By Word or Our Epistle

By P.J. Casebolt

The danger of following human traditions is clearly and amply emphasized in the Bible (Matt. 15:3; Gal. 1:14). But Paul enjoined the Thessalonian brethren to “hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2 Thess. 2:15).

At first, the gospel was preached by word of mouth (Mk. 16:20). Miraculous confirmation was needed in order to lend authenticity to the spoken word (Heb. 2:1-4). The apostle Peter saw the need for a permanent (written) revelation, and endeavored to provide that permanent record for use after his “decrease” (2 Pet. 1:15). The Holy Spirit was given to the apostles both for confirmation of the spoken word, and later for the written word (2 Tim. 3:16,17).

The proponents of false doctrine have long recognized the effectiveness of the written word, and have used that medium to disseminate their false teaching. We need to place as much emphasis on our efforts and opportunities to use the printed pageas a means of teaching the truth and counteracting false doctrine.

It is said of Abel’s faith and offering, “… and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). Not only does our example speak long after we are gone from this earth, but what we write can also continue to speak on our behalf, and to the salvation of other souls. This fact was impressed upon me during my recent trip to preach the gospel in the Philippines (February/March 1993).

In recent years, several able and influential Filipino preachers have departed this life. Some have died of natural causes, and at least one was murdered. Among the most recent of these voices stilled by death was that of Vic Tibayan. There was an emptiness felt not only in the Manila area, but also throughout the islands, because of the stilled voice of this able proclaimer and defender of the truth.

Because of Vic’s death, and because my visits to the islands are infrequent, I decided to let one remaining influence for good know that I and others appreciate his efforts. In Pagadian, I laid my hand on the shoulder of brother Ramon Carino, Sr., and told him that his work and labors were appreciated by me and by many, and that we wished for him many more years of faithful service in the Lord’s cause. Without hesitation, Remon replied, “To God be the glory.” But then I prevailed upon Ramon to tell me how he was converted from error to the truth.

At the time of his conversion, brother Carino was effective, and like Saul of Tarsus, “profiting” in his denominational religion. Ramon was also a Japanese prisoner of war for several months, and the story of his life would make good reading. More than one factor contributed to his conversion, but the main thing which caused Ramon to wrestle with his religious convictions was a tract handed to him by a Filipino brother. The tract was written by brother Luther Blackmon, who has been dead for several years. Luther Blackmon was probably still living when R.G. Carino read his tract, but I do not think that the two ever met. I do not know if Luther ever knew about the influence his tract had on brother Carino or not. But brother Carino knows, and now I know. And so does the Lord.

For good or for bad, what we do, what we say, and yes, what we write, speaks long after we are gone. So think, speak, act, and write as those who are conscious of this fact.

Guardian of Truth XXXVII, No. 23, p. 7
December 2, 1993