The Misused Examples (Symbols)

R. C. Long
Jerry City, Ohio

In the Holy Scriptures, from the first writings to the last, there are to be found continually being used parables and metaphors. When used in the scriptures by the great Teacher of all, they are all in harmony. The figurative language always agrees with the facts. Today, I find many in their teachings and writings are misusing these things, whether in ignorance or with full knowledge of what they are doing I know not, but I do know that it is being misused. A parable can be used as a similitude of a factual message or it can be used to speak the truth in a way that only those who wish the truth may understand what is being said. A metaphor is a word used figuratively in the place of the actual word. An example of this is the use of "light" to speak of Jesus: "As the Light came to this world." In the Holy Scripture the use of these words are always used in the right manner so we can always know what any writer is speaking of; they always use them the same way.

The most often misused parables is the one way or road. We find in Psalms 16:10-11, speaking here of Jesus, that His Body or Soul would not be left in the grave to see corruption, but that unto Him would be shown the path of life which leads to God. In John 14:6 Jesus said that "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." Here we find metaphors being used: "the way, the truth, the life"--so when we say the way to eternal life, the way is Jesus. Here we learn that we cannot get on the Path or Road that leads to eternal life except we enter through the door (Jesus). Up to this point my brothers in Christ speak the same. From here the pathway broadens. In Matt. 7:13-14 "Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: BECAUSE straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

Here is where the brothers have misused their parables or metaphors. They take a man on a narrow path and say he should be broadminded. But to correspond to the use of a metaphor or parable he should say he is narrow-minded when he is on a narrow path. I use the word "narrow" here as used in the scripture (compressed), our thoughts being as narrow as the commands of the Lord. We are bound or compressed, held to just the things authorized by Christ.

Since the pathway that leads to eternal life is narrow, it must be realized that it is no simple task to stay on the path. We will have to work and concentrate on the path ahead or we can fall off. Here is what really grieves me, that as narrow as this path is and with just enough room that we can place our feet upon it, there are busy at present those who are in the process of building a fence down the middle of this narrow path. I guess from what I hear that the construction is already under way, for I heard recently where there are some of the brethren who have already crawled up and are at present sitting on this fence. On this already restricted path there are new obstructions being built which have almost shut off the ability of most, especially those weak in the faith, of ever obtaining eternal life.

Think what this fence would look like to God. This narrow path, with its fence running down the center, with the brethren standing on each side facing one another, holding on to the fence and barely enough room left on either side of the fence for them to get a toe hold. Even at best, in this condition the brethren will have to go into eternal life sideways, for to face eternal life would be to fall off the road.

Except in some religious way, I have no knowledge at all of any of the highway departments building any fences in the middle of their roads. The fences are always placed on either side of the path or road. So it is my conviction when we make a parable with road and the fence we also should place our fences to each side of the path or road to eternal life so that any who are sitting on the fences will know they have left the Path. It would also leave us with the thought that those who walk in the middle of the road are exactly half way between either fence. For to follow Christ there can be no fence sitting, since Jesus said we can be either for him or against him, there is no in-between. He said in the Book of Revelation that he would that we be either hot (having a burning desire) or cold for if we be lukewarm (fence sitters) he would spew us out.

So let us once more make our parables conform to the teaching in the scriptures so that we all may know where you stand in regards to the Christ. If I be truthful with the brethren where I stand then, if I am wrong, I have the hope of being corrected before I am lost forever. But if I never choose between right and wrong, then we can only look forward to being spewed out. In Eph. 6: 13 "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND." We have to stand for truth (Christ), for we cannot compromise.

Truth Magazine VII: 11, pp. 13-14, 24
August 1963