VOLUME 1               BROOKLYN, N.Y., JULY 1933          Nu 5




Failure to Recognize God’s Organization a Fruitful Cause of Divisions Among Christians


A Candid Discussion of a Vital Matter


JEHOVAH’S visible organization, as it pertains to the Church of Christ, began at Pentecost, along very simple lines; but under this arrangement God’s people were laden with the stupendous commission to preach the gospel to all nations as a witness until the final end comes. Would it not be presumptuous on the part of anyone to say that God failed back there to provide His people with an appropriate arrangement by and through which they could carry forward the work of the ministry in harmony with the commission He had given them?  Unquestionably it would! Yet, notwithstanding this obvious fact, men soon insisted upon making various "improvements’ in His simple, divinely instituted organization.


Naturally, all such changes have been attended with disastrous results to the spiritual life of God’s people. These humanly devised innovations have fostered the spirit of bigotry, intolerance and hatred, instead of the spirit of true Christianity, in all epochs of the church throughout the age until now.


The first such "change of work" and of organization began to be heralded by ambitious leaders shortly after the death of the apostles. Even before the apostles fell asleep some of the early church were beginning to advocate the mystic doctrine that>the Kingdom is already established.’ This early fantastic error grew and grew, until it gained a real foothold in the church; and finally it was taken so seriously that Christians thought it expedient to appoint their foremost leader, the Bishop of Rome, as a sort of dictator, and to call him the vice-gerent of Christ. Then this mighty leader whom>the Lord had appointed,’ began to exercise kingdom authority over the earth in God’s name.


There followed in the wake of this unauthorized "change" in God’s simple arrangements an organized campaign of intolerance, hatred and persecution of all who dared to say that the change was unscriptural. Christians who opposed the "Lord’s organization," as thus humanly misconceived, were relentlessly tormented in Christ’s name, on the pretext that they were "opposers," "disrupters," and "wicked enemies of "God" and of His work in the earth.


Thus were those who were loyal to God’s true organization of the early church kept in subjection until the Reformation. Then, each of the reformers in turn, made a noble break for Christian liberty, and a sincere effort to return to the simplicity of the early church.  But alas, nearly all of these, or some of their immediate followers, soon decided that God had authorized them to bring about a "change" in His original methods. Many of these, like the early Papists, also decided that the Kingdom is already established; and, even though many of them had been relentlessly persecuted by the "Mother Church," they now turned persecutors of all who had the courage to deny the validity of their presumed divine authority and channelistic boasts.


Same Mistake Over Again


In the dark ages, as well as in the early days of the reformation, those who joined the "opposition" were often literally tormented and put to death. The law does not permit such a cruel course today; so the "loyal" organizationists are now taught to simply "hate" their enemies. They are reminded that God hates His enemies, and that they should do likewise; and they are told, of course, that their worst enemies are those Christians who do not favor "organization" rules.


Have we any reason to suppose that if the laws of the land now allowed it, the organizational leaders who thus teach their followers to pray for the destruction of those whom they define as enemies of the Lord, would not just as gladly instruct that all such be burned at the stake, even as did their predecessors of the dark ages?


It is because we thoroughly believe that a failure to recognize what constitutes God’s real organization has been one of the most fruitful causes of intolerance and division among the saints, that we deem it important to here take up the subject for candid discussion.


Babylon’s Early Rise


Jesus, in His parable of the wheat and tares, and the Apostle Paul, in his discussion of the "Man of Sin," which was beginning its development even in the early church, both make plain the fact that there was to come a great falling away from the faith and practice of the believers as originally instituted; and that this would result in a gigantic growth of organized error among the saints, which in turn would produce many spurious Christians; and that in the organized assemblies of this greatly inflated type of "Christianity" the true Christians would become very obscure-choked out as it were-or held in bondage to the organizations and opinions of ambitious men.


Paul suggests, in 2Th 2:7, that this "falling away," this sinister unchristian apostasy, began in a small way in his day; and that it would continue to grow into a fully developed "man" of sin, by which the whole system would be corrupted and become apostate.  His prediction has been literally fulfilled. At first this spurious organization held almost an exclusive monopoly over the affairs of the church; but later, beginning with the Reformation, other rival groups sprang up, each challenging the authority of the "mother church" and themselves boastingly claiming to be the specially appointed favorites of heaven.


Today there are many such organizations, all making essentially the same erroneous claim; though some are more and some are less arrogant in flaunting their presumptions before the public. All of this egotism and confusion-reflecting as it does the selfish spirit of the world, and of Satan, the god of this world-God calls "Babylon"; and therefore to His people as individual followers, He still is issuing the command, "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." -Re 18:4.


Coming out of Her, Means What?


When Jesus prophetically portrayed this nominal organization of professed Christians, in His parable of the wheat and tares, He pointed out that in the extreme end of the age the wheat would be separated from the tares. It seems quite clear, therefore, from a proper comparison of the various Scriptures on the subject, that there would come a time, ere the full end arrives, when God’s true people would recognize the necessity of freeing themselves from every vestige of "organization" which goes beyond the simple arrangement that God originally instituted for His people through Jesus and the apostles.


In other words, it is evident that the full separation of wheat and tares-that is, the complete coming out of Babylon-really calls for a complete return to that simplicity of church organization and practice under which God’s spirit was so abundantly manifested in the beginning of the Christian era.


It is for this reason that we believe this frank discussion of the subject is of prime importance to all consecrated Christians at the present time. All true disciples now will conscientiously need the divine instructions when understood, regardless of how such obedience may affect their standing with others whom they love and esteem. We must be prepared to act as we believe that God would have us act, even though it mean the severance of every social or earthly tie, and bring upon us the taunts and sneers of those still blinded by prejudice, and who have allowed the glamorous display of human organization and pretended authority to displace in their minds the blessed simplicity and Christian spirit of the early church.

No Central Control in Apostolic Days


The only authentic record we have which reveals to us the method of procedure in the early church, and the characteristics of church organization as constituted by the apostles, is that which is given us in the book of Acts, and later reflected in the epistles of the various apostles. A study of the facts thus made available for us reveals that then there was no central group of organization of believers whatsoever, to which the local congregations were supposed to look for instruction, guidance, or spiritual food. Nor does the Lord’s Word anywhere indicate that there ever would come a time when such an arrangement would be divinely authorized.


Neither do the Scriptures indicate that any organization formed by fallible men to preach the gospel should be recognized as having a monopoly over the spiritual interests of Christians; although by the use of Old Testament prophecies, and other obscure passages of the Scriptures, attempts have been made to prove such a theory.


Each local congregation, in early days, was an individual unit and governed fully and only by the vote of its own members. The teachers, variously styled pastors, bishops and elders, elected by the local congregations, had no jurisdiction outside of their ecclesia. Through their failure to recognize this limitation many of the teachers later, after the death of the apostles, united, and sought to control the congregations, instead of continuing to be themselves subject to the ecclesia that elected them.


The Jerusalem Conference


The nearest we find to any centralized action, was when, on one occasion, an apostolic conference was arranged for at Jerusalem. But this was called for a very special purpose, and was not a continuous Aorganization," or permanent council. It was, at the most, merely a convention during which thoughts were compared in regard to a matter that had become a very important issue amongst the believers of that day. -Ac 15.


The apostles, and for a time, all of the early church, were Jews; and as such they had become accustomed to thinking that God had no special blessings for any except their own nation, unless others became proselytes to Judaism and kept the Mosaic Law. But now the time had come for the gospel to go freely to the Gentiles, and naturally the matter presented some very serious problems to those early Jewish converts.


There was no central authority to which these early Christians could look for authentic instruction; and even some of the apostles, for a time, were uncertain as to what was the proper course to pursue. So they gathered at Jerusalem, and there discussed the question in detail. A definite decision was reached when James stood up and recalled to his brethren how God had appeared to Simeon (Simon Peter) in a vision and had given him specific instruction to visit Cornelius, a Roman army officer, and tell him about the gospel of the Kingdom. -Ac 10 and 15.


James then cited some Old Testament prophecies as further proof that the time had come for the Gentiles to receive the gospel. The others concurred, as James thus summed up the matter; and the results of the conference were thereafter made known to the various groups of brethren beyond Jerusalem.


The apostles being divinely inspired, this decision was of course binding upon all the church. After this conference adjourned we have no record of any further efforts being made, either by the apostles, or by the early ecclesias, to reach a united conclusion on matters that pertain to the affairs of the various local congregations; and certainly no effort was made to set up a central headquarters with authority to control the ecclesias, or the minds and acts of individual believers. It was the antichrist, or "man of sin" who did this, after the great "falling away" from the faith and simplicity of the early church had taken place.


Apostles Recognized no Head but Christ


Analyzing the Bible record still further, we find that even among the apostles themselves there was no recognition or claim of special or super-authority on the part of any one of them. It was after the apostles themselves had died that the apostate church set up the claim that Peter was the visible "head" of the church, and that the right of "papal succession" existed from his day onward. Peter thus became the first generally recognized human "channel" of truth. But Peter never made any such claim for himself, nor was he so regarded by the other apostles, or by the early church generally; only a few in those early days made the carnal claim, AI am of Peter!"


Paul certainly did not regard Peter as his "infallible head," when he, on one occasion, "rebuked" him publicly. There was no central authority among the apostles, or among the first century ecclesias, except the supreme authority of the Lord Himself. It should have remained so throughout the age even to this day; but alas, how easily can ambitious leaders lead God’s people astray!


It appears that most of the missionary efforts put forth by Paul and the other apostles were undertaken and carried out without even particularly consulting with each other. The church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas on a missionary tour to visit the other churches, as well as to do pioneer work where no churches had as yet been established. There is no record to indicate that the other apostles or ecclesias were consulted before undertaking this evangelistic tour, or that the brethren in general were given a vote in the matter. And why should such be thought necessary?

God, Not Man, Commissions You


Certainly there is no Scriptural or other good reason why any individual Christian or ecclesia, if the opportunity presents itself, should first petition other groups for permission to go forth and preach God’s Word; though if other ecclesias are served it is, of course, important to obtain the permission of such ecclesias, and not force one’s service upon them.


An outstanding example of the liberty that existed in the early church is given in the experiences of the Apostle Paul. When this great apostle first entered the ministry very few of the believers even knew that he had been converted. It was not until sometime afterward that a few saints heard that he who had persecuted the church of Christ was now proclaiming the glad tidings.  {Ga 1:16-23} How different was his procedure from that which has been the custom of many religious leaders and organizations since that time! Many even now continue to place human ordination or authority above the sanction of our one true Head, Christ Jesus.


Improving on God’s Ways (?)


Imperfect human reasoning would say that such apparently haphazard methods as were used in the early church would be very ineffective today; and that in order to accomplish great things it is now necessary to have a centralized system of control to function as overlord in directing the thoughts and activities of the saints everywhere. The facts of history, however, reveal to the contrary.  Never, at any time during the entire Gospel Age, has the truth flourished and increased more rapidly and more effectively than under the simple arrangement which God instituted for the early church.


But when the apostles fell asleep, and ambitious leaders began to "organize" the ministry and put it upon an "efficient business basis," with centralized control, the truth soon became throttled, and ere long the pure gospel of Christ was fully burned in the rubbish of ritualism and human tradition. The same thing occurred in the days of the great Reformation. It, too, did its most effective work at its beginning, while the reformers were unorganized but dominated by love for truth and simplicity. But soon the leaders began to form organizations to "control" matters, and forthwith the true spirit of the Reformation was quenched, and zeal for truth thereafter took a secondary place.


Clergy-Laity Division Was Never Sanctioned by God


Every departure from the simplicity of the apostolic church has had a tendency to produce and accentuate unauthorized carnal separations of the Lord’s people, at least into two general groups-the servants and the served. In nominal Christian circles this division is proudly recognized, and dignified by distinctive names-clergy and laity. Such carnality should not be tolerated amongst God’s free people. All are on the same footing in Christ Jesus; and through the anointing of the holy spirit every footstep follower of the Master is authorized to be a minister of God and of righteousness.


Every attempt to "organize" the church, and to appoint by a general vote of the saints or otherwise, special representatives endowed with authority beyond that of their own local ecclesia, is certain, sooner or later, to create the impression that those thus specially appointed are somehow just a little superior to the rank and file of the brethren, and that any who presume to serve independently of their jurisdiction are not duly recognizing "the Lord’s arrangements," hence should be looked upon with suspicion if not downright contempt.


History has repeated itself along this line many times. The early reformers refused to bow the knee to Papacy, and as a result they were branded as "wicked," "disloyal," "heady," or "ambitious," simply because they refused to recognize the authority of the self-styled AHoly See." We may be hastily inclined to congratulate ourselves that we no longer live in a day when sincere efforts to serve the Lord are thus throttled or branded as heresy and disloyalty by any one of the present-day organizations called Christian; but let us not be too sure that such congratulations are in order.


The struggle for Christian liberty, and against the carnal spirit of special class-interest, is a life-long one on the part of every individual saint of God, and is going on today just as it did in the far distant past. Nothing will overcome it but the true spirit of divine love ruling in the heart.

Baneful Source of Intolerance


Every attempt to centralize control of the Lord’s work, irrespective of the good intentions represented in those efforts, almost invariably has had the tendency to produce a selfish, bigoted, Aecclesiastical" frame of mind on the part of those elected to control; and this attitude seems to hinder the ability of many such to appreciate the fact that there can be such a thing as a sincere unselfish desire to serve the Lord outside of their particular organization or channelistic arrangement.


Because of this all such independent efforts are condemned as being due to sinister "ambition" or "disloyalty." The Lord understood human frailty along this line; and this evidently explains why He and the apostles held to so simple an arrangement, and the reason also, why He did not provide for any elective offices in the church higher than that of local eldership.

Why God’s Way is Best


The wisdom of this simple arrangement for the church is apparent.  Should a teacher in a local congregation become heady, and insist that he alone must be considered the head of that congregation, it could cause no trouble except locally. But, if an individual, or group of individuals should receive the general recognition of many, or all of the churches and then assume a monopoly over the Lord’s work, as sometimes happens, a serious situation is thereby created.  In such a case either one of two things must happen, both of which are carnal:


First, it may be that all the local congregations will be willing to submit to such unwarranted control-or at least enough of them to make of no avail a protest on the part of a small minority-in which case there develops a condition of sectarian bondage. This means a throttling of the free interchange of thought. All who express ideas aside from those that emanate from the recognized channel, or who may make bold to call in question some point that is sponsored by the organization, are looked upon with suspicion; and if they continue to exercise their Christian liberty they soon are branded as "heretics," "opposers of God," and the faithful are warned not to have anything to do with them because they have "gone out of the truth."


Second, if only a portion of each congregation is willing to recognize the lawless attitude of the elected or self-styled leaders, and the others prefer the simplicity of the early church, and insist on remaining free to cooperate with and fellowship all who love the Lord, the result is inevitably a "division." Then the cry goes forth to "mark those that cause divisions, contrary to the doctrines, and avoid them."


But the important question that is often overlooked is, Who caused the division -those who adhered to the simplicity of the early church, or those who introduced the unscriptural innovation of lordship and centralized control? The organizers are usually horrified at the "rebellious" ones who insist upon apostolic simplicity and Christian liberty, and if there is no hope of bringing a good majority of them "into line," they usually advocate, for "principle’s sake," withdrawal from them. Thus they become bound all the tighter with the cords of organized exclusiveness.


Protestants, Awake!  Should we not, beloved brethren, take careful cognizance of our relationship to the Lord, and our responsibility toward the work of His ministry, and determine, regardless of cost, to wrest ourselves free from every possible cord of carnal bondage that may still be holding us back from full fellowship with Him and His people?


The protestant movement that started centuries ago is still going on. Even the harvest work, in which we all have been engaged, seems far from complete. Indeed, it cannot be complete until every grain of wheat-every living saint of God-is not only gathered out of the grosser forms of sectarianism, but also winnowed as well from the more subtle forms of carnal bondage; yea, shall we not say, until every true Christian returns to the full recognition of the fact that God’s way of organizing and conducting His church was, and still is, the best way, all-sufficient.


The outstanding characteristic of mystic Babylon has been her centralized control over the spiritual affairs of her members, in violation of the divinely instituted arrangements of the early church. It follows therefore, that none of us can be sure that we have come fully and unreservedly out of Babylon until we have cast off all the humanly imposed fetters of bondage that go beyond God’s simple apostolic arrangement for His people.

Why These Tests?


With these facts before us can we not understand why the Lord has permitted to come to His people the peculiarly trying experiences of the past few years? Instead of wishing, therefore, that the latter part of the harvest work might not have been a period of such confusion and separation, can we not see that what appears to be a calamity is in reality an act of divine providence, designed to make possible a more complete liberation from Babylon, and a still closer union with our one true Head?


Indeed, in no other way could the full import of Christian liberty and freedom from Babylonian bonds have been so well brought to our attention. A mere glance over the field today is sufficient to prove that there is indeed much yet to be accomplished in assisting many of our brethren in more perfectly heeding the clarion call to "Come out of her, My people." The earmarks of Babylon are almost everywhere in evidence. Let us then, beloved, continue, to send out that call to all His people, and meanwhile also see that we remain free ourselves.


Complete Separation Required


The mere separation from some one or another of the great or small "organizations" now in existence is not enough, either! It would appear now that such is but the first step in the coming-out process. It is easy, perhaps, to have one’s name removed from some church roll or organizational arrangement, but it is much more difficult not to bring any of the spirit of sectarianism along with us.


It now seems apparent that "coming out of Babylon@ is something that involves a cleansing of the very innermost recesses of our hearts and minds from every semblance of the Aorganizational@ complex; from every secret carnal desire to lean upon some modern Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas-whether these spiritual leaning posts be individuals, societies, institutions, committees, or what not.


Shall we not, then, institute a rigorous process of self-examination along this line? Shall we not also, by word and by example, throw our influence behind this much-needed present-day protestant movement! From the standpoint of this work that remains to be done it is still true that "the harvest is great but the laborers are few."


At one time there were 1200 independent classes of the Lord’s people in this country alone who had been harvested from the great tare-field of nominal Christendom, and were all enjoying the freedom and light of present truth. But many, if not all of us, in our hearts, were still in a measure of bondage. We needed a further lesson in order to give us a better vision of what constitutes real Christian liberty, and the importance of that liberty in the Christian life. Some are learning that lesson in one way, and some in another.


We Needed the Lesson


It was, by divine permission, and in order to purify the saints still further, that circumstances developed which have caused very many of the Lord’s people, in present truth, to again become bound. And Satan’s efforts in this direction have never been confined to any one group. True, it may have been more apparent in one particular quarter than elsewhere; but his efforts to re-enslave us have been felt by every consecrated child of God the world over. Some have resisted his attempts more successfully than others. Some may even now think that they are free but are not.


The net result of this unexpected onslaught of Satan is seen in the fact that now nearly all of those 1200 classes of liberty-loving Christians are again taking orders from a humanly elected overlord.  But many of the individual Christians now in these classes, are, in their hearts, rebelling against this unchristian bondage. Indeed, they are again struggling for their liberty-ignorantly so, in many cases-and they need our help.


Temporary bewilderment has reduced many to a state of mourning. They have temporarily lost their spiritual vision. They are "mourners in Zion" at the present time; and, just as in the past it was our privilege to point the way to liberty through a proclamation of the truth, so now again God places squarely upon our shoulders the responsibility of sending out the truth to all these, coupled with the urgent call, "Come out of her, My people."

Temporary Failure no Disgrace


True Church Unity


There is no other way to enjoy real Christian unity except by a recognition of God’s own instituted organization for His people as represented in the early church. Jesus prayed for unity among the brethren, and surely we cannot go wrong by insisting that that same true spirit of unity be maintained in our own hearts; and then using our influence, our talents, our substance, in an effort to encourage that blessed spirit among others. But true Christian unity is impossible so long as the brethren permit any outside influence except the Lord to force itself upon the affairs of their local congregation.


If all the saints in all the world should cast a unanimous vote for the appointment of one brother, or a group of brethren, to represent and control them in a general work, and if they then loyally supported those for whom they voted, that would not constitute the true Christian unity for which Christ prayed; for the reason that such an arrangement is carnal, and has never been authorized by Jehovah God or the Lord Jesus.


True Christian unity cannot be voted into or out of the church of Christ. It exists only where God’s arrangements are operative, and where His spirit reigns supreme. This means that every ecclesia should throw off every fettering recognition of outside leadership, and govern its own affairs by the laws of the new creation as laid down in the New Testament. Jesus said that "Where two or three are gathered together in My name (not in the name of some organization), there am I in the midst and that to bless." Let us, by faith, lay hold upon this promise, and realize to the full the rich blessings that become the heritage of those who obey the Lord fully.


Nor should the ecclesia impose any tests of fellowship upon its individual members other than those authorized in the Bible. Where this true recognition of God and His laws is insisted upon in the local ecclesia there is true Christian unity-the unity for which Christ prayed.

Cooperation Without Bondage


Such independence on the part of each ecclesia does not mean that there cannot be wholesome fellowship and fullest cooperation amongst the Lord’s brethren everywhere; but the very reverse. In the early church it was customary, as we have seen, for ecclesias that could do so to send out assistance to others. Thus speakers went from place to place preaching the message.


At one time the Christians at Jerusalem were in need of material help, and Paul, because it "pleased" the churches, collected funds and took them to the brethren at Jerusalem. From this it is plain that there was full cooperation back there; and there can, and should be such cooperation today. But when cooperation involves the recognition of one brother, or group of brethren, above others, as having special or super authority, it becomes carnal, Babylonish, and unchristian.


As we have already noted, the spiritual needs of many of the brethren today are very great. We suggest that every ecclesia of Bible students now enjoying their Christian liberty bestir itself to see what can be done to help fettered brethren in nearby cities and towns. Conditions are rapidly ripening for a modern exodus from present Babylonish bondage. Let us all, dear brethren, be continually on the alert to help direct these dear ones into the green pastures of complete Christian liberty and unrestrained fellowship with God. Clearly the time is at hand for us to do our full duty. And what a privilege it is to help God’s people who are now in need!




ABEHOLD I stand at                         "HE that loveth his the door and knock:                           brother abideth in if any man hear                                     the light, and there My voice, and open                          is none occasion for the door, I will come                         stumbling in him." in to him, and will                                 - 1Jo 2:10. sup with him and he with Me."- Re 3:20.




ATHAT ALL MEN                                 AFOR one is your should honor the                                    Master, even Christ, Son even as they                                 and all ye are brethren." honor the Father."                                  - Mt 23:8—Joh 5:23???.


THE WORDS OFJESUS in Re 3:20 are addressed to individual Christians, who, after the Laodicean church had been spued out, have the necessary faith to take Jesus at His word.


The Heavenly Father, through Jesus, deals with His children direct, as individuals. This text proves it. We had faith to believe it once and shall we not have faith to continue that belief? The arm of the Lord is not weakened so that His people must lean upon human instrumentalities.


Though our confidence in human help is destroyed; though from the most unexpected quarters our liberties to breathe a true and living faith are threatened; yet there is One who ever watches over His people-who in the hour of trial stands at the door ready to enter and protect.


The various religious organizations of earth either honor Jesus more than they honor the Father, or else almost entirely lose sight of Jesus’ true position in the church; but the ever watchful Shepherd sees the danger and will guard His true sheep from pitfalls and crouching terror.


The Lord has also given definite instructions that He alone is to be the Head of His people, and that "all ye are brethren." Let us abide by His wishes, and encourage those with whom we are associated to abide by them. If we do this, and have the proper love for all our brethren, there will be no occasion for stumbling in us.





That the outstanding purpose of the Christian’s existence is to show forth the praises of God, there can be no question. That proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom is one method by which the Christian shows forth God’s praises is also a Scriptural fact that cannot be successfully disputed. The Scriptures also show, and experience proves, that in order for any effort in proclaiming the glad tidings to really honor the Lord it must be backed up by Christian conduct consistent with the high standards set forth in the Bible-"ye are ... a holy nation... that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."


Efforts to proclaim the truth by independent classes, and by individuals who are free in the Lord, have been greatly blessed; even as similar efforts were blessed in the days of the apostles, as well as during more than forty years of the present harvest.


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