By Robert C. Welch
Change from wrong to right is necessary. When a person insists upon the importance of never changing, his consistency is the kind Emerson spoke of as the hobgoblin of little minds. But I should be certain that I am in the wrong before I change. And I need to be sure that I am in the right and not changing to wrong. According to some people, even some of my brethren, alas even some of my preaching brethren, I have been in the wrong in some of my actions and teaching. These are the things about which I ask the question, must I change?
Must I change the wording of my marriage ceremony? I have been in the habit of having couples who are not Christians to pledge that they will live together after God’s ordinance so long as they both shall live. But some of my brethren are telling me that God’s ordinance of marriage does not apply to those who are not Christians. They are telling me that it does not matter if aliens to the kingdom of Christ divorce for any cause and marry other people. They reason that the laws of God apply only to Christians. If their argument is correct then I must leave God out of the ceremony and merely pronounce them husband and wife according to the law of the state. But who can believe it? That divorce and remarriage is violation of God’s law, just the same as murderers and liars, and all will be found in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8) unless they repent (2 Pet. 3:9). 1 do not plan on changing.
Must I change my preaching on the necessity of repentance? For fifty-five years I have been preaching that children of God who sin must repent of their sins in order to be forgiven and be in fellowship with God. But in these days I am being told by some of my brethren that so long as my general spiritual demeanor and health is good, that these few and incidental sins are taken care of by the Lord. Thus they would have me change my preaching, assuring the hearers that they do not need to be concerned about those inadvertent lies, lascivious looks, words and acts, occasional social drinks, innocent (?) dances or provocative poses and dress. They will be assured that the Lord will cover these “little” sins so long as they worship regularly. Oh, I can almost hear them shout that that is not what they mean. But that is what the hearers, who want to do these things anyhow, will get from such teaching. And all along I have been teaching that the Lord makes no distinction between sins, that his word insists that sin be repented of in order to forgiveness. No, until I am shown otherwise from the Scriptures I am not planning on changing my teaching, to please the compromisers.
Must I change my view and teaching that the Scriptures are inerrant, and that they are written for our time as well as the first century. A lot of people and some brethren are deciding that some things were written only for that time, though it is not so stated and the context does not so teach. Paul gave some teaching and spiritual advice about what to do in “the present distress” (1 Cor. 7:26). So I know that this does not directly apply to these days even though the principles involved may have application. He wrote concerning the use of spiritual gifts, but elsewhere points out that such gifts would not last (1 Cor. 13:8-10). Therefore I understand that such specific instruction does not apply to me. But I am not to conclude that the Bible is an outdated set of words to be taken or left at my own whim. My faith in God and his word as the incorruptible and eternal word (1 Pet. 1:23-25) is such that pratings of skeptics will not cause me to change my teaching on the matter.
Must I change my thinking and teaching on the matter of fellowship with immoral people and teachers of false doctrine, or those whose practices are in addition to and contradictory to the teaching’of the New Testament? For fiftyfive years I have been preaching that the church (including each member) is not to have fellowship with such. But there are those who suggest that just so long as I do not do these things then I can worship with, work with, and have social concourse with those who do them. It appears that they would insist that if they had an idol in their worship, that so long as I did not worship the idol I could go right along. The Bible teaches that I am not to so endorse sin and error (2 John 9-11). No, I am not considering changing my thinking, teaching and practice in this matter. “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 3, pp. 65, 87
February 2, 1989