We acknowledge the passing of time in noting that one day, some will be writing a history of the church of our day, and they’ll be looking back into “old history.” When that “old history” is written, focusing on the church of our time, surely there will be a great deal of praise for the congregational lectureships we now see. In view of the drift away from fundamental Bible truths in our day, and in the concern that many had for the future state of the kingdom, congregations in various parts of the nation began to hold their annual lecture series. I do not believe I am overstating the case in venturing that the truths brought forth in these lectureships has been the saving of the church from apostasy – that part of the church that could, and would, be warned.
Lest someone jump with the accusation that I said that the credit should be given congregations, and men, I hasten to point out again that I said the TRUTHS – truths of God – there proclaimed have been the church’s salvation. We now mention two or three things along that line:
(1) The lectureships have meant much in informing the memberships, locally. Growth comes through the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2), and if God’s people are to know and grow, and become all that God would have them be, knowledge must dispel ignorance (Hosea 4:6). I have never attended any sessions, in any of our lectureships, without having gained some Bible knowledge.
(2) The lectureships have meant much in informing brethren far from the hosting congregation. They come from near and far, and that same information given to the benefit of the local church is then through those attending, taken home to benefit many congregations. Through the printed word, and then through audio and video cassettes, the messages are sent throughout the land and abroad. The hosting congregations know that they have “sounded out the word of the Lord” to distant places (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
(3) The lectureships have meant much in the warnings given. There is the Biblical focus on the times in which the Bible’s books were written, but also a focus on the problems, trials, afflictions of our own day. Various movements, from Crossroads/Boston, to the efforts to merge with the Christian Church, to the issue of abortion, to the attempts to introduce the mechanical instrument into worship, etc. are dealt with, giving a “thus saith the Lord,” and brethren are warned of dangers. The lectureships have served to wake some up from their spiritual sleep, and have, through the truths presented, served to thus forewarn and forearm the saints as to the fight that will be brought to their congregational doorsteps.
(4) The lectureships have meant much in the warnings given, especially, to elders in the church. There is no more direct benefit, that can be realized in any quicker fashion, than to have the eldership informed and warned – if they then will take care of their duties. They are charged with feeding (Acts 20:28) and watching over (Hebrews 13:17) the flock of God. They, of all people, should be informed and thus warned. No congregation ever spends any better money than in providing the expense, if it is needed, for its elders to attend these lectureships. In so many cases, no money would be needed, but the congregation should be encouraging its elders to take advantage of these opportunities.
(5) Also, we dare not forget the preachers. The lectureships have meant much to them, again in informing and warning, but also in providing encouragement. Those who are young, and perhaps in their first works, need such encouragement, and it is wonderful to hear how problems and situations were dealt with successfully, and it is of great aid to these younger men. They need the association with those who are older and more experienced, and the value of such is beyond calculation. Congregations and elders, encourage and assist these young men in their endeavors to be informed and thus of greater service in the kingdom!
Those are some of the benefits we think of as we view the congregational lectureships now underway. Many can look back and ask, “When would I have known of this problem, or how to handle this particular issue, if I had not been given the material at these lectures?” Naturally, I run the risk of some stating, “Well, he is ‘high’ on them because Southwest has a lectureship, and naturally he would promote them!” If such is said, we’ll endure that, but we will point to the items above, (1) through (5), and know that these cannot be denied. These were true, and I realized them, long, long before the first Southwest lectureship. And, if the Southwest lectures were to be closed down tomorrow, the points would still be true concerning all other faithful lectures. Again, these events have brought forth truths to the saving of the kingdom in our time!