The Burning House

By Terry F. Sanders

The story is often told in the newspapers and news reports. It is a story of tragedy in which we all are touched with sadness. It seems that a house somewhere caught on fire. In the house was a typical family of four – a father, a mother, a son, and a daughter. The house burns to the ground, a tragedy. Yet, if the house burns to the ground with the family still inside, it is a tragedy of greater proportions.

To make a point, let me add some details to this story. While the house is burning, the family remains inside. The fire department, police, and other people involved in fighting the fire begin to cry out, “Come out of the house! Escape while you can! Get out now!” The family then comes to the window and shakes their heads and reply, “No, we will remain inside the house and fight the fire from the inside! If we come out now we could do little good. So we will remain here and do what good we can inside!”

How tragic! How pathetic! To think of the foolishness of that family remaining inside a burning house and actually thinking they were doing the correct thing. While this story is imagined (to the best of my knowledge and the sincerest of my hopes), another similar story is quite true. The story goes something like this:

A family is attending some church where unscriptural teachings and/or practices are holding forth. Their “house is on fire,” so to speak. Perhaps many others have identified the problem and found out that it could not be headed off. Perhaps these same ones left. They are attending elsewhere at a place where people believe in following the New Testament as a pattern for all things. They turn to those left behind and cry out, “Wherefore, come ye out from among them, and be ye separate (emphasis mine, tfs), saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17). Those who are left behind reply, “No, we will remain here and work from the inside! We will do what good we can! We will remain although we do not approve of some of the things going on here!”

How sad! How inexcusable! To think that people recognize error and then stay among it when they can easily see that the die is set. So many times the excuses are pathetic. “We have many friends here, our children like it here, we have some family here,” etc. And let us not forget the best one, “It doesn’t make any difference anyway!” Since when did any one thing that a church did or taught not make any difference to God? Isn’t God interested in what we do? I think so.

Can you see the sad end in both of these stories? The family that stayed in the burning house perished unnecessarily. The family that stayed in the apostate church will be, I fear, woefully lacking in the day of judgment. Because the Lord says to be separate, they will have no reason for remaining and fellowshipping what they know to be wrong. Staying inside to fight error might seem to be a noble thing, but it would be a terrible price to pay for such with your soul and the souls of your family.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). Think about staying in a place of danger, but don’t think very long. Salvation is now (2 Cor. 6:2).

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 4, p. 117
February 21, 1991