By Paul J. Casebolt
The people who did not attend the wedding feast all had different excuses. Yet, they all had one thing in common “And they all with one consent began to make excuse” (Lk. 14:18).
When viewed separately, each excuse may seem valid, especially by the one who made the excuse. But, when viewed together, all the excuses appear to be just that excuses. I marvel that we cannot see the weakness of our excuses, when they are placed alongside others with similar or identical characteristics.
Some questions and answers concerning various doctrinal positions will show that those who take these positions all have one thing in common an attempt at self-justification (Lk. 16:15).
Question: Why do some people say that there is no god, or if there ever were a God, that he is now dead?
Answer: Because if we admit that there is a God, then it is our duty to fear that God and keep his commandments (Eccl. 12:13,14).
Question: Why did Martin Luther deny the authenticity of the book of James, and reject it as being “spurious”?
Answer: Because James 2:14-26 (and especially v. 24), directly contradicted Luther’s theory that man is justified by “faith only.” And, if you reject a part of a chapter, what not reject it all? And if you reject a chapter, why not reject the whole book? We’ll see this attempt at consistency coming up again later. And a whole lot closer to home.
Question: Why do some religious groups says that the name “Christian” was given by the enemies of the church in mockery or derision, and not by the “mouth of the Lord”?
Answer: Because to admit that the name Christian was a fulfillment of prophecy (Isa. 62:2; 65:15); that it was given under the direction and approval of inspired apostles (Acts 14:14; 11:25-26); that it was later approved by the apostle Paul (Acts 26:28); and that it was sanctioned by Peter (1 Pet. 4;16), is to concede that such sectarian names as Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc., do not honor Christ, have no salvation attached to them (Acts 4:11,12), and violate the teaching of the Bible with respect to glorying in men (1 Cor. 1:12; 4:6).
Question: Why do some brethren now deny the principles of the Restoration Period of the 19th century, or even deny that there is any such thing as a restoration of the church’s identity as it existed in the first century?
Answer: Because to admit that the true order of things can be (and has been) restored, is to admit that some brethren and churches are not in harmony with those restoration principles. But to deny the principle and possibility of restoration is to deny the examples of Hezekiah and Josiah (2 Chron. 29-36), and that the seed of the kingdom is still capable of reproducing the kingdom of Christ at any given place and time (Lk. 8:11-15; 1 Pet. 1:23).
Question: Why do some deny that the local congregation should be fully organized with elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3:1-13), or that there is such a thing as a mission, work, or public assemblies for the church?
Answer: Because to admit such things would condemn those who have rebelled against duly established order and authority, have replaced it with preacher-led or other Diotrephes-led movements, and are forsaking assembling of themselves with faithful saints.
Question: Why do some deny that an approved apostolic example constitutes sufficient authority for a practice?
Answer: Because to admit such would be to admit that such apostolic examples as sending directly to the preacher in evangelism (Phil. 4:14-16), and sending to needy saints without the use of human benevolent societies or sponsoring church arrangements are still binding on us today.
And the reason some reject the apostolic example of observing the Lord’s supper “upon the first day of the week” is simply a half-hearted effort to be consistent after rejecting apostolic examples described in the passages mentioned above. I say half-hearted, because some have not yet rejected the example of Acts 20:7, some have done so reluctantly and privately, while those who believe that you “could” take the Lord’s supper on some other day, still do it on the first day of the week.
Question: Why have some in the past denied that the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are part of the New Testament?
Answer: Because they don’t believe that Matthew 19:9 should be applied to marriage/divorce/marriage situations in this dispensation of time. But, following the example of Martin Luther with respect to the Book of James, if you reject Matthew 19:9, you must reject the whole book of Matthew. And if you reject Matthew, you must be consistent and reject Mark, Luke, and John because they are similar in content to Matthew.
Question: Why do some deny that the alien sinner is accountable (or amenable) to the law of Christ?
Answer: In order to relax the laws of marriage/divorce/ remarriage toward those alien sinners who are involved in a manage relationship which cannot be justified by the law of Christ.
Question: Why are some brethren now demanding a “new hermeneutics” approach to the interpretation/application of the Scriptures?
Answer: Because the present and time-tested approach of direct command/approved apostolic example/necessary inference will not permit them to believe and do some of the things which are being advocated. And rather than make some of the same excuses listed above, or just throwaway the Bible entirely, they feel that they need to come up with some respectable approach that will justify what they have already decided they are going to do anyway.
Like the excuses for not attending the wedding feast, the above mentioned excuses for doing or not doing a thing are different, yet alike. When viewed separately, each may sound authentic to the one making the excuse, or to those around him.
Yet, when you look at that many excuses all at once, even those making the excuses will have to concede that “some” of them may not be valid, and certainly all of them cannot be, if we don’t like the company we are keeping, and do not want to be involved in “guilt by association,” then I would suggest that we stop trying to justify our-selves, our families, our friends, or some situation in a given congregation and act our doctrines and practices in harmony with the truth.
The Lord will not accept flimsy excuses for not attending the wedding feast and neither will we be blessed if we show up without a “wedding garment” (Matt. 22:11-14).
And if we can figure out what constitutes being espoused or married to Christ, and how to live a life of fidelity to him without committing spiritual fornication, we ought to be able to do the same with regard to marriage relationships here on this earth.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 12, p. 18-19
June 16, 1994