by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXV

June, 1946

Number 11

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

We are told, concerning the ecclesia in Antioch, that they ministered to the Lord and fasted.  Fasting was usually engaged in when people were in trouble.  In what difficulty did that ecclesia find itself? 

The answer is found, I think, in the statement, "—prophets and teachers, both Barnabas and Simeon, called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian, besides Manaen, the tetrarch Herod's foster brother, and Saul,"  Acts 13:1.  In plain American language, they had too many preachers.  

And what confusion a surplus of preachers can cause!

Let us never forget that "God is not for turbulence, but peace, as in all the ecclesias of the saints," First Corinthians 14:33.

I have been blessed.  Through hard work, God has enabled me to gather saints into several ecclesias, and to now minister to them as teacher.  No one has ever tried to root me out, and take over the work.. We have visiting teachers from time to time, but each one has regarded himself as a guest, and not as "pastor" of the ecclesias where I serve.  I am grateful for this.  It could be otherwise. Almost any man could get his eye on my work, and it would not be hard for him to create in the minds of some, a feeling of discontent.  By sly insinuations he could show some of the saints that they need another teacher.  I thank God that no one has tried it.  

Not every ecclesia or class has been thus fortunate.  My work is too small for anyone to covet.  But there are places where surplus teachers desire to have a finger in the pie, and they have caused sad dissensions.  

There is no harm in a class or an ecclesia having more than one teacher, if they respect each other, and neither one tries to monopolize the work.  I am thinking of the situation in Los Angeles, California, where both Brother A. E. Knoch and Brother David Mann speak at practically every meeting.  Each supplements the other, and one keep up a certain grade of teaching, and the other another, and there is never any conflict in what they are doing.  In that case each needs the other, and the saints are benefited.  Perfect love and trust exist between them, and neither tries to supplant the other.  

Evidently this was not the case in Antioch.  There is evidence that confusion reigned.  Else, why were they fasting?  This can be the case anywhere, when one thinks he is "called" to supplant the teacher, or to succeed him.  

In this economy fasting is not in order, but prayer is.  And seeing that the Lord answered the prayers of the Antioch saints, (for prayers were always connected with fasting), it would be in order for saints in every place where there is a surplus of "preachers," to call earnestly on the Lord to stop the confusion.  

However, in the case of ecclesias today, the answer is ready.  It is recorded that the holy spirit said to the ecclesia in Antioch, "Sever, by all means, to Me, Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."  And the ecclesia sent them away.  Much as we love Saul, there is reason to believe that, in Antioch, he and Barnabas were a curse, rather than a blessing, to the saints. After the ecclesia sent them away, and they began the work to which they had been called, Saul became Paul.  

Ecclesias have the same authority today.  When a teacher persists in serving in a place that is already supplied, thus causing confusion, the holy spirit has already said, in the passage just quoted, "Send him away, and tell him to get to work somewhere else."  This principle of not having many teachers, James 3:1, while enunciated in the Circumcision writings, is good for any time and people.  Its wisdom is evident. 

There is great need for evangelism.  Much valuable time is lost when teachers congregate in one place and squabble over the matter of speaking to congregations already supplied. Certain ethics should be considered. Who built up the ecclesia in this place? Do the saints want him to continue speaking to them?  If any are opposed to him, did I cause the dissatisfaction?  Can I feel comfortable, building on another man's foundation?  Would I not feel better if I built up a work of my own, if i want to be a "pastor?"  Does not both the Scripture and common courtesy demand that seniority be considered in such matters? 

Millions of people need the truth.  Can a teacher think he is pleasing the Lord if he neglects them?  

When it comes to teaching, God works through one man—not through many in one place.  The itinerary of Barnabas was at an end, (or should have been), when he and Paul had finished their first missionary tour.  When they tried to continue the alliance they got into confusion, Acts 15:39.  what ever alliance Paul formed after that, was of a different order.  He chose Silas to accompany him, but both recognized that Paul was to be the dominant figure.  Silas was his helper, not his boss.  A helper can be a helper, only if he is helpful.  What Paul suggested, Silas did.  There was no stubbornness about it.  Never did he get the idea that he knew more than Paul, and the thought of being Paul's "successor" did not enter his mind.  

I have said many times that I need helpers.  What I mean is, there is call after call for evangelistic work, and I do not have time to respond. I need other teachers, not to take over the work I am doing, but to go out and do work like it, in other places.  

Then there is the matter of succession.  Outstanding leaders have no successors.  Others can come after them and work according to what light they have, but no one can carry on the work of another. When he dies his job is finished.  Brother C. T. Russell was a seeker after truth, and brought out many pleasant facts that had been hidden under the pile of rubbish and tradition that religion had heaped on the scripture.  But Russell died.  Did anyone continue him work?  His "successor" made havoc of what had been done.  But many who were blessed under the "pastor," have been doing work of their own, trying to be a blessing to humanity.  

God is greatly blessing Brother Knoch in his search for truth.  He has given us the very best translation of the "New Testament," and is at work on the Hebrew Scriptures.  No one will succeed him in this work.  He who tries will probably play havoc.  Thousands will be benefited through Brother Knoch's work, and will use the Concordant Version to the blessing of others.  Evangelists, pastors and teachers, who cannot make the Version, can use it the glory of God, if they will be content to be just humble users of the grand work that God used Brother Knoch to give us.  

In the matters of helpers, let it be noted that, while Paul sometimes used the names of others, coupled with his own, in the beginning of his epistles, he, nevertheless, signed his own name at the close, as in Second Thessalonians 3:17.  Not he and the others, but he alone, is the author.  Those who object to "one man," should take this into consideration.  

And as to succession, no one succeeded Paul in the sense that he did the work the apostle had been doing.  This is true of lesser leaders.  Who took up and "carried on" the work of Luther, of Wesley, or Whitefield, and Knox? Many have used the works of these great leaders, and have, as teachers, been of much benefit to others.  But when these leaders died, their work was finished.  

There is need for spreading out.  The same blessing that came to us when we first became aware of the doctrine of the reconciliation of al, will come to others if we go out and tell the story to them.  I plead for evangelism.  It is one of the great needs of the hour.  

I am sometimes met by the remark, "God places His teachers where He wants them to be." Well, He didn't in the case of Barnabas and Saul, until the saints said to them in effect; "Get out and get busy!  Too many in one place breeds trouble."  

It is not a crime to beg teachers to spread out.  Those who are thus implored ought not to take it as a effort to control them.  We have the word of God on our side, when we ask them to "Go."  The word of God is against them when they persist in staying where the need is already supplied.  

In our great cities, in small towns, in rural districts, meetings could be held in halls, in cottages, in the woods, if teachers were willing to endure privations and do some real laborious work.  I have a right to say this, for I have done it.  Here in Glennville the ecclesia is the result of holding meetings in the open, under a brush arbor, for many weary months.  The thriving congregation at Midway in Emanuel county started with meetings in the woods. We now nave a meeting house, which is filled to capacity at almost every meeting.  

In Augusta, we have used a hired hall all the while.  In Hagan we use whatever building is available.  

Knowing the value of evangelism, I again plead with the brethren, to not congregate where they cause trouble.  Go out and have the satisfaction of starting at the bottom. 

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