Sharing in the Defense of the Gospel
Paul thanked God for brethren who share "in the defense and confirmation of the gospel" (Phil. 1:7). Brethren today should know what a great encouragement this is! For those who do not know me, let me explain my background and why I love those who share in the defense of the gospel. My heritage is from India and I was born a Hindu in Georgetown, British Columbia (now Guiana). In America, I was with the Baptists, the Catholics, and the Jehovah's Witnesses until I learned the true gospel of Christ. I could not rest until beginning to preach the gospel because I know what it means to be lost in the darkness of sin and error!
I have been working with the Church of Christ in Vauxhall since August 1981, which is near South Orange, New Jersey. We are a small group meeting in Millburn Mall, but we are "set for the defense of the gospel" and we are striving to spread it in every way possible (Phil. 1:17, 27). This area is like Smyrna, which had "the synagogue of Satan," and like Pergamos, which had "Satan's seat" (Rev. 2:9, 13). Still, we try to fight the good fight of faith in a manner pleasing and acceptable to God, desiring to follow the footsteps of our Lord in saving the lost.
We use church ads (articles) in local newspapers in an effort to reach people with the truth and to expose error like Christ and the apostles did. We are giving people of this area book, chapter, and verse for our teaching. The responses of some people are hostile and abusive. My life has been threatened with language which cannot be printed here. I have been told to go back to India. Yet, I cannot complain because our trials cannot compare to the sufferings of our Lord, his apostles, and the first-century Christians from whom we get strength and comfort.
I thank God for the sound teaching published in the Guardian of Truth magazine. The ideas and contents of this material are useful for the articles we put in several newspapers in Union and Essex counties. Often, the stand we take on such things as homosexuality, Catholicism, and denominationalism is unpopular, but our teaching is noticed by many readers and it leads to many responses and discussions.
Exposing the Error of the Pope
For instance, in June 1995 we ran our column named "Let the Bible Speak" in The Star-Ledger, and in about 12 other papers owned by Worrall Community Newspapers (such as The Clark Eagle, Kenilworth Leader, etc.). The material was borrowed from Ron Halbrook, "The Pope: Man of the Year Needs to Read Eternal Word," Guardian of Truth, April 20, 1995, page 242. Our headline read, "The Man of the Year needs God's eternal word as his `Spiritual Compass.' There was much reaction to the article from several communities where all of these newspapers go.
Even Tom Canavan, Editor-in-Chief of Worrall Community Newspapers, wrote a special editorial, "From the Editor's Notebook" (June 8, 1995). He told about the church of Christ meeting in Vauxhall and our articles. He explained our right under the U.S. Constitution to teach the Bible. He quoted this part of our article on the Pope,
Yes, the Pope takes some good stands against abortion and divorce, but the Pope cannot serve as a true "moral and spiritual compass" because his teaching is a flagrant violation of the gospel of Christ. Any man who lives in open rebellion against God's Word nullifies any claim to moral leadership. It is a tragic commentary on our time that such a man could be considered a "moral compass."
Then, Mr. Canavan tried to answer the truth! After objecting to the idea that one "path is the only path," he said,
Persaud sounds like he has an insecurity. His ad sounds like he is someone who cannot attract followers based on his own church's merits and needs to mar the beliefs of another church instead.
The Editor-in-Chief does not see his own contradictions. He is teaching that the only path is the path that says there are many paths! Why does he object to me teaching only one path is right when actually he teaches the same principle, just a different path? Does he have an insecurity, since he disagreed with our article? Did Jesus and his apostles have insecurities when they exposed error? Can't Mr. Canavan attract people to his belief based on its own merits without marring the message of the church of Christ? If "insecurity" must explain my review of someone's teaching, then "insecurity" must explain Mr. Canavan's review of my teaching. Such contradictions are obvious!
It gets even more interesting. Mr. Canavan explained,
The ad had an impact. In Kenilworth, one of our news-papers that published the ad, parishioners of St. Theresa's Church called to tell us not to cover an event Monday night at the church because they were very offended by the ad and did not want representation from our Kenilworth Leader.
C. This is not personal, but a matter of the TRUTH. I found the Pope's religion and teaching out of harmony with the Bible. In fact, Bible history and secular history have proven that Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are apostasy from Truth, foretold in the Bible (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Cor. 11:12-13; Matt. 24:23-25).
Therefore, as a Gospel Preacher and a follower of Christ, I will not compromise or patronize the truth for peace or friends, but continue to expose error. We are committed to teach the Bible (Jn. 8:32), in love for God, love for Truth, and love for souls.
Mr. Canavan suggested the protesters send letters to the editor since "the views expressed in the ad do not reflect the views of the newspaper."
In addition, I received letters from a priest and a man who described himself as "a recent college graduate in Catholic Theology and Philosophy. . . who is preparing to begin studies for the priesthood."
Discouraged? No, Encouraged!
Are we discouraged by the response of Mr. Canavan? No, brethren, we are greatly encouraged! 1. By calling attention to the church and to our ads, the Editor-in-Chief actually gave us free advertising more effective than we can purchase! 2. By quoting certain parts of our article on the Pope, he caused the truth to be heard again in many places with no expense to us! 3. His editorial proves that though we are small in numbers, the truth we teach is being heard far and wide! 4. The Catholics could not defend them-selves with an appeal to truth, and made no attempt to do so, but only tried to use protest and pressure to shut us up. This also sends a message to our readers which is very important: They can see who appeals to the truth of God's Word and who does not! 5. Mr. Canavan still accepts my articles and admits that I am gaining the respect of the readers because of my strong appeal to truth and morality.
This occasion gave me the opportunity to send him the following thoughts, so as to make an appeal to his soul:
Dear Mr. Canavan:
In reference to "From the Editor's Notebook" dated Thursday, 8th June, 1995, it matters little to me how you judge me. Sir, first, I respectfully invite you to "Examine the Bible," the word of Jehovah God.
A. Many people were offended when Jesus spoke the truth. They rejected him, hated him, and crucified him because he told the truth (read Matt. 15:1-14; In. 15:18-25; Matt. 27:20-26).
B. Jesus teaching the truth caused division, conflicts, and sufferings even among loved ones. The Bible teaches that friends and families became enemies for the sake of Christ (read Matt. 10:34-37; Lk. 12:51-43; In. 7:12; 9:16; 10:19-21).
God's Word Will Not Return Void
I could give other examples of doors which have opened for us to teach the truth, and the many responses we get, even including threats on our lives. We are patiently preaching and defending the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, being confident of this one thing: God has promised that his Word will not return unto him void, but it will accomplish his purpose and he will give the increase according to his will (Isa. 55:10-11; 1 Cor. 3:6). We thank God and take courage because the writers in the Guardian of Truth share with us in the preaching and defense of the truth.
Brethren, please continue your good efforts because this is helping us in our efforts, so that souls may be saved and God may be glorified!
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 24, p. 10-11