By Gailen E. Evans
In order to support some modern claims that are being heard among the preachers of our day, some will be happy to hear that the following letter has been discovered in the ancient ruins of Corinth:
Paul the Apostle Spring, 57 A.D. Somewhere in Macedonia
Dear brother Paul,
We received the nice letter you wrote to us from Ephesus, and it was so good to hear from you. There is no doubt that we have problems here, but you know the changes do not take place overnight. While we fully intend to do what is right, we do not want to move too fast lest some might become discouraged.
In regard to your plans to return to Corinth this winter, we would like to make some requests of you. It is common knowledge that one of our good members is living in an unwholesome relationship with his stepmother. We are hoping that by continuing to have fellowship with them, rather than drawing any lines of fellow-ship, we will win them to the truth. For this reason we would appreciate it if you would refrain from preaching or teaching anything on the subject of sexual immorality when you are here the next time. We know that you will understand the awkward position you will put us in if you should happen to mention this in any of your lessons.
Yours for the sake of Love and Peace
for the church of God at Corinth
Surely finding this letter will bring great comfort to many today who are not ready to “draw the line” when it comes to false teaching. But we are sorry to say, that in going through the trash bins of Corinth, another letter was discovered! Apparently it was a letter sent between first and second Corinthians. Its contents are found below:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ unto the church of God which is at Corinth. My brethren, it obvious that you have not given careful attention to the fifth chapter of my last epistle (the one was 1 Corinthians at the top of the first page!) I told you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; in fact I said not even to eat with such a person. I was sure that you could understand from this that 1 was commanding you to cease from any familiar relationships with brethren who were endangering the purity of the church by their words and actions! I really didn’t think that my words were that difficult to understand. Now you tell me that you want to continue to have fellowship with one whose soul is destined to be lost, and who will encourage others to join him!
Do you remember when I was there in Corinth back in 52 and 53 and I wrote to the church at Thessalonica? You will recall that I told them not to have any company with those who refused to obey what we commanded in the epistles! Now I have written to you and commanded you to purge out the old leaven! Must I come in person to make this point any clearer? Just how do you expect to get a man to repent when you continue to have fellowship with him while he persists in such a sin? It is time for you to wake up to the fact that sin which is persisted in will of necessity draw the line between those who love our Lord and those who refuse to obey him!
It is your duty to deliver this one to Satan, that his spirit might be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus! Unless you are willing to carry this out, your soul may indeed be lost as well!
As for your request with regard to my preaching there in Corinth, I would like to remind you of a few important points. As a minister of the Gospel of Christ, it is my duty to declare the whole counsel of God to those whose souls may be in danger. I told the elders from Ephesus this in 52 before my last visit with you in Corinth. Now you are telling me not to preach on a subject that needs to be dealt with! What would you think if brother Luke was to come to Corinth, and start bandaging the fingers of those whose heads were bleeding? Would you consider him to be a capable physician? Think about our blessed Lord: when he went in-to the temple and the synagogues, he preached what was needed by those of whom he spoke. Remember what Matthew recorded in the 23rd chapter of his gospel? Jesus called the Scribes and the Pharisees hypocrites! He did not avoid dealing with the problem of sin that afflicted them! Now, how can you expect me to come to Corinth and ignore preaching on a subject that will eventually cause every member of that congregation to lose his soul? I am sorry, but unless you do as I have commanded before this winter, I will find it necessary to come and expose the sin that is being practiced and encouraged in the church there!
You may think that this seems harsh and that it would be much easier to continue in fellowship with people such as this, but somewhere in the next forty years, the Lord will inspire the beloved John to warn you not to lend encouragement to anyone who does not adhere to the doctrine of Christ! The reason is plain: if you encourage someone who is teaching false doctrine, or living in sin, you share in his guilt! Are you prepared to be held accountable for the actions of the immoral person in your midst?
May our God help you to stand boldly against all who would compromise his word, that you might stand blameless before him in judgment, and save the souls of those who may yet be captives of sin!
Your humble Servant in Christ,
Paul of Tarsus
Of course, neither of these letters was actually found, but the tenor of the letter from Corinth has some of the same “uncertain sounds” we are hearing from supposedly “sound brethren” today. And the letter from Paul certainly follows in the way Paul dealt with sin among brethren in his lifetime.
If Paul were writing a letter to the church where you worship, what would he have to say? Would he commend your preacher for not being “too controversial”? Would he commend you for allowing men to fill the pulpit who do not teach the truth on vital subjects such as divorce and remarriage? Be honest: Not being willing to “draw the line” is another way of saying you are not willing to honor the line that the Lord has already drawn. “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (I Kgs. 18:21). It is time for us to stand on the Lord’s side, and reject all who refuse to stand with him.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 9, p. 20-21
May 20, 1993