Carey's First Affirmative 9/3/99
Resolved: The Bible teaches that the sponsoring church arrangement is a violation of local autonomy and without Biblical authority.
We know that in the beginning the gospel was preached unto the lost.
How was this accomplished? Jesus said, "Go" (Mk 16:15-16, Mt 28:18-20) and start from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47, Acts 1:4). On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came with power (Acts 2:1-4) and gave opportunity to preach the first gospel sermon (Acts 2:14-36). Also in Jerusalem, the power was demonstrated by miracles and another opportunity to preach a gospel sermon presented itself (Acts 3:12-26). In the hearing of the Council, Peter and John once again declared the gospel message (Acts 4:5-12). They preached again to the Council in Acts 5:29-32. Then a persecution came upon the church. Stephen preached to the Council of elders (Acts 7). After the death of Stephen, it was open season on Christians and because of the persecutions, those who were scattered about went preaching the word (Acts 8:4). Philip went down to Samaria and preached (Acts 8:5-13). The apostles heard of it and sent the apostles, Peter and John (Acts 8:14). Next, we see Philip being directed by the Holy Spirit to go southward (Acts 8:26). As Philip preached about Jesus (Acts 8:34-35) the Eunuch of Ethiopia became a Christian (Acts 8:39). Philip kept preaching everywhere he went (Acts 8:40). Peter WENT to Caesarea when called for (Acts 10:1-22). The Gentiles are accepted (Acts 10:23-11:18). The church sent Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 11:19-22). Barnabas went to find Saul (Acts 11:23-26). The two of them preached in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Barnabus and Paul are sent by the church in Antioch on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-5) at the direction of the Holy Spirit. This began a long saga of adventures for Paul in his efforts to evangelize the world. All the apostles spent the rest of their lives for the cause of "The Way". Many obeyed the gospel and Paul wrote to the church in Colossae who had been taught the truth by Epaphras. Paul stated that the gospel had been preached to them as in the entire world (Col 1:6,23).
The Lord's missionary plan calls for individual Christians to go about preaching the word. Sometimes they do it alone, and sometimes they do it in concert with other Christians.
When Christians in a particular locale agree to join together for the purpose of helping each other worship God, and fulfill their individual responsibilities that God placed upon them, they organize a local church.
The local church is created by human agreement. As a result of local churches being established in various cities, the Holy Spirit gave instructions concerning the government and authority of the local church.
Our debate centers upon the approved examples and authority of how Christians can accomplish the task of evangelism. My position seeks to find what Holy Spirit guided men wrote (2 Pet 1:21) concerning these matters.
When we write of "the sponsoring church arrangement," we are referring to a local church that receives funds from other local churches to sponsor an evangelist's work in a third location.
If we will follow the pattern of sound words recorded in the Holy Bible (2 Tim 1:13), we will do well. We must speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet 4:11). This does not give us authority to speak where God has not spoken. Neither does this authorize us to act where God has not spoken (Col 3:17; Heb 7:14).
The warnings from God's holy word teach us to "seek the old paths and stay there" (Jer 6:16). The sponsoring church arrangement is a product of the mind of man who is rebellious towards God's authority (Rom 13:2; 1 Sam 15:23; 2 Pet 2:10; Prov 17:11)
Just because many congregations of the church of Christ participate in such activity, does not make it right. Human wisdom, past practice (traditions), and emotions will not justify an action in the sight of God (James 1:22).
Brethren, we must seek what God has spoken on this matter. We must not rely upon our conscience and emotions to decide these things. We must have "Book Chapter and Verse" authority. We must have a "Thus saith the Lord". (Col 3:17; Rom 13:1-2).
The bible teaches in another way. By its silence on so many religious subjects, the bible condemns all those practices not commanded and in conflict with what the bible does command of us (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18). It is in this sense that we use the term in our proposition: "The Bible teaches..." It is because "the sponsoring church arrangement" is not mentioned or commanded in any passage that defines it as being wrong. The bible is totally silent on the subject of the sponsoring church arrangement.
We demonstrate that Jesus is truly the Lord of our lives when we submit to His authority (John 12:48; Eph 1:22-23; Mt 7:21-23). The apostles doctrine and the doctrine of Christ are revealed in the Holy Bible (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Bible also teaches us that it is complete (2 Pet 3:15) and provides everything necessary for our salvation (2 Pet 1:3). There is no reason to add to it, and it would be a sin to remove from it (Rev 22:18-19).
God has not authorized any elders to oversee a work other than the work that is being done by the congregation which they serve (Acts 20:28, 1 Pet 5:1-4, Col 3:17). an eldership cannot give up its charge, responsibility, or treasury to the oversight of another eldership.
Neither, does an eldership have authority to accept the charge, responsibility of another eldership. If men were true elders, they would have kept the sponsoring church arrangement out of the church.
I asked Darrell this question, and here is his response.
1. Who is responsible for the oversight of the sponsoring church?
Darrell: A congregation may be scripturally organized or it may be scripturally unorganized. By scripturally organized I mean having a qualified eldership. By scripturally unorganized I mean that there are no qualified men to serve as elders, so the business of the church is taken care of by the men of the congregation. All congregations, by the authority of Christ, are to be arranged as noted above.
Carey here: Notice that Darrell gave a correct statement that can be supported by the Bible. However you will notice that Darrell did not answer the question. Before I can respond and make a point, I need Darrell to answer the question.
I also asked Darrell this question.
3. Can a local church be right in the sight of God, without participating in a sponsor church arrangement?
Carey here: Darrell has recognized Gods pattern for leadership in the local church. Each congregation is autonomous and totally independent from any other local church. The fact that they have the same goals, and follow the same guide does not mean that they are cooperating in an organized work.
I also asked the following question and here is the response.
2. Who determines what the monies will be used for?
Darrell: By monies I assume that you mean money one congregation sends to another for a specified work. The sponsoring congregation takes on a work and then specifies that all funds sent for that work will be used for that work. A cooperating congregation would exercise their right to help that work and determine that their funds would be applied to that work. For example, in the first century the church of Christ at Philippi worked as Paul's sponsoring congregation. Any of the cooperating congregations would have understood that their funds were to be used to support Paul. Philippi obviously committed to getting those funds to Paul either directly, or indirectly through the congregation with which Paul was laboring at the time. No supporting congregation would have thought that they were exercising authority over the church at Philippi, nor would they have erroneously assumed that Philippi was exercising authority over them.
Carey here: Darrell makes many assumptions contrary to what is written in the Bible. His definition of Philippi as a sponsoring church arrangement is one such example. In our first debate, Darrell said that "it may be the case that Philippi was the sponsoring church". Darrell could not produce a scripture that specifically mentions a sponsoring church.
From Phil 2:25, and Phil 4:15, the Bible states that the Philippian church sent Paul support. Paul mentions how that in the beginning of the preaching of the gospel, they were the only congregation to support Paul. Nothing is recorded in scripture about other churches contributing to Philippi for Pauls support. In another book (2 Cor 11:8), Paul mentions that other congregations sent him wages. The example from scripture is that congregations sent support directly to Paul. We have no examples of a church sending money to another church to pay for evangelism (either their own preacher or a missionary).
So, just where did the sponsoring church arrangement come from? None of the New Testament writers wrote about it. The Holy Spirit did not reveal it to us via the Holy Scriptures. This concept came from somewhere other than the scriptures. Following the example of the denominations, liberal minded brethren who wanted to be like their denominational friends introduced it to the church. (1 Sam 8:5). Although the intent was of the purest of intentions, we still do not have authority from the Bible to practice such.
There is not one scripture to be found in the New Testament that speaks of any organization other than the local church. There are no missionary societies, there are no world government arrangements, and there are not any sponsoring church arrangements. The sponsoring church arrangement is a human addition to the pattern of sound words and thus has no Biblical authority.
I would request all that read this debate to determine in their minds to be noble-minded (Acts 17:11). Do not side with either participant because of who they are, but side with the truth of Gods word. Please pray diligently that those in error will see their error and repent. That way, God will be glorified all the more.
Go to the first negative argument of Darrell
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