By Olen Holderby
Those who remain quiet in the name of “peace” have forgotten the “gospel of peace.”
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly con- tend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The Williams Translation says, “Carry on a vigorous defense of the faith.”
The word “faith” as used here refers to the gospel — that which was “delivered unto the saints.” We may acquire a personal faith for ourselves (Rom. 10:17). Jude, then, is instructing every Christian to be vigorous in the defense of the gospel. No Christian can be neutral, where the truths of the gospel are concerned, without sinning. It makes absolutely no difference at all who is involved; when truth and right are under consideration the Christian must take his stand for the truth or be an enemy of the same.
I was recently discussing the “issues” with a brother who was serving as an elder in a local church, and he claimed to be sound in the faith. He insisted that the problems of institutionalism should not ever be mentioned publicly unless someone made an issue of them. When I pressed him on this matter, he said, “No sin should be mentioned until someone makes an issue of it.” I asked, “What sins does your preacher preach against?” His reply was, “You will have to ask him.” I did not have to wonder any longer how it was that some attending where he served did not know the truth concerning those things which he, himself, admitted to be wrong.
Neutrality comes in different forms. “Silence” is often a form of neutrality; though, “the middle-of -the-road” may be a more frequently used expression. Regardless of the form in which it may come, neutrality concerning truth is sin. John said, “Dearly beloved, stop believing every so-called spiritual utterance, but keep testing them to see whether they come from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, Williams Translation). Those who remain quiet in the name of “peace” have forgotten the “gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). Paul told the Philippian Christians to strive together for the faith (gospel) and to not be terrified by adversaries (Phil. 1:27-28). The Lord commended the church at Ephesus for exposing the true character of the false teachers (Rev. 2:2). Jesus declared that those who were not with him, and those not gathering together with him were scattering abroad (Matt.12:30). The silent neutral person merely lends support to error and, in reality, assists in corrupting the church for which Jesus died (Eph. 5:25).
Read Galatians 5:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. It is difficult for me to believe the brother mentioned above does not want such sins publicly or privately condemned. However, this would be consistent with his idea of not condemning the sins involved in supporting the institutional orphan homes and the “Herald of Truth.” Brethren who sit silently by and raise no objections when the church builds kitchens, dining rooms, recreational facilities, arranges for social functions, sponsors scout troops or youth camps, and many other like things, are permitting sin to get a greater hold on the minds of those involved. In order to be free from the blood of all men, teachers of God’s Word must declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). When are those in such positions ever going to learn this lesson? He who handles the word of God deceitfully (2 Cor. 4:2) is treading the path of apostasy. This cowardly path of neutrality is packed hard by the feet of them who have betrayed the Son of God, even if they do walk it in apparent pride. They have ignored the example of Jesus (Matt. 23), and they have rejected the commands of his gospel.
Being patient, kind, considerate, and understanding does not preclude our putting up a “vigorous defense of the faith.” Let every teacher read 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and let every elder read Ezekiel 33:7-9, and let both heed the instructions there, carefully! May God help us all to “declare” ourselves for our own justification (Isa. 43:26), and for those who may hear (1 Tim. 4:16).