By Ron Halbrook
We are to teach and admonish one another, but each one of us must constantly examine and re-examine himself to be sure that he is abiding in the gospel of Christ. Some brethren at Corinth who were under the influence of false teaching set themselves up to challenge the apostle Paul and to test him by the standard of a carnal mind. The false teachers judged Paul harshly for such things as changing his travel plans, not accepting financial support from Corinth while preaching there, and an apparent lack of polish in his personal appearance or presentation as a speaker.
Those who tested Paul by means of such tangents and side issues conveniently overlooked the decisive facts which proved Paul was a genuine apostle of Christ. It was Paul who had revealed the gospel to the Corinthians and taught them from the beginning (1 Cor. 4:15). He proved the message was not his own but was sent from God by producing signs, wonders, and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). In contrast to the sleight-of-hand methods, dishonest maneuvers, and carnal manipulations practiced by the false teachers, Paul had been scrupulously honest and sincere, open and above aboard, both in his method of teaching and manner of life (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2; 8:21). The false teachers were great braggarts and trusted in their own shrewdness, whereas Paul openly acknowledged his weakness in the flesh and his utter dependence on the strength of the Lord (2 Cor. 10:12; 12:7-10).
Paul turned the tables on those who so meticulously questioned and tested him when he suggested that it was high time they tested themselves. No matter how awkward and unsophisticated they might think Paul to be, they had best be sure they could pass the test of truth in the sight of the Lord.
Ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth (2 Cor. 13:3,5,7-8).
If we fail the test of truth, we destroy ourselves rather than the truth, and Christ is not in us. To demand of other a thorough investigation when we ourselves are failing the test of truth and right is to be counterfeit or reprobate in the faith.
Testing the Tester, Examining the Examiner
The Examiner edited by Charles Holt has been long and loud in challenging and testing brethren on a wide range of issues. While we are willing to be tested concerning anything we preach and practice, it is high time the peculiar views advocated by The Examiner be tested. This special issue of the Guardian of Truth is devoted to the theme “Examining the Examiner.”
We have repeatedly received requests that we make some material available analyzing the doctrines of Charles Holt and The Examiner. A brother in Missouri called to say this error was causing serious trouble in his area. A young preacher in Florida asked for some material because members of the church there are being infected with these errors. Recently a church in Texas was suddenly flooded with copies of The Examiner. Those who are pushing and pressing the peculiar positions of The Examiner are creating doubt and confusion rather than strength and stability.
The first issue of The Examiner said, “The Examiner is scheduled for a five-year life-span. . . . If it should last that long, it will then cease” (Jan. 1986, p. 2). As the paper nears the end of its fifth year, Charles Holt pleads with “the readers to provide the finances necessary to keep it going and growing in circulation. . . . We ask and we hope to receive adequate funds to continue and enlarge this valuable work” (July 1990, p. 28). While we do not want to overreact to this menace, neither do we believe that dangerous error will just go away if we ignore it. Our aim is to examine The Examiner in the light of Scripture. We want to be fair and objective, to speak the truth in love, and to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
We have every confidence that the power of truth will overcome the doubt and confusion generated by The Examiner. Competent preachers have been chosen to outline key truths taught in God’s Word in contrast to key errors propagated by The Examiner. We shall emphasize the importance of speaking the truth in love and the imperative of Bible teaching on the local church, including the eldership, the assembly, and the treasury. The Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc. will be examined, along with the false concept of unity-in-diversity advocated in The Examiner. The claim of non-sectarian faith and the charge of institutional religion will be considered. The pernicious effects of The Examiner will be discussed, including worldliness, ship-wrecks of the faith, misguided writers, and the fruits of unsound teaching.
Truth In Love, Not Traditionalism
Satan tries to intimidate and silence those who fight error with such charges as “nothing but a preacher’s fight,” “traditionalism,” “a political machine,” and “trying to run the brotherhood.” Error flatters itself with the false claim of “independent thought,” implying that faithful men are blind tradition-mongers. Each writer who has participated in this issue of the Guardian of Truth is an independent student of God’s Word and makes his appeal to that Word rather than to human traditions. There has been no effort on the part of any of these men to create or exercise a brotherhoodwide power, mechanism, or machine of any kind.
Brother James W. Adams closes his keynote article on “Speaking the Truth in Love” with these worcis, ‘What I have written are solely my sentiments . . . . I wisit to be held accountable for only that which I personally say.” Every faithful teacher, every contributor to this series shares that ground. Each writer stands before God alone with an open Bible in an effort to learn and to teach accurately what the Bible says. Wherein they stand united, it is not because of human collaboration or traditionalism but because we can and must understand the Bible alike. As our readers study this material, let them in like manner present themselves before God with wa open Bible in a sincere desire to learn the truth without allegiance to any man, paper, or human brotherhood.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 19, pp. 577, 607
October 4, 1990