WHAT KIND OF ORGANIZATION DOES GOD WANT?
By: Rev. T.F. Tenney
The phone rang. It was a good friend from another district. His call was probably the fourth or fifth inquiry I’ve had in the last
couple of weeks about the same subject. “I hear,” he stated, that a group of 100 brethren…” (where the number comes from I’ll
never know but it was always the same) “…are going to Conference with a lot of legislation to change the course of our
organization. They say we’re too strict and they’re going to make it more liberal.” After hearing it out I said, “Yes, I have heard
this several times in the last week and I don’t believe it. Number one, I don’t believe that any such meeting for any such purpose
was held. Number two, if it was held, resolutions are sent out sixty days before and we’ll all know. Number three, if such
resolutions do come out I along with many others, will be on be front row – `booted, spurred and ready to ride’ – during the
business sessions. The good men and women of God who are part of this movement have no intentions of allowing it to follow the Pied Piper liberal theologians that have led others astray.’
My good friend then wanted to know where I thought this came from. I really don’t know, but it appears that some people enjoy making straw men and then shooting at them for fodder in fellowship meetings and various conferences. It makes good preaching
regardless of the fact that it may well not be true.
On the other hand, we do not want a movement to be so restrictive that it does not allow brethren with different viewpoints on
particular Scriptures not to abide together in peace. Our forefathers very wisely gave us a strong message in our Articles of Faith when they said, “We will not contend for our different views to the disunity of the body.” As old Brother M.J. Wolff often said, “You can have your say but you may not get your way.” A free expression and exchange of ideas and philosophies and interpretation of Scriptures helps keep all of us on the main course. I don’t want an organization that will not allow free expression on every side of any issue.
Every now and then some “Chicken Little” will run through the ecclesiastical barnyard shouting, “The sky is falling!” Usually,
he is only reflecting the small, minute acorn know on top of his head. His nostrils will be flared and his eyes will look like two
fried eggs as he declares, “Everything is going to the hogs and dogs!” I’ve been hearing that through forty-three years of
preaching. However, I honestly believe that the Good Ship Zion is in better shape today than it’s been in many years. We have men of strong convictions, Biblical convictions, who love God and love the truth. We have men who are kind enough and thoughtful enough to make room for brethren who may not dot every “i” and cross every “t” like they do. I do not want organization that will not allow this type of free expression and I refuse to jump on every bandwagon that comes along. But what about the issues? There’s always been an issue. Some people belong to the “Issue of the Month Club” in the United Pentecostal Church. Many church fracases in the number of years of my institutional work have taught me that the issue is never the issue. Control is the issue. There is usually a small clique in every church that wants control. They will use almost any issue to obtain it. It seems if all else fails, they can always find something wrong with the preacher. I want an organization that is strong enough to assist in such melees as that. I believe we have one. I don’t want us to produce a toothless tiger.
We need an organization that recognizes the principles of the first chapter of Revelation. The Lord Jesus dealt with every one
of the seven churches in a different manner. To the church at Ephesus, He was the One that held the seven stars and walked
(among them). He told them that they (had) left their first love. To the church at Smyria, He said that He knew the blasphemy of
them that said they were Jews. To the church at Pergamos, He was the sharp sword with two edges. He warned them of the doctrine of Baalam. On and on I could go. Each of the churches had distinct personalities and distinct needs. Never once did He talk about numbers. He never said, “Thyatira, why didn’t you have as many in Sunday School as Symria?” Numbers alone are not indicative of a true New Testament body. Churches are different; they have different personalities; their pastors lead with different methodology. Churches may even have some slight doctrinal differences, but they are still churches and Jesus recognizes
them. I want an organization that will do the same and will give the same liberty of operation to its pastors.
* I do not want what Dr. Phillips called, “a church that’s overstuffed and muscle-bound by its over-organization, a church that will proudly line up the saints of the Book of Acts and talk of their wonders while they align on the other side saints of subsequent ages to dry out in the sun of their ecclesiastical drudgery. I want a church that believes “He is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Yes, there will always be critics of such a church. And there will always be critics of the mavericks who might arise in those churches. If you are ever going to obey the mandate of God, you are going to have to endure the ankle-bites of lesser men.
There are always those who find it easier to sit in the bleachers and talk about how it should have been done than to sweat it out
on the playing field. Yes, error will come from time-to-time, but given opportunity, the Body of Christ has proven over and over
again that it will cleanse itself. There are Scriptural methods of discipline laid down in the Book. I want an organization that will
let these methods operate and that they will be operated by men who do not have a hidden agenda.
I will never forget years ago hearing a man speak of a fellow pastor. He said, “We’ll get him under Article VII.” What he was
referring to was Article VII of our Constitution which deals with ministerial obligation. I cringed when I heard that. Should we
ever speak of “getting” another brother? Even our discipline should be for redemption and not punishment.
We must learn afresh to celebrate our diversity. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not all positive; it’s not all negative. It takes
both of them for power. A church that only talks about the positive will soon find that what is unpreached will be unpracticed. Those that enjoy the hammerholds of the negatives will find that you can get people together on a negative, but you can’t keep them together.
* I want an organization that loves holiness – true, Biblical holiness and righteousness – where, in the midst of changing
cultures, men can look at the issue that confront the Church and with prayerful hearts address them one by one. I don’t want an
organization filled with the lawyers of Christ’s time. The lawyers were not those who interpreted the law. They gathered around them people who had like schools of thought. They paid the lawyers to give them their particular interpretations. Cliques and cults rose up around them. We would call them congregations today. They really didn’t love the Scriptures, they just loved their
interpretation of the Scriptures. And, in order to keep their following, they had top continually clatter about how right they were and how wrong the other lawyers might be. I heard one man say one time, “The church taught me how to systematically hate
people.” That should never be. We must always realize that we are brothers (and sisters) but we are not identical twins.
* I want an organization that constantly exalts the Lordship of Jesus, contends for the faith without being contentious, speaks
the truth in love. That is necessary. If you have love without truth you have sentimentality. If you have truth without love it
leads to legalism. We don’t want either. Farmers are not remembered for how many weeds they kill, but for how many bushels of wheat they produce. I want to be a producer. I do not want to be among those who split hairs and then re-hair the splits. I’ve
seen enough arrogant pulpiteers riding the high horse. Remember this, Paul was riding a high horse when he got knocked off and saw a vision. We need tremendous power encounters such as this that can reveal not only the doctrine of error but men of error. The Apostle John told us to try the Spirits. I believe that you not only listen closely to what the man says, but try the spirit of
the man that says it. His spirit must be as truthful as his message.
* I want an organization where the pure presence of Jesus and the dynamics of the Holy Spirit will be the climate. In such a climate the Caspar Milquetoast mentality of easy-believism and anything-goes will not feel comfortable at all. They will soon be excelling the speed of the sons of Sce’va (Acts 19:14) as they run from the realization that they have spoken things without knowledge of the source of its power. This just won’t work in the presence of a real devil today. You not only need the Word of truth, you need the man of truth.
* I want an organization that will let me have true friends – not because of a card, but because of a bond and unity in Christ.
Someone said, “I have three kinds of friends: those who love me – they teach me tenderness; those who hate me – they teach me
forgiveness and those who are indifferent to me – they teach me self-reliance.” Everyone of us needs true friends – friends who will commend us when we are right and confront us when we are wrong.
May God bless the United Pentecostal Church and keep it the organization that brings glory to our Lord Jesus. May it continue
to be an organization that preaches New Testament truth, that lifts up the Apostolic message and lets men of different personalities have free reins to express the Gospel through their unique personality.
(The above material appeared in the June 1992 issue of The Pentecostal Messenger.)
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