he that built all things [in her] is God.” (Hebrews 3:4) As the beloved city, she “hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) Her foundation is Jesus Christ the divine Savior: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Her life and light is the “eternal Spirit” (Hebrews 9:14); her creed is the pure word of God. Thus spake God by the mouth of His servant Moses: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19) This is fulfilled in His Son as the apostle testifies (Acts 3:22-23).
God announced that He would put His words in the mouth of this prophet; and when He came, He testified, saying, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” (John 14:10) Therefore, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
This adorable Christ came into the world and delivered the perfect law of His kingdom, and when about to finish His mission on earth, He said, “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them” (John 17:8); and when He sent forth His ministers to preach His gospel to every creature, He commissioned them to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Thus we see that Christ Jesus spoke all the words that the Father put into His mouth, all that He had commanded Him to speak; and the Son likewise commissioned His apostles to publish all and only that which He gave them. Therefore, “All Scripture divinely inspired, is indeed profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for that discipline which is in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Emphatic Diaglott)
God the Father, then, is the source of this new covenant, and Jesus Christ is the mediator of the same, Its object is the conviction of men in sin, and the teaching, correction in discipline, in righteousness, of all the saints of God, and the result is, by means of it they are perfect. As the divinely inspired discipline, it corrects every error, and teaches every obligation of righteousness in all our relations to God and to man.
—Daniel S. Warner, in The Cleansing of the Sanctuary. [It is uncertain how much of the above is quoted from the book]
We see by the foregoing testimony of sacred truth, how that God, back in eternity, even before the world was, purposed to redeem fallen man; and not only so, but that He would take the redeemed material and of it build a beautiful church, even to be His dwelling place on earth. We will see as we further give the testimony of truth on the subject of the organization of the Church of God, that God alone is the sole builder of it, and that nowhere in its organization is the touch of man’s hand found, but that it is a wholly divine organization, and in the language of scripture, “nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it [and] that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15) Oh, how unchangeable is this organization! And how complete also, even so complete that nothing can be put to it—it has every organ and function necessary to its completeness and perfection. One had as well say that a man with the use of both his legs has need of crutches to walk on, as to say that this divinely organized church has need of a human organization in order to procure and maintain system and order. Such would be horrid folly, and casts reflection upon both the wisdom and ability of God, and is well nigh blasphemy.
In order to show you how the ministers of the Church of God taught on the subject of church organization, we quote the following from D. S. Warner:
Therefore when men charge us with discarding all organization, they either knowingly or willfully misrepresent us. As the Word teaches, so we teach. The church that Jesus purchased with His own blood, He also built (Matthew 16:18), that is, organized. “In whom [Christ] all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:21) These scriptures and many others clearly set forth the church of God as a symmetrical, and perfectly organized structure.
Of this fact there is no question; but with regard to those who hold the prerogative of organizing the body, all do not so well agree. The general teaching in sectarian theology is that God only saves and gathers men out of the world into a general mass, and that is the duty of ministers to form the material thus provided into organic form. But we teach that God saves men into His church, also forms them into due order, and really organizes the church Himself. As to which position is correct we will now appeal to the Word. A few texts will be sufficient to settle the question. The church, we have seen, is a building, a house; that is, an organic structure. Now it must be apparent to all, that whoever is the architect and builder of a house organizes the same. But “He who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. [And] he that built all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:3-4) “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” (1 Corinthians 12:18) “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles,” (1 Corinthians 12:28) etc. To furnish with organs [in the sense of parts of an organism, not musical instruments —Ed.] “built,” “compacted,” (Ephesians 4:16) “fitly framed together,” and to “[temper] the body together,” (1 Corinthians 12:24) covers all that is included in the word “organize.” And, “All these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:11) Yea, “It is the same God which worketh all in all.” (1 Cointhians 12:6) He then, through the Spirit, is the organizer of His own church.
[Daniel S. Warner; The Cleansing of the Sanctuary]
Dear reader, you will see by the above that the Church of God is a divinely organized church, and that God only is that God is the organizer. This is the position that has been taken by the ministers of the Church of God from the beginning of the Evening Light Reformation down to about the year 1910. You will further see by the following extracts from Gospel Trumpet literature, that according to the Word of God we understood human organization in regard to the church to be unscriptural and wrong.
In January, 1882, Sister Lottie Blackwood told me one day that sectarianism was not right, that she had found a better way, that some ministers around Bangor, Michigan, were preaching against it, and that many had left the sects and embraced the “evening light.” I did not raise any opposition to her, because of the esteem and respect I had for her, but inwardly I felt very sad to think she would leave the good old Methodists and go with a class of people that had no respect for system attained through human organization. Therefore I resolved to study the Bible to qualify myself to convince her of her error. I studied the Word faithfully, but, to my surprise, and delight, I found she was right. So, before I ever heard a sermon preached on the church question, I was thoroughly convinced that the Word of God stood out in bold condemnation of human church organization.
[A. B. Palmer; Nineteen Hundred Years of Church History]
As many know, A. B. Palmer was one of the ministers of the Evening Light Reformation, and he understood that human organization to the Church of God was condemned by the Bible, hence he preached it that way. Not he only, but all the ministers for thirty years or more held human organization to the church as absolutely contrary to the Word of God, as you will further see by the following extract from The Revelation Explained.
In discussing the two-horned beast of the revelation, and his mark, the writer of that book has this to say:
The greatest principle of false doctrine that originated with Catholicism, and one that has been transferred to every Protestant sect, is, that a human organization is necessary to complete the Church of Christ on earth. The Church of Rome has an earthly head and a human government; and Protestants, also, firmly believe the unscriptural doctrine, that they must bow to an organization of men and thus be under a visible human headship; they receive the mark of the beast.
[Frederick G. Smith; The Revelation Explained, “Chapter 13”]
Now, we wish to call your attention to three points in the above, which the writer holds to be wrong and contrary to the Word. First: That to teach that a human organization to the church is necessary to complete it, is one of the greatest principles of false doctrine, brought from Roman Catholicism. Don’t forget this. Second: It is an unscriptural doctrine to believe that we must bow to an organization of men and thus be under a human headship. Third: They that teach and practice such doctrine “receive the mark of the beast.”
Now, dear reader, we will show you by Gospel Trumpet literature, that they, the Gospel Trumpet people, have departed from both the Word of God and their own past teaching on the subject of church organization. In the Ministerial Letter of June, 1915, Thomas Nelson, writing on church organization, after taking notice of the divine organization of the church, comes out very boldly and declares, “There is need of a human organization to work together with the divine Spirit—in this way only can system and order be procured and maintained.” Thus you see that they have surrendered their position formerly held, and according to F. G. Smith’s statement, have embraced the unscriptural doctrine of Catholicism, that a human organization is absolutely necessary to procure system and maintain order in the Church of God. And not only this step has been taken in apostasy from divine truth, but indeed they teach the human headship, which F. G. Smith had once so strongly condemned Protestants for doing. Listen to him:
“Christ is the head of the church,” someone may say. True; but “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.” (Ephesians 5:23) Does not the wife also have a head of her own? So also the church has a head of its own; the church, however, is subject to Christ, as its spiritual head. The officers of the church constitute its personal head.
[Frederick G. Smith; Financial System of the Bible, pp. 31]
Here, as in the other statement of heresy, the writer boldly declares that the Church of God has a human head. Surely “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22) The Pope of Rome makes no greater claims to headship than this man has. Now let us examine his statement carefully and see how it wrests the scriptures in regard to the wife having a head of her own: for he bases human headship of the church upon the proposition that although the husband is the head of the wife, yet she has a head of her own. His reasoning runs that therefore, although Christ is the spiritual head of the church, yet, since the church bears the same relation to Christ as the wife does to her husband, and the wife has a head of her own, hence the church has a human head of its own.
Now in the first place, we deny that, in the sense the apostle uses the illustration, the wife had a head of her own; for the apostle here is speaking of the family relationship, and we declare on the authority of the Word of God, that, in the family relationship, the wife has no head but her husband, for the scriptures declare in regard to the family relationship, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) Why, we ask, should wives submit themselves unto their own husbands? The answer is clear: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even [to the extent] as Christ is the head of the church.” (Ephesians 5:23) Here we find that the wife has no headship in the family, but her husband. But one may ask, “Then what is the wife’s place in the family?” Let the Word answer, “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:20) The Word of God declares the wife to be a helpmeet again here, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain [two] shall be one flesh.” (Mark 10:7-8) So we see that, in the marriage and family relationship, the husband is the head and the only head, and the wife is his helpmeet by his side, from whence she was taken. Hence Mr. Smith’s position of the wife having a head of her own falls to the ground under the weight of God’s Word. Therefore, his position of two heads for the church is without foundation in the Word of God, and he had to borrow it from the unscriptural teaching of Roman Catholicism, and therefore they bear the mark of the beast. A thing with two heads is properly termed a monstrosity. I once saw a dead baby with two heads, but even nature teaches us that a body should have but one head. And this is very apparent, for, since the head is to rule the body, more than one head would result in confusion.
Now, since we see that Mr. Smith has wrested the scriptures in regard to the headship of the church, let us examine the scriptures and see where God placed the ministers of his church. We first read, “But be ye not called Rabbi, for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren…. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:8,11) Again, in the scriptures, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:1) “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:5) “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:1) “Till we have sealed the servants of our God.” (Revelation 7:3) “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.” (Romans 16:1)
These and many other scriptures teach that the officers in the church are servants, and not the head of the church. You may search the Bible through, and you will never find where the officers are head of the church. They never become more than humble ministers or servants to God and His church. So again we see the false teaching of The Trumpet people in regard to the church. Hence the great difference between us and them. They resort to the unscriptural doctrine of Catholicism, but we stand on the Word of God alone, and defy the hosts of sect confusion to move us.