He being Dead, yet speaks…

ORGANIZED RELIGION VS. CHRISTIANITY

One of the greatest enemies Christianity now has or has ever had is organized religion. Jesus clearly foresaw and plainly foretold the great conflict between Christianity and organized religion: "They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that they doeth God service" (John 16:2). Every great religious awakening since John preached in the wilderness, or since Elijah was fed by the ravens in the woods, has been led by consecrated men and women who were ostracized and persecuted by religious people because the doctrine they preached was disintegrating to religious institutions. Religious people have committed nearly every crime in the catalogue of iniquity to build up, strengthen, and maintain organizations Christ never authorized. All denominational organizations use the power of organization against men and doctrine whenever the interests of organized religion demand it. They have to do this in self-defense. This explains why there is now, has always been, and always will be a conflict between Christianity and every form of ecclesiastical organization. There was no organization in Christianity during the New Testament-period but worshipping assemblies or local congregations, and there was little of what the world now calls organization in a local congregation. There was not an uninspired official dignitary in the whole kingdom of Heaven down to the close of the New Testament period greater or more honorable than elders or bishops in local congregations, and it is exceedingly problematical whether they were officers in the full sense which that term now bears. The Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel (I Cor. 9:14), but there were no fixed salaries or salaried positions in denominational organizations, great or small, in the kingdom of heaven, to constitute a boodle, breed corruption, and build up an ecclesiastical 'pie-brigade' on the hunt for easy jobs with big salaries and high honors. Jesus explained that there were no high places of official honors in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 20:25-26). This is but another way of saying the kingdom of God is not a denominational organization, but a holy life and a spiritual fellowship. The church is a spiritual body, and not a denominational organization.

All efforts to control and direct men and women in whom God, by the Holy Ghost, dwells and works, by organizations formed and directed by men, but unauthorized by the Holy Scriptures, are really efforts to control and direct God by human wisdom and authority. In its last analysis, it is an effort of men to govern God and make Him subservient to the vanities, caprices, and judgments, not to say the wickedness of frail humanity. God will not work under the dictation and authority of men, and to the extent people imbibe the spirit of organized religion they lose the power of the Holy Ghost. All forms of ecclesiastical organization are lacking in the power of individual piety and personal consecration, and this lack grows more apparent as the organizations grow older, stronger, more cumbersome, and come more fully under the spirit of organized religion. The tendency in them all is toward decay in personal consecration and individual piety. There are too many high honors, big salaries, costly edifices, and moneyed institutions and corporations in organized religion to harmonize with the spirit of the Man of Sorrows and the Friend of sinners, who had not where to lay his head.

Men who manage the complicated business affairs and the far-reaching financial schemes of denominational organizations have little time to take part in the work of individual evangelism. There is too much dependence upon organizations, and not enough emphasis upon personal consecration. The individual is lost in the institution.

Christianity has never prospered under the system of organized religion. The thorns of worldly vanity have always choked the seed and smothered the spirit of Christianity in ecclesiastical organizations. Periods of great revivalistic zeal and evangelistic fervor have always been seasons of individual effort and personal consecration, where men and women were unhampered by ecclesiastical organization.

It is exceedingly problematical whether any congregations of worshippers in the New Testament times so much as owned a house of any kind in which to hold their meetings, and certain that the house in which they worshipped was never called a church nor considered indispensable to the work and worship of the Lord. They did not build costly houses and wait for the people to come to fixed places of worship to hear the gospel in periodic sermons and receive the word in capsules of methodical discourses, but "they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." They were neither cranks nor fanatics, but they labored personally to convert men and women to Christ and lead them to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, rather than build up institutions and make proselytes to ecclesiastical organizations. They put the emphasis upon individual piety and personal worship and service to the Lord, rather than strong organizations and centralized institutions and corporations in religion. The spread of the gospel by such individual efforts and personal work, without any method of systematic organization, and against everything human ingenuity could do to prevent it, was the marvel of the age.

--F. D. Srygley, Biographies and Sermons