By W C. Sawyer
Often we hear people say they are tired of the constant fight put up by certain preachers of the church and that we should teach more on “love.” Possibly those who criticize strong negative teaching do not understand that Christ was the strongest teacher and practitioner of “love,” yet he rebuked anyone who departed from the plan of God. He believed it was necessary to engage in controversy, and when the Pharisees tried to entangle him in his talk (Matt. 22:15-18), he exposed their hypocrisy.
Throughout the old and new Testaments there has been controversy. David challenged Goliath. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18. Christ came to send a sword as recorded in Matt. 10:34-38. Stephen made a great stand for truth in Acts 6:8-15 which cost him his life. Paul took the enemies of Christ to task daily in the temple (Acts 17:17). We are commanded today to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). Could anyone say that those who took the enemy of Christ to task did not have “love”? When our Lord exposed error, did he have love for the souls of men? We must be sure that as we expose error that we do it because of the love for the truth and the souls of men rather than any personal feeling we may have toward an individual or group of people.
Apostasy comes so gradually that people will sometimes accept error for truth. Just recently I have attended a number of weddings in the Christian church. I am amazed at how far they have left principles that were very strong many years ago when the split came over missionary societies and instrumental music. Several times I have seen on a Friday or Saturday the Lord’s Supper served to the ones getting married, their court and the preacher. These things are done to make the service impressive. There is no place in the scripture where the Lord’s Supper was authorized to be taken except on the first day of the week.
When the Scribes and Pharisees brought accusation against the disciples of our Lord for not keeping the traditions under the Law, Christ had something to say about their hypocrisy. Verse 8 says: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”
It is very easy to see the error of others, but I am concerned about our own. I cannot see how those who ignore the plain teaching of Christ and His word can expect God to overlook their open rebellion. While we can see the mistakes of others, let us not lose sight of our own. There are things taught and practiced in the Lord’s house today that are just as bad as the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees under the law. Christ required them to repent and turn to God. Every member of the Lord’s church must repent of every sin in order to be saved.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:26; p. 6
May 2, 1974