The Danger Of Silence

Paul called the Ephesian elders down to Miletus and gave them some sobering instructions. What were these instructions? “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29,30) Where would the danger originate? From within the flock.

In Peter’s second epistle, he gave a similar warning. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

If we understand these two passages, it should cause us to see the danger of false teaching. Sadly, many congregations of the Lord’s church wait too long before taking action. Error takes hold. How could it be prevented? “These were more fair-minder than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Also read John 4:1.

Church members need to be concerned and to listen to what they are being taught! If more brethren were more serious about this, the church would be much sounder. Why aren’t we learning from the lessons of the past? Remember Pergamos. What did the Lord have against her? “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus, you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:14,15)

This church tolerated false teachers and the error they taught! Instead of opposing the false teaching, they allowed it to take root and spread throughout the church. Simply put, they compromised truth. Why did they remain silent? We do not know. What reason could any church have for allowing error to take root? Following are a few I’ve heard.

• “We don’t want to hurt feelings.” Should we have more concern for the souls of the listeners, and of the false teacher, or for their feelings.
• “We need to be longsuffering.” Certainly, no one denies the need to be longsuffering. But how longsuffering should we be when souls are at stake? Read Galatians 2:3.
• “We cannot all agree on any point of truth.” During the past few years, this has been the cry of some of our brethren. Can we no longe understand truth? ***

Bob Dodson

Raccoon John Smith on Baptism

John “Raccoon” Smith was a (pioneer) gospel preacher from Wayne County, Kentucky, near Albany. He was completely converted to Christ and to the idea of restoring religion to nothing more than one finds in the New Testament. He was ardent in opposing the practice of baptizing infants. He had a practice of digging steps down to the water’s edge at the place where he immersed those who desired to obey the gospel. A Methodist preacher happened to be in the crowd on a particular day when Smith was baptizing people. Smith learned of his presence and came up out of the water and forcibly took the Methodist preacher by the arms and led him toward the water. The Methodist preacher strongly protested. “What, in the name of sense, are you doing Sir!” “Why, I intend on baptizing you, Sir”, Smith replied. “But I do not want to be baptized by you, Sir.” Smith responded, “You believe in the Lord, do you not?” “Of course, I do.” Then, come along, Sir. Believers must be baptized. ” “But it is against my will. I do not want to be immersed. It will be of no value at all. Please let me go,” the reluctant preacher begged. At this point, Smith held his victim firmly and with a voice loud enough for the entire crowd to hear said, “Did you not, this very last Sunday, baptize a helpless baby against its will, although it shrank from your touch and kicked against your baptism? Did you get its consent first, Sir?” With a powerful grip he pulled the preacher closer to the water’s edge. The preacher’s protests grew more frantic until at last, Smith released the poor man. Smith then said, “You think, Sir, that it is all right to baptize others by violence when you have the physical power to do it; but, when you yourself are made to be the unwilling subject, you say it is wrong and will do no good. You may go for the present. But, (addressing the audience) brethren and friends, let me know if he ever again baptizes others without their full consent; for you yourselves have heard him declare that such a baptism cannot possibly do any good.

Taken from a book titled: Life of Elder John Smith

What Is Truth?

“That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9 NAS95). When, in about 977BC, Solomon penned these now famous words, I doubt he understood how true would these words ring almost 3000 years later.
It has been said that we must continue to evolve and that we are faced with things in this generation that no one before has ever had to face. There may be a certain amount of truth in this statement, in regard to the specifics of the situation, but there is no truth in it as to the general relationship it bears with those of the past.
One such example can be found in what is believed today. When Jesus was taken before Pilate He made this statement in response to one of Pilate’s questions, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37 NAS95). Pilate’s reply reflects the attitude of so many in their study of God’s word. He said, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 NAS95), as if it was not possible to know for certain where truth lies. We have been told for so many years that because of upbringing, cultural differences and economic diversity, no one can really know for certain what is truth. Many in the Lord’s church have now come to accept the idea as being a fact.
Many now see the Bible as a good guide, but do not recognize that it is absolute in its truth. They teach that we must allow each to interpret the Bible in light of their own experiences and come to an understanding that is in line with their background. Yet these same people will readily accept that when teaching mathematics, for example, truth is not reliant on one’s background, but is instead absolute, and must be understood by all alike.
The Bible is no different. Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in Your truth. Your word is truth.” What God says is not dependent on how I was brought up or what I was taught to believe. It is dependent on what God intended for us to understand. Jesus also said in John 8:24, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” If truth is relevant, how can it ever set us free from our sins? If God expects His people to, “all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10), we must be able to discern truth alike.
The apostle Paul said, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,” (Eph. 3:1-4 NAS95). You see how Paul says that the Ephesian brethren would be able to know the mystery that he himself knew by reading what he had written. If each one put a different meaning on the truth that Paul had written, they would not understand what was written, but would be following their own desires. If truth is relevant, why did Paul say it could be understood alike?
Peter conveyed much the same thought in his second letter. Knowing that he did not have much longer to live he said this, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” (2 Peter 1:12-15 NAS95). The reminder of these things was, of course, the letters he had written.
We could continue this journey through the word of God to show that the inspired writers believed we could and would understand what truth is, but Jude 3 may be the most telling of all the passages we could look at. Jude wrote, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Jude says the faith was delivered once. That does not leave room for my interpretation or that of anyone else either. If it was once delivered, then it can not be delivered again, which means it is not going to change over time.
Pilate’s question still lingers over the centuries, with some wanting to give the answer, “Who knows?” But God has left us the truth in the words penned by the inspired writers and we can know if we have the truth or not, by honestly comparing what we believe with what God says in His word. Can two disagree as to what the word of God says? Certainly, but only to the point of studying until they come to agreement with the word of God. Remember “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33). Therefore the confusion over what God’s word says, must come from man. Let us always strive to conform to the will of God rather than our own will.

Jack Critchfield

The Majority Rules

Written by Christopher Mentzer

Introduction
When something is put to the vote; be it business or among friends, it is usually the majority vote that wins. Even in politics the majority vote is victorious. But should it be that way in the world of religion? Should God’s people strive for the majority instead of a unanimous vote?
Send thou men…every one a ruler…
I think back to the book of Numbers when God told Moses to send men into Canaan to spy out the land (Numbers 13: 1-3). Moses chose the heads of each of the 12 tribes of Israel to see if the land was worthwhile and what kind of people dwelled there (Vs. 4-20).
Being heads of each tribe, and members of God’s people, you would think that once they spied out the land that they would be able to possess with little resistance. After all, they’d seen the power of God displayed by the ten plagues while in Egypt (Exodus 7-13).
However, these people were expert complainers! After leaving Egypt (Ex. 14: 10-12), when they came to Marah (Ex. 15: 23-24), when they entered the wilderness of Sin (Ex. 16: 1-3), and others. They had relied so much on the Egyptians to feed and care for them that they didn’t know what it was like to rely upon themselves. It didn’t matter to them that they were used as slave labor; they had food, water, and shelter they could depend upon. But the big disappointment about the Israelites was that they were being cared for by God and they couldn’t see it.
 
40 Days later…
After the 12 men spied out the land, they returned 40 days later; bringing with them the fruit (Num. 13: 24) of the land. They approached Moses, Aaron, and the whole congregation to give their report (vs 26-29). At first, the report seemed positive as they stated that the land flowed with milk and honey (figure of speech). Then in verse 28 it begins with ‘Nevertheless’ (KJV) which is a fancy way of saying, ‘but’. Then the negative side of the report took up the rest of the time as they described the inhabitants as being the Children of Anak (also referred to as the ‘Nephilim’) and walled cities.
But Caleb, one of the 12 said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (vs. 30). He was silenced by the others as a negative report was given to the people (vs. 31-33). Caleb could see things differently as he knew they had God on their side. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough because the people listened to the majority instead. They held Moses and Aaron responsible and decided to choose a new captain and return to Egypt (Num. 14: 1-4). Joshua and Caleb pleaded further saying if it was God’s Will, they would be able to inhabit the land (Vs. 6-9). And God stepped in and said in verse 11, “…How long will this people despise me? and how long will they not believe in me, for all the signs which I have wrought among them?” (ASV)
 
The Price of listening to the majority
In the end, God spared the people who murmured against Him but charged them to wander the wilderness for the next forty years until those who were against him died off. Leaving only Joshua, Caleb, and the offspring to enter into the promise land (Vs. 28-38).
Listening to the majority is not always the right thing to do. In the religious world today, the majority is almost always followed. For example: The Sinner’s Prayer is enough for Salvation, The Pope is the ultimate authority of the church on Earth, believing the bible is God’s sole source of authority is optional, and others.
God should be our sole authority (Matt. 28: 18) and it can be found in the bible (2 Tim. 3: 16-17). We can learn from the two spies who gave a good report because they supported what God wanted in the first place.
 
Conclusion
If someone is in the minority of the group in regards to how things should be done, instead of simply saying, “Sorry, majority rules,” ask them why they stand against the group and find a way to convince them to change their mind or allow yourselves to change to the ones who stood alone. The decisions should be made according to what God needs not what Man wants.