Index by Subject

Running Ahead of God

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

Most people are aware of the fact that Jonah tried to run away from God. He could not do so, and neither can we. We are also aware of Saul of Tarsus resisting God, or kicking “against the goads” (Acts 9:5). In this article, I want to consider some lessons we need to learn from those who made mistakes in the “opposite direction” – those who tried to run ahead of God. To put it another way, we will consider the accounts of those who presumed to know what God wanted and acted on their own to carry it out. Continue reading » Running Ahead of God

Review of “Anti-ism — From God or Man?” (1)


In 2006 the small group wearing the moniker “Spring Church of Christ” in Spring, Texas hosted their annual “Contending For the Faith Lectureship.”   In that year the topic under consideration was “Anti-ism—From God Or Man?”   In conjunction with the lectureship series, a lecture book was printed to help further the spread of their intended message.     I came into possession of this work, and spent some time at the wearisome task of examining the teaching therein.   What will follow is a series of articles reviewing portions of that lecture book.

Why only review portions?    As is so often the case, when those few institutional brethren who will discuss these issues take time to discuss them, they make attempts to tie them into some inane and obscure doctrines that are present among churches of Christ.  For instance, they will attempt to liken brethren who oppose the use of the collection to support human institutions such as orphans homes, preaching schools, etc., with those who oppose the use of separate Bible classes or who bind the idea that Christians must only use one container when partaking of the Lord’s supper.   Thus we see no reason to review articles that condemn ideas that we agree are not biblical. Continue reading » Review of “Anti-ism — From God or Man?” (1)

White Unto Harvest: "It’s Different Over Here"

How often over the years I have heard both institutional and conservative brethren make the above statement concerning the issues which divided brethren in the 1950’s and since.  As a result of this belief some brethren in military or government service have been influenced to cast in their lot with institutional churches during their tour of duty in Germany.  Some conservative preachers have moved freely between conservative and liberal churches, even having institutional preachers in for gospel meetings because it’s “different” in Europe than in the U.S.  Non-institutional churches in the U.S. have financially supported so-called “conservative” preachers who labor in Europe who practice such blurring of lines as we have described in the preceding sentence because ‘it is not the same over there; they have not divided over these issues.’

Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: "It’s Different Over Here"

The Simple Gospel: Institutionalism – An Abuse of Authority

In our last article on authority, we documented several "digressions" which resulted from a lack of understanding of how Bible authority is established.  The three general apostasies we mentioned were: 1) The establishment of the apostate church (Catholicism); 2) The embracing of human creeds in the Protestant Reformation; and 3) The apostasy in the late 1800’s which led to the establishment of the Christian Church denomination.

In the more recent past God’s people have been troubled by digression.  In the 1940’s and 1950’s issues arose in the church, which led to division among God’s people.  The digression again came because men either lacked respect for or understanding of the authority of Christ.  In this case the digression surrounded the work and organization of the local congregation, and the sufficiency of the church to do the work assigned it by God.

Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Institutionalism – An Abuse of Authority


In previous articles, we have been discussing religious error that exists without. That is, outside the fellowship of churches of Christ. Other departures from truth, of more recent vintage, have troubled the people of God.

In the United States, two serious digressions have taken place in the last 150 years. In the 19th century, division occurred when some began to advocate the church support of a human missionary society. Some were unwilling to trust the New Testament pattern for evangelism, and established a human institution to do the work instead. The church was displaced in its work, and became a fund raising organization for the human missionary society. This issue, coupled with the introduction of mechanical instruments of music in worship, led to a division and formation of the Christian Church denomination.

Continue reading » Institutionalism

Walking Worthy: Reaping Another Whirlwind

“They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no bud; It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, Aliens would swallow it up” (Hosea 8:7).

The minor prophet was excoriating the false religions which Israel dallied with in their temptation of God so many centuries ago now. Such false religions plant something without substance and produce something destructive. Their adherents are without moral compass, for false religion offers either none or one inferior to God’s and thus the challenges of the world and the worldly overcome them in time.

The prophecy bears some resemblance to Christ’s parable of the sower in Matthew 13. There also, three of four souls touched by the gospel did not endure in the faith because of persecution, trial or apathy. Today, so many churches of Christ are sowing the wind in their instruction of the young that we are nearly reduced to standing back and waiting for the whirlwind when the next, untaught generation assumes pulpits, pens and presbyteries.

Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Reaping Another Whirlwind

Why I Left Liberalism

Editor’s Note: After this August 2001 issue was already posted, I was asked by brother Yeager to publish the following article. Brother Yeager has recently taken a stand against the error that is documented elsewhere in this issue of Watchman. His reasons for leaving serve as a welcome addition to the material already found in this month’s Watchman. I commend the article to you.

The Lord’s church today is divided over many issues. Most of those issues are simply filed under the subject of Bible Authority. I spent my first preaching work teaching liberal doctrines relative to the church’s authority to support things in which the Bible never authorized. I spent most of my second preaching work studying some of these issues because of Ed Phillips who was my neighbor, friend, and a fellow Gospel Preacher. I had studied with others and had seen some of my inconsistencies but I was not fully convinced that I was a false teacher on these matters of authority. I then began my third work and during the beginning of that work I was realizing more and more as I studied. I never did buy into the fact that we had authority to support orphan homes with the Lord’s money, but I did not stand against it either. This article is going to reveal what finally made me leave the liberal position of Institutionalism and the things relating to that position. I knew of some like myself who did not belong in that belief system, but we also had a developed hatred towards what we termed “anti’s”. Of course, labels are used to develop prejudice against a group of people. For example the Christian church calls faithful members of the Lord’s church “non-instrumentalist”. This is true, for faithful Bible students would be “anti instruments” or against instruments used in Christian worship. We must realize that there are extremists on all sides of every issue. I am not an extremist. I was listening to a lecture on the subject of “anti-ism” on the Internet. This fellow said that “anti-ism” was people who bind one communion cup, no bible class, etc. This is the case in some extreme positions, but not most. Do not allow your mind to be clouded by misrepresentations so that you will not study these issues. This is what I did, it took me too long to wake up and see the truth!
Continue reading » Why I Left Liberalism

Division: The Institutional Issue

Why We Are Still Divided in the 21st Century

The apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the saints in the first century as recorded in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” We know this was in accordance with the desire of Jesus because of Christ’s prayer that we have recorded in John 17. We read in verses 20-21 of that chapter these words of prayer offered to the heavenly Father by our Lord: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

The ancient psalmist, David, wrote of the pleasantness of unity when he penned the 133rd Psalm, which reads: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing — Life forevermore” (vss. 1-3)

Continue reading » Division: The Institutional Issue

The Social Gospel

Why Churches of Christ Do Not Build or Support “Fellowship Centers” or Sponsored Recreation

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). So wrote Paul the apostle to the Corinthian Christians two millennia ago. Problems in the church of Christ are nothing new, and have existed since the First Century. There have always been problems, issues, disagreements, heresies, and apostasy stemming from within the church, and often this internal turmoil can be more harmful and hurtful than external persecution. The particular manifestations of the root issues have varied throughout history, but the seed has remained the same; that seed is the desire to change the worship of God to the worship of self.

We young preachers have read many accounts of the issues that affected the church in the 19th Century and earlier, especially in this country as the issue of institutionalism played itself out in the debates over the church’s support of manmade institutions. Yet the people representing the two sides of these issues have, for the most part, stood their ground, so that today there are faithful brethren who refrain from such practices, and others who insist on them – a vast rift between those who once were brethren, and now are very different.

Continue reading » The Social Gospel

The Church VS The Individual

For over fifty years there has been a controversy among members of churches of Christ concerning the work of the New Testament church. A major part of this controversy has involved what difference, if any, there is between the church and the individual. Many brethren have argued that there is no difference between the church and the individual. Let us pause to notice some examples of their reasoning.

“There are those who try to distinguish between the work of the church and the work of Christians, indicating one to be divine, the other human. This is fallacious reasoning. The church is composed of Christians; what the church does, Christians do; what Christians do, the church does, generally speaking. We cannot separate the Christian’s work from the work of the church.” [i]
“Actually we may say that whatever is the duty of the Christian is the duty of the congregation of Christians.” [ii]
“Consciously or otherwise we make a distinction between the church and Christians, and much of our reasoning is based upon this unproved assumption.” [iii]

These are clear statements. Such reasoning brings up several pertinent questions. Why have our brethren made such arguments? Does the Bible really teach that there is no difference between the church and the individual? Where does such reasoning lead? Our study of this matter seeks to both answer these questions and introduce helpful facts relevant to this discussion.

Continue reading » The Church VS The Individual

Are Institutional Orphan Homes Expedient?

One of the most useful helps in a study of the Bible is an accurate understanding of its teaching concerning expediency. Through the centuries a misunderstanding of such has dealt the church untold misery. Under the guise of expediency every form of innovation has been promoted, and wholesale apostasies developed in the work and worship of the church. Missionary societies and instrumental music were both defended as expedient methods of executing God’s commands. Again today from the camps of the innovators the cry of expediency is heard under the same guise in an all out effort to promote organizations and operations of the same nature as those of yesteryear.

What is Expediency?

Webster says expediency means, “Cultivation of, or adherence to, expedient means and methods.” Expediency, then, has to do “means and methods ” that is, the manner or way in which a given work is accomplished. In short, then, an expedient in religion is the best means or method of executing a divine command when the way to do it is not specified.

Continue reading » Are Institutional Orphan Homes Expedient?


I. Introduction:

    A. Over fifty years ago, a prominent preacher warned:

The ship of Zion has floundered more than once on the sand-bar of institutionalism. The tendency to organize is characteristic of the age. This writer has ever been unable to appreciate the logic of those who affect to see grave danger in the missionary society but scruple not to form organizations for the purpose of caring for orphans, and teaching young men to be gospel preachers. Of course it is right for the church to care for the fatherless and widows in their affliction, but the work should be done by and through the church with the elders having the oversight thereof. (Guy N. Woods, ACC Lectures, 1939, p.54).

    B. Using commonly accepted terminology as employed in the quote above, the Scriptures shall be our authority in this study of institutionalism (2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Jn. 9; 1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17; Matt. 28:20).

Continue reading » Institutionalism

Living According to the Pattern

All people need to see that God has left us a pattern by which we can live our lives. This pattern is found in the Bible. Paul told the Colossians that whatever we do “in or word deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). When we understand that Christ’s authority extends to all parts of our life, we will be on our way to living as God wants us to live. In this article, I wish for us to consider the pattern that has been set forth in the Scripture for the work of the church.

First of all, let us understand that the local church has work to do. The Bible teaches that the church has a responsibility to proclaim the Word of God to a lost and dying world (1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Timothy 3:15). The church also has a responsibility to care for needy saints, and widows indeed (Romans 15:26; 1 Timothy 5:16). Lastly, the local church must provide for the edification of the saints (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 12:19).

Continue reading » Living According to the Pattern

Learning How to Discern God’s Will from the Apostles

The will of God is discernible from the Bible, for God has so revealed it in a way understandable to the mind of man (Ephesians 3:1-6; 5:1). To believe otherwise is to classify the Bible as a useless document and impugn the wisdom of God or His love. Did He not care enough to make His will known in an understandable fashion? Did He lack the power to do so?

Not only the content of the will of the Lord can be gained from a study of the Bible, but the very means by which the apostles set forth matters as authoritative, having the force of divine law, can also be learned from a study of their teaching. The apostles were designated by the Lord to be forever the teachers of the world; we must let them teach us how to discern the divine will.

Peter’s Trip To Caesarea

In harmony with His will that Gentiles be included in the kingdom of Christ, the Lord instructed Peter to teach Gentiles, though in an indirect way. Through the miraculous vision and the mandate to eat the various animals, the Lord was leading the apostle to understand the distinction between clean and unclean foods, as well as between Jew and Gentile, had been removed. He also provided the situation to which the lesson would be applied when the messengers from Cornelius arrived and the Spirit directed Peter to accompany them without any doubts or misgivings (Acts 10:20). Upon arrival at Cornelius’ house, Peter then explained the process that had led him to Caesarea, as well as the conclusion he had reached concerning the propriety of teaching the Gentiles.

Continue reading » Learning How to Discern God’s Will from the Apostles

Cogdill – Woods Debate

(Roy Cogdill’s First Affirmative)

Editor’s note: What appears below is a computer scanning of the first affirmative speech by Roy E. Cogdill in the Cogdill – Woods debate, also known as the Birmingham Debate, conducted in Birmingham, Alabama, November 18 – 23, 1957. The enhancements included in this publication highlight scripture quotations within the text. The other text enhancements appear in the original text. The Copyright from the book appears at the end of the article. Permission was sought from and granted by Mike Willis of the Guardian of Truth Foundation, which holds the copyright on the book, for this publication to be made. Our thanks are extended to brother Willis for his cooperation. This is a classic presentation that I wanted to have included in this issue of Watchman on the subject of institutionalism.


It is contrary to the scriptures for churches of Christ to build and maintain benevolent organizations for the care of the needy, such as Boles Home, Tipton Home, Tennessee Orphan Home, Childhaven, and other Orphan Homes and Homes for the Aged that are among us.

    AFFIRMATIVE: Roy E. Cogdill
    NEGATIVE: Guy N. Woods

Cogdill’s First Affirmative

Gentlemen moderators, brother Woods, ladies and gentlemen:

I am grateful for the good providence of God that has made it possible for us to assemble upon this occasion that we might study together his word. I am also very grateful for the presence of this good audience in spite of the storm and pray that it has done a minimum of damage, especially to those who are of the household of faith. We are glad that you are here and we are grateful for the fact that many brethren have come from all over the country to study these questions with us. Your presence at a sacrifice of time and money upon your part, many of you an extended sacrifice, indicates the great interest that you have in the issues that are involved in this discussion. An interest that I hope and pray is born of a desire to know the truth of Almighty God concerning these issues, that we may stand before him for that which is right and according to truth.

Continue reading » Cogdill – Woods Debate

Theme Editorial

It is August 1, 2001 when this issue of Watchman Magazine is published. Most who will read this article, but hopefully not all, are residents and citizens of the most affluent country in the history of the world, The United States of America. In the United States, we are protected by what I believe to be the greatest legal document produced by man in the history of the world, The Constitution of the United States, including its first ten Amendments, commonly called the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” No law is therefore allowed to prohibit the free exercise of religion. We have the freedom of religion. We are protected by law to follow our faith in whatever course that faith may direct us. That freedom we enjoy so much and for which so many have sacrificed even to the point of death to maintain allows us to make our own decisions in matters of faith. This is altogether good, as God will judge us on how we make those decisions. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Lest we forget, in our freedom, we owe our lives to God.

Continue reading » Theme Editorial

Associate Editorial: "But You’re Not Doing Anything"

(Editor’s Note: Brother Robert’s wrote this article for the West Side Weekly in November of 1972. We reprint the article now, as it parallels this month’s theme, and has a valid point to make.)

On various occasions, when I have had opportunity to talk with brethren in liberal churches, one of the recurring charges is that we have no right to charge apostasy against them because "you are not doing anything among yourselves." The implication is that the liberal churches are the only ones doing anything while the "conservative" (faithful) churches are dead and not doing any work at all.

But the charge needs closer investigation.

The idea that churches which oppose centralized control and institutions and the social gospel are dead is certainly not true and can be shown to be a false charge. But why does it seem this way to the liberals? What gives them the idea that we are not doing anything?

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: "But You’re Not Doing Anything"

The Social Gospel

The church needs to be “relevant” in our age. It needs to address the problems of our society, and be an agency of change to benefit mankind. This is a sentiment with which all agree. However, it is such a broad generalization that it allows for many different interpretations.

One such interpretation has led to the establishment of a “social” emphasis regarding the purpose and work of the church in the world today. Suggestions are made that the challenges of our culture and time are different from those in the past, and the church must change to meet those needs. I suppose that it is natural for each generation to think that its problems and needs are unique, and require unique solutions.

The “social gospel” mindset had its genesis in such thinking. Around 1900, theologically liberal thought among the various Protestant denominations led to a determination to innovatively deal with the peculiar problems of the emerging urban-industrial nations. This period of time between the Civil War and World War II was the genesis of one of the most influential religious movements in America’s history. Men felt the need to turn the United States into a modern utopia, and saw the church as a tool to bring about that change — hence the synthesis of the “social gospel.” When the advocate of the pure social gospel speaks of salvation, he is not referring to freedom from sin and the hope of eternal life, but rather freedom from poverty and misery on this earth. While we refer to the kingdom as the rule of the Christ, and the spiritual relationship with Him as the head; the “social gospel” apologist advocates the change of such a perception to that of a kingdom on earth. One early influential writer in this movement wrote, “The kingdom of God is a great social synthesis which includes the whole life of man, spiritual, moral, mental and physical; its field of manifestation is man’s personal, family, social, political and industrial relations.” Continue reading » The Social Gospel

White Unto Harvest: Missionary Work in the New Testament Churches

(From part of a series of lectures delivered at Abilene Christian College Lectureship in 1920. Originally appeared in Gospel Guardian, vol. 2, #33, p. 12)

The purpose of this address is to examine the New Testament record and see how New Testament churches conducted missionary work or the work of evangelizing the world. We shall see that, in the execution of their divine commission, the matter of supervision, management and control was in the local churches, where God himself placed it, and was never transferred to a general board. The authority divinely invested in the local church was everywhere strictly respected, which effectually blocked the way against the entanglements which have always marked the history of general ecclesiastical organizations in religion. We can see an exemplification of the work in the apostolic days by noting a series of facts. Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: Missionary Work in the New Testament Churches

Controversy in History

I. Introduction

    • TREND = line of development, direction of movement, drift, swing. Key thought: move (away from one thing to another, whether good or bad). Along with trends (away from biblical to non-biblical) are associated fads, novelty, and innovation, with apostasy being the culmination of the movement.
  • A. The purpose of this study is to give a brief overview of major controversy from New Testament days until now, so that we can better be able to see the basic, underlying principles of error which are responsible for apostasy, division, and resultant innovations. By looking at the past we can see where modern change agents are headed. We can look at trends today and know to what ends they will lead those who follow them.

    B. Rom. 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning”. We learn from the past.

Continue reading » Controversy in History