By Mackey W. Harden
As was noted in the first article of this series, the words warn and admonish are synonyms. They are used in many cases interchangeably. Whereas the KJV employs both words, other versions would not make a distinction and would use the word admonish. W.E. Vine defines it as: “to put in mind, admonish . . . It is used, (a) of instruction, (b) of warning.” He goes on to give an important distinction between admonish and teach. Mr. Vine says, “The difference between `admonish’ and `teach’ seems to be that, whereas the former has mainly ih view of things that are wrong and call for warning (emphasis mine, mwh), the latter has to do chiefly with the impartation of positive truth, cp. Col. 3:16.” “Admonition differs from remonstrance, in that the former is warning based on instruction (emphasis mine, mwh); the latter may be little more than expostulation.”
We glean from the writings of the apostle Paul, some admonitions that he gave to the Christians of the first century. These warnings and instructions will help us tremendously in our day-to-day struggle with the forces of evil. Paul wrote these admonitions in hopes of strengthening the spiritual lives of all Christians. People in the world today should realize a very important point about Paul, viz. he did not believe in the doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Paul knew he could fall, and that he needed to be very cautious lest he did! “But I keep under my body and bring it unto subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, l myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). If Paul (an apostle) had the fear of sinning so as to be lost, then you and I need to realize that we can, too. This should point out to us the importance of taking heed to Paul’s admonitions.
We are going to examine some “Biblical Admonitions” (in general) that Paul gives in the New Testament (KJV). In the articles to come we will entertain some specific admonitions and warnings.
(1) One another. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. And I myself am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Rom. 15:13-14). If we as Christians would admonish one another as we should, it would help us a great deal in fighting off temptations that cause us to fall. It is our responsibility to admonish one another as we strive for that eternal home. To the Christians at Colossae, Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly with all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
(2) Elders, preachers, and teachers. It is the responsibility of these men to admonish the local church. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you” (1 Thess. 5:12). Elders should employ admonishment as they exercise oversight of a local congregation of God’s people. Teachers should admonish their students in Bible classes-. Gospel preaching should be in such fashion as to admonish Christians to be faithful, and to be careful of the world and its lusts. Too many times there is not enough good, strong teaching and preaching going on in a congregation, to properly admonish the members to greater zeal and faithfulness.
(3) Christians who are disciplined. Paul had much to say in his two letters to the church at Thessalonica, concerning church discipline of those who walk disorderly. In closing out his. second letter he concludes by stating, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:14-15). The attitude that a congregation displays toward an erring brother or sister is of utmost importance. I fear that some who have church discipline exercised upon them are treated like an enemy. This should not be! Paul says that we are to admonish him or her (warn, instruct) to return to their rightful place in the church, because he is our brother and we are concerned about his soul.
(4) Fathers to children. We who are fathers have the responsibility to admonish our children concerning the Lord. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). We should discipline our children as we raise them, and also instruct them in the ways of the Lord Jesus. If we do not admonish our children about Jesus, but allow them to be trained in the ways of the world, we will surely lose them. If this responsibility was heeded by more fathers, we would not be having many serious problems with our teenagers being unfaithful to the Lord. How about it fathers?
(5) Heretics. Paul wrote Titus, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Tit. 3:10-11). According to Thayer’s lexicon a heretic is a false teacher. We are to admonish and warn false teachers to cease their divisive teachings. If they do not take heed to the first admonition, then we are to admonish them a second time. If he still continues to propagate false doctrine, then we are to reject him, which means to avoid association with him.
(6) Remember Old Testament Examples. In 1 Cor. 10, Paul reviews with the Corinthians some grevious mistakes that had been made by the children of Israel hundreds of years before. The reasoning behind this was to let their mistakes serve as examples to Christians, so that we will not fall prey to them, too. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Yes, we can learn from the mistakes of others. If we will look to the Old Testament Scriptures and study them, we can learn many things to help keep us from falling. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
Truth Magazine XXIV: 41, pp. 661-662
October 16, 1980