Many will say, “See how much good we are doing!” This they will say in an attempt at scriptural defense of their man made organizations. This is always the argument to end all arguments which institutional advocates employ. It was the big argument, which began and has sustained the missionary society. “See all the churches we have established! ” was the cry of the missionary society promoters 100 years ago. Thousands of brethren, rather than see this good go undone, closed their eyes to the lack of authority for such an organization in the Lord’s word and enthusiastically “cooperated” to get the good done. Today the Herald of Truth features letters from its listeners, surveys of the number who listen, and estimates of the number who have been baptized as a result of the program; Gospel Press advertises how many can be reached with the gospel for so little money through their advertising society; orphan homes show pictures of the boys and girls being cared for; and schools feature the help they give to the church. The argument is–if you oppose these organizations, you are opposing the good works they do.
Reduced to its simplest form, the argument used by all liberal brethren is, “The end justifies the means.” No one I know believes one can be justified in stealing, and then giving the money to the church. No one I know believes one can be justified in killing, and taking their possessions and selling them to give to the needy. Yet, liberal brethren believe that the good done justifies the use of organizations not authorized in any way by the New Testament. This is not a new concept, but it is greatly erroneous.
If any man ever had the right to so argue, it was King Saul. Saul had been King of Israel only a short time. His authority was still shaky, his leadership just barely proved. The Philistines, Israel’s mortal enemies and their oppressors for years up until this time, gathered to fight the new king. The people were following Saul, but trembling (1 Sam. 13:7). Saul waited for Samuel, for he wanted to entreat Jehovah’s favor before going into battle. He waited a whole week, but at the appointed time Samuel did not show up. There was confusion. Saul was in danger of losing all control of his army. So, although he knew that he had no authority to offer sacrifices himself, he offered the burnt-offering to Jehovah in the absence of Samuel. It seemed to Saul the only thing he could do under the circumstances.
However, Samuel thought otherwise. He appeared as soon as Saul had finished making the offering and asked, “What have you done?” Saul answered, “Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you came not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines assembled themselves together at Michmash; therefore said I, Now will the Philistines come down upon me to Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favor of Jehovah: I forced myself therefore, and offered the burnt-offering” (1 Sam. 13: 11-12 ) . Certainly, if ever a person had reason to “stretch” God’s law a little, Saul did. If the end justifies the means, here is the occasion when it would have. But Samuel answered, “You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of Jehovah thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would Jehovah have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue: Jehovah has sought him a man after his own heart, and Jehovah hath appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept that which Jehovah commanded you” (1 Sam. 13:13-14). It made no difference that Saul saw his kingdom and his people in peril. God’s commandments are not to be ignored–ever!
Playing With Fire
Brethren, you are playing with a dangerous fire when you fool around with these unauthorized church-supported institutions. In spite of the good intentions of their founders and supporters, these organizations are contrary to God’s commands. God has authorized only one organization for the church: the local congregation. For brethren to form others tied to the church is the same as Saul’s offering a sacrifice he was not authorized to make. God’s punishment will be sure on all who violate His commands. The end never justify the means!