Idle silence

H. L. Bruce
Baytown, Texas

Ben Franklin is recorded as having said, "As we must account for every idle word, so we must for every idle silence." To quietly do or say nothing is to follow the course of least resistance. Tolerance to evil of his sons was the downfall of Eli (1 Sam. 2). Tacit submission to the wishes of the Jews caused King Saul to rebel at God's orders (1 Sam. 15).

John the Baptist was all but silent about Herod's sin (Matt. 14:4). Peter spake out and proposed the only solution for the Jews guilt (Acts 2:22-38). To the Corinthians, Paul more than once specifically wrote words of correction. Such was also written to the saints at Galatia (Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1). In giving information as to the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ said, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believed not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment because the prince of this world is judged" (John 16:8-11). The apostles made the fact manifest that the Holy Spirit was given to neither idle words nor silence.

The sectarian world has influenced many members of the church with their philosophy of "idle silence" with regard to sin and error. God forbid that we be so addicted. "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5: 11). "Wherefore rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith" (Tit. 1:13). "These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee" (Tit. 2:15). "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables" (2 Tim. 4:1-4). "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (1 Tim. 5: 20). These orders, admonitions, warnings and exhortations all have to do with sin, error and corruption existing both in the world and in the church. With regard to all the facets in the maze of inculcated heresies we are to be vocal in opposition.

The philosophy of drifting and voice of apostasy thrive on idle silence. Abundant are the wishes of the drifters from the truth that their errors go unopposed. Pedant philosophers with an air of erudition and superiority are ambitious to move the church gradually from the truth with acquiescence and verbal approval of all saints. Idle silence was a valuable tool to the promoters of the Missionary Society. It served its purpose in the introduction of the piano into the worship. Today, if liberal brethren could promote unopposed, they would be far more happy and could speed the step in their march through the avenues of sectarianism.

Loyal brethren today, who may have an ambitious one among them, who became idly silent to any drifting disposition, are at the river's mouth of apostasy, ready to float out into the sea of digression. Loyal brethren let's face the facts, we cannot be indifferent to drifting trends and retain our stability as loyal people of God. It is important that we retain cautiousness, coupled with stern alertness, to any impending drift from the New Testament order. Our vigil must never cease.

Truth Magazine IX: 11, pp. 15-16
August 1965