Fight of Faith or Needless Controversy
(Tape one, side one begins here. The portion of this transcript in which the subject matter moves on - from the general topic of Matters of Faith vs. Needless Controversy to the current controversy that concerns the second putting away – begins on page 16. Look for the green writing, which prefaces the section, jhb.)
“…see each of you this evening. I ask you to open your Bibles, if you will, to I Timothy chapter 6, I Timothy chapter 6, and we’ll be there in just a few moments. I have enjoyed my stay here in West Virginia, as I’ve said before, on this Lord’s day, it’s the first time that I’ve come to this state to a preach the Gospel and I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to be here, had so many people who’ve ah, been so kind and hospitable to me throughout this time. Starting with Mo and Judy and through everybody’s house I’ve been to, and how-ah kind you have been.
The only problem I’ve had during this week is that I’m supposed to be on Weight Watchers, and ah, when I return home and my wife asks me, ‘what happened to you?,’ then she’s going to be mad at two people, me and Judy’s supposed to be a Weight Watcher leader. So she’s going to be saying, ‘what in the world happened to you when you were there?’
But at any rate, I tell ya, I’ve enjoyed the stay and all of the good hospitality, the good food, and more than that, the good association, as we’ve joined together to talk about things that are spiritual in nature. It’s a great thing, when we’re able to share with those who are of like-precious faith, who love the Lord, who love His truth. And that we join together and we’ve not known one another before, we’re introduced to others who care about truth, who care about the Lord, and they want to do the things that are right. And I’m persuaded that’s the way it is, that I’ve been surrounded with people this week, and I want to thank you for that.
In the 6th chapter of I Timothy, and in verse 12, we’re going to take the starting point for our lesson tonight, on the difference between the good fight of faith and needless controversy. Every time that we have a period of time where there is a kind of a tolerance, that starts to be the watch word, we see a dual problem that exists, and the problem that exists is something where, on the one hand, there is a desire to fight nothing. A desire in which we’re going to tolerate everything, a desire where there is somehow the idea to compromise, even with realms that we ought to have no compromise with.
And the other side of the coin, where there is a reaction to that which then tends toward an over-reaction with some, I’m afraid, and that is a needless dispute. The kind of situations where not only is there a good fight of faith that needs to be fought, but there is a dispute that takes place with regard to opinions and judgments, and matters that ought not to divide the people of God. That has always been a problem among God’s people. That always will be, because people who are trying to do what’s right, will always try to recognize the distinction between the two, and what we want to try to do this evening is to try to look at some principles from the word of God.
Most of us would say, is there a fight that needs to be fought, almost anyone who would call themselves a brother or sister in Christ would say, absolutely, there’s a fight that needs to be fought. And almost all, certainly, that I know of, among faithful brethren in Christ, when we ask, ‘is there a fight that does not need to be fought, is there a needless dispute that must be avoided?,’ they’ll say, ‘yes.’ Sometimes when we look at our lives and examine things, what happens is we recognize that either we’re tending toward putting almost everything in that realm of ‘let’s tolerate it, let’s not discuss it, let’s not have any problem over it,’ or on the other side, “Let’s fight about everything.’ The two of ‘em need to be quelled. Those extremes are ones that the word of God clearly and forcefully condemns.
In I Corinthians-or in-ah the-ah defining the spirit of our age, first off, the defining spirit of our age, I think, for the last generation really has been a tolerance of evil, a disdain for religious and righteous controversy. As we look round about us, we see a world that has been overwhelmed with compromise that is of a moral nature.
For the last eight years before the current occupant of the White House was there, there were such shameful things coming out of Washington D.C. and out of the White House that I dare not even speak of them in this place. It seemed as if there was a scarlet A that was emblazoned upon our garment, as a nation and somehow, people failed to see it as a source of shame. Instead, they looked at it as a fashion statement, at almost like, somehow it was looked at among those in Europe, they weren’t so prudish about all of these things, and they were more open, and they were more accepting, surely we ought to be like them. And more and more, it became in vogue to have a calling of that which is good, evil, and evil, good. The word of God very clearly condemns that, and it says we must indeed fight.
In I Timothy chapter 6, there is a point that’s made in verse 12, ‘fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on life eternal, whereunto thou was called and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.’ I want to notice with you tonight, there are several points to this. We don’t have time to get into all of them, but when we talk about the necessity to fight the good fight of faith, it is only going to be a good fight, it is, if it is of the faith. That fight which has to do with my opinion or your opinion, that which has to do with something that’s needless in its controversy, is not good. And I, therefore, am not commanded to fight that fight and neither are you. We are indeed commanded to fight a good fight that is defined by the faith, the faith, which is once for all delivered unto the saints, and we’re going to note that repeatedly.
Over in I Timothy chapter 1, that same point is made, ‘This charge, I commut-, commit unto thee, my child Timothy.’ According to what? Paul says, ‘according to the prophecies which led the way to thee.’ Think about that. How was it that he was t-d to determine what he was to do? He said, ‘I commit to you a charge, the charge that I commit to you is according to the prophecies which led the way to you; they show you the direction that you ought to live, that by them, thou mayest,’ do what? ‘Thou mayest war the good warfare.” Holding what? ‘Holding faith and a good conscience, which some, having thrust from them, made shipwreck concerning the faith, of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered unto Satan that they might be taught not to blaspheme.’
What does it mean to blaspheme? Hymenaeus and Alexander had blasphemed, in that they had spoken against something, that’s what the word blaspheme means, in its most basic point. It has to do with that which is a speaking against. When Hymenaeus and Alexander spoke against something, what they spoke against was the faith, the prophecies of scripture that led the way to the child of God, and instead of doing that which was right according to the truth, that which stood upon the scripture, that which looked to the gospel of God, they looked unto something else. The author of that was Satan. Why? Because anything that does not come from God, any realm that’s bound as that which is of a necessity in religious matters, that does not come from God, comes from Satan. So the point is made, when you fail to live in a way that was directed by the prophecies of God, the faith, the gospel, the law of God, the truth, then you were living in a way that was against that, you were blaspheming it, you spoke against it. Now, Timothy’s told, ‘you don’t do that; you point out the fact that when men stray from the truth and they speak in a way contrary to the truth, they blaspheme it.’ Folks, that’s what its called. It’s not a matter that is like, when we look at that which is from God and we speak against that, by their adding to it or subtracting from it – that’s never a matter to be tolerated among the people of God.
In II Timothy chapter 1, or II Timothy chapter 4, pardon me, in verses 1-8, Paul points out this same charge in his second epistle, but adds a little bit to the point. He says, ‘I charge thee in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead by His appearing in His kingdom,’ do what? ‘Preach the word, be urgent in season, out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching, for the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside, unto fables.’ Now, hold it right there. You see the difference between those two? There is something that’s called the truth; there is something that’s called fables.
That which is fables has to do with that which is of man. It’s not merely the idea of a fable, if you’ve got something out here that’s like Aesop’s Fables. The point is, it’s something that purports to be of truth, but is not. It is something that vies with the truth, presents itself along an equal plane, and yet is not.
Let me give an application of that before we go on. We find many people, who instead of coming up to a pulpit and quoting book, chapter and verse, and talking about what the word of God says, and pointing out scripture, and again and again and again showing, ‘this is what the Bible says,’ will come up and give a little story. They say, ‘you know, you don’t want to cool people off by fanning through the scriptures.’
I’ve heard that, not just from people out there in the denominational world. That’s a quote from a fellow who was supposedly a gospel preacher in a non-institutional church of the Lord and Savior. ‘Don’t fan ‘em off or don’t cool them off by fanning through the scriptures.’ His idea was, ‘Use two or three, don’t use any more than that.’ What do you use instead of that? ‘Well, if you use an illustration out here and a story, that’ll captivate, that’ll get their interest more. If you use a joke over here, that’s wonderful too, because they’ll listen to a joke, more than you reading a passage. Or if you get some story that’ll touch their heart and tug at their emotional strings, and cause them to cry, then that’ll be a whole lot better than if you read some of that dull scripture over there.’
Now, brethren in Christ recognize that for what it is. That’s something that vies instead of the scripture. It replaces the will of God and puts in its place that which is a way of man. Now there isn’t a one who would claim to be a brother or sister in Christ who’s trying to hold to the old paths, I don’t think, that would go for that kind of thinking here tonight. But brethren, anytime we either add to or subtract from the word of God, we’re teaching something that vies with the truth of God. It replaces it, whatever the well-intention may be. It’s that which goes away from the truth.
He says, ‘what do you do?’ ‘You turned aside, these people are turning aside their ears from the truth, turning aside unto fables,’ what do you do about that, Timothy? ‘Be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. For I am already being offered and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course,’ I have what? ‘I have kept the faith, henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them that have loved his appearing.”
There’s a promise of a crown of righteousness in the end, only to those who have kept ‘the faith.’ Not kept some of it, not kept all of it and then added some more to it, but those who have kept ‘the faith.’ That’s what the word of God says, and that’s what we must have the fighting for, is that truth.
That good fight, however, is not a needless dispute of words. And that’s what I want to focus in on this evening, as we try to note the difference between the two. The good fight of faith and the needless dispute of words is seen in several different ways. When we look in the Word of God, ‘the faith’ is contrasted with our opinions. It’s contrasted with the way of man and the thinking of man.
The issue should always be on what the faith says, never upon what my opinion is, what I think, something that’s not found in the revelation of scripture. Those points are made very clearly in several passages that would distinguish the differ-ah the difference, and they help us to see that difficult path, that’s often hard for man.
When we distinguish between the differences that need to be had and the differences that don’t need to be had, that which is the good fight of faith and the needless disputes, there’s always going to be some problem. Now, what we want to do is try to turn to passages like I Timothy chapter 6:3-5, where it’s pointed out that there is such a thing as disputes of words that bring strife and we ought not to have. We’re going to turn there in just a minute and look at that more fully.
The same wording is used in II Timothy 2:14-16, where he talks about striving to words, about words to no profit. There is clearly something there, that there’s something we’re to strive for, something we’re to contend for, something for which we are to do battle, to have the fight, and something that we’re not supposed to do that about. Now, what’s the difference between the two? That’s what we’re going to do, as we take a little bit of closer look at these passages for a while, tonight.
I’m going to apologize beforehand, because I think we’re probably going to go a bit overtime. I want to warn you about that. But what I want to do, is to give a good foundation from the passages that say, ‘here are the principles that are involved.’ I told somebody that before I got started this evening, I said, ‘I’m going to be in a going a little bit of overtime,’ and they said, ‘what’s new?’ But I thought, ‘well, you know, I guess I’ve set the stage for that, so no problem.’ But the idea is, we want to look very clearly at what the scripture’s saying.
The differences that we need to distinguish are ones that we need to ask ourselves some questions. Is it so that we can know the truth? Ephesians 5, verse 17 says that we can: “Wherefore, be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.’ Now, we would all answer the question that way, I think. Well, can we distinguish error? Well, if we can distinguish truth, what is error? Error is that, is that which is not of the truth. Whether there’s an addition or a subtraction, if we can understand the truth, then we can understand error, can’t we?
Must we dispute over every difference? Well, clearly we must not. But must we dispute over any difference? Clearly, we must, so, when we talk about the fact that we can know the truth and we can know error, that we must dispute upon some differences, but we must refrain from that on others, how do we define that difference? How do we tell what it is, when we look at this idea, there are different roads that can be had?
There’s that which leads in a way of error and needs to be understood that way. There’s that which is the path of truth, it needs to be understood that way. There’s something that is of a needless dispute, and we have the need to understand what that is. And so, what we have to do, is we have to look at the earmarks, at the identification for those, as they’re given in scripture.
Let’s look at I Timothy chapter 6 and in verse 4, and then, if you’ll hold your finger there, and go on over to II Timothy 2 and verse 14, we’re going to be looking at ah- both of those passages for a little while this evening. In I Timothy chapter 6 and in verse 4, we’re talking about the phrase when it says, ‘the disputes of words.’ My translation reads like this, ‘he is puffed up,’ (this one who turns away from the doctrine according to godliness, the sound words,) ‘he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and disputes of words.’
If you look over at II Timothy chapter 2 and in verse 14, the point is made of these, ‘put them in remembrance, charging in the sight of the Lord, that they strive not about words to no profit, to the subverting of them that hear.’ That idea of striving about words or disputing about words comes from the same thing in the original language. It’s that which is contrasted with the original word.
In the original language, the word ‘logos’ is used with regard to the word, the word of God. That’s not important, but all I bring it up for, is the point of saying, when you look at how this other word is used, it takes that word, which was understood, ‘the word’ is the word of God, and then adds this idea of that which is needless, that which is disputed, that which has its place of man. Those words, he talks about, are the ones that we are not to have a dispute over, there’s no profit in them.
So, what we want to do, is look at the contrast between those two, we want to notice that with those words that are words disputed, that are of needless controversy, that have to do with no profit, there is something associated in each of the texts with that of strife and envy. There is the perpetual wrangling that is a part of them. There is that which is useful for nothing but overthrowing the hearer, it says. And when you look at that, you see something that clearly stands in absolute opposition to what Jude talked about in Jude 3, ‘Contend earnestly for the faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints.’
Now, it doesn’t take much to understand, here’s some things that we ought not to dispute over, here’s things where there ought not to be contentions; here’s something where we need to contend, not only contend, but contend earnestly. The original word that’s used there has to do with the idea of a striving, and not just a striving, but an intense striving.
Why would we intensely strive, intensely fight? (‘Intensely’ means to contend for something.) Because it’s for the faith. It was once for all delivered to the saints, it is of God, and that’s something that is worth disputing about. That’s something worth contending for and defending, as the word of God declares it.
Let’s look at I Timothy chapter 6, and put that passage in verse 4 in context. Starting out with verse 3, Paul says, ‘if any man teacheth a different doctrine and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railing, evil surmisings, wrangling of men, corrupt in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain.’
Now look at those terms that are used there. When you look at the contrast that’s laid out in that passage, I have highlighted in yellow the things of God’s truth, and in blue, the things that have to do with these matters of questionings of man. He talks about sound words, what are those? Those are the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Just what Jesus - not, no addition, no subtraction to it, but what Jesus said, the doctrine which is according to godliness.
Now, what stands in opposition to that? Well, these questions and disputes of words, which have envy, strife, railing, evil surmisings, wranglings of men who are bereft of the truth about them. You see, those two are clearly contrasted. If I’m going to look at truth, I’m going to look first off, and say, ‘What does the Lord say about this?’
Now, someone who’s out there in the denominational world, and looks at that says, ‘Well now, does that mean we only look at the red letters?’ No. The Word of Jesus Christ is the entirety of the gospel. We understand that. In John 14 – 16, Jesus tells His disciples that he is going to send the comforter, the Holy Spirit to them, He said, ‘He’ll guide you to all truth; some that I’ve not been able to say to you yet, He’ll bring that, He’ll guide you to all truth, you’ll know it through the Spirit.’ Jesus says, ‘He’ll take of mine, and He’ll give it to you.’
When the Spirit took that which is of Jesus and gave it to His apostles, through inspiration, whose word was it? It was the word of Christ. That’s why it’s called the gospel of Christ, and that’s why Paul is pointing out here, it’s that which is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, the doctrine that is according to the holiness of God.
Now, that which stands in contrast to that, and is apart from that, is very clearly that which is of the other nature. What we are to contend for is the one, not the other. Then again, when you look at that, you recognize that what we abide in are those things, what we keep away from are the things we’ve talked about.
I want to stop for just a minute, and notice something about this one here of, ‘doting about questions.’ The original word there has a literal meaning. The doting means, ‘sick, sick about questions.’ And you think, ‘well now, how in the world did somebody translate a word that means sick into doting?’ You understand that and so do I. Have you ever told your wife or your husband, ‘you know, you’re worrying yourself sick?’ Now, you’ve heard that, haven’t you? That’s something you’ve said, or you’ve heard, one, that you’re just spending all of that time with that, now, what happens? Some people do that in the religious realm. I’ve seen that happen with those who are members of the body of Christ.
The idea is, they’re having all these questions over here, and they’re thinking about them so much, they’re making themselves sick in two ways. One, they’re worrying about those all the time, they occupy their time, they don’t have any solution to ‘em ultimately, they just continually keep on and on and on, because they’re not matters of revelation. Number two, they make themselves sick spiritually, because they so concentrate on that which is not relevant, because it’s not of a matter revealed of God, that they forget what is revealed of God. And the result is, they fail to grow as they ought, and they become a hobby-horse rider. Just one thing that they zero in on, and they can’t do anything else. You ever seen that happen? That happens. And what happens to people like that? What happens to people like that is that they get sick, spiritually. I’ve seen that, repeatedly.
A good friend of mine was one who consumed himself in these kind of disputes. Every little thing that came up, that had some little current fad of dispute, he was involved in it up to his eyeballs. What happened was, he had so studied those things that he lost his faith, and now he’s no longer anything religiously. He’s out in the middle of the world. Why? Because that makes you sick, when you do that.
Brethren, when we look at something with regard to factionalism, we need to understand it has a danger about it. That danger is not to just that other guy over there. That danger is to me, and I need to understand that danger is there and be careful, lest I am swept away with something to a way in which there is no kind of a good balanced diet of truth, in which my faith is not furthered, but all the time it’s disputes of words. It’s dangerous.
When you look at II Timothy chapter 2, and in verse 14-18, he says, ‘Of these things, put them in remembrance, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they may strive not about words to no profit, to the subverting of them that hear. Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. But shun profane babblings for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a gangrene, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the truth, have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.’
What do you have? You’ve have the same thing there. You have a contrast between that which you ought to be in remembrance of in the sight of the Lord, the words of truth, that you ought to handle aright; and those things that are words to no profit, those things that are profane babblings, words that will eat as a gangrene, those things that have erred from the truth, those things that overthrow the faith of some. You see that? Those two are set in contrast, aren’t they?
And what we notice about that is, that we must appeal to the word of God, and we must handle it correctly. That’s what Paul is pointing out. Study the word of God, but study the word of God to show thyself approved, as one who’s rightly handling God’s word. There’s a difference between just reading it, and trying to come along and saying, ‘well, I’m going to use this, and I’m going to use this, and I’m going to use this; and studying the word of God, and using it properly. Looking and seeing, what did God have in mind? Studying the context, studying the remote context, seeing what God has declared, and letting our faith be upon a ‘thus sayeth the Lord:’ fairly, rightly handling that truth.
If we start to mishandle it, and start to use techniques of study that will turn away from that truth and centered on that truth, then we’re going to end up with a problem. And that’s what Paul is saying needs to be avoided.
That truth will also result in godly living. All truth has that impact. It comes to the point of godliness, whether it is by first, building our faith, so that we’re more dependant upon God, or two, instructing us with regard to how we should live righteously, soberly and godly lives before our Lord and Father. That’s something we need to recognize. When we look at those things of truth, they lead in that direction.
And also about that, error is seen to be distinguished. Error’s distinguished from that truth and the pursuit of the truth because there is a failure to handle the word of God properly and to divide it properly, when we end up with error.
What happens with the Baptist who says, ‘Be ye saved by once saved, or by faith only.’ Well, they’ve mishandled the word of God, haven’t they? They’ll say, ‘well, I look over here at John 3:16 and it says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ See, I believe the word of God. That’s all you need to do.’ What happened? He forgot to go over to the other passages.
You know, he wouldn’t have done that with regard to anything else. When his boss told him here are 15 things that you need to do to get your paycheck, he wouldn’t have gone to number 1 and said, ‘See, boss, I’ve done it. Now give me my paycheck,’ He knew that wouldn’t work. Why? Because the whole context spoke something differently.
You see, there’s a difference between the right handling and the wrong handling of the word of God. The wrong handling gets us to error. It’ll overthrow the faith of hearers. When we take the word of God and we abuse it, we don’t properly declare that truth, but instead, we place error in its stead, then what’ll happen? Error has the effect of causing people to be overthrown in their faith. It doesn’t build, because it’s not based upon truth. It’s not going to instruct, because it’s not a declaration of the will of God, so what has to happen is, we have to base that on truth.
Error is going to lead in a different direction, and it’s going to cause souls to be lost. Error is going to yield a fruit of unrighteousness and ungodliness, when applied into the light. When you see those things that have to do with error, maybe it has to do with the immorality that’s sometimes approved of, in the world. You have somebody talking about one thing after another of why, well really you can wear this little immodest dress over here, it’s not too bad. That’s just Paul talking in cultural terms about the things that they wore, it’s not necessary today.
Or you know, drinking of a little bit of intoxicating beverage, that’s not so bad. Not a problem, is it? And you pervert the word of God to try to do that. And somebody says, ‘you know, I’ve never agreed with that idea out there that you can’t gamble,’ and they start to mess around with God’s word on that, what’ll happen? What happens is, that there’s a fruit of ungodliness that is yielded in the light.
Error will also be that which has a degenerative effect over time. The point that is made here in II Timothy 2, is it’s like a gangrene that eats, you ever seen that happen? Some translations call it a cancer. A gangrene or a cancer have an effect of being something that works, it degenerates over time. You don’t go to a doctor and he says, ‘you know, you’ve got gangrene in your big toe,’ and you say, ‘well, I’ll wait until it gets up to my knee and then we’ll talk about doing something.’ You don’t do that, do you? You recognize it has that degenerative effect, and before it gets there, you cut it off.
But you don’t go to that doctor and say, ‘you know,’ a doctor says, ‘you have-ah, an ingrown toenail, you need to take care of that.’ And he says, ‘Well, other foot, you took the toe off, doc, go ahead and whack it off right there.’ You don’t do that, do ya? There’s a difference ‘tween the way that you deal with an ingrown toenail and gangrene. Anybody knows that.
There’s a difference between the way you deal with something that has to do with disputes of words and that which has to do with error, as well. Error abandons a fundamental principle of truth. You watch any error and it does that, it will sooner or later deny the fundamentals that have to do with God’s truth with regard to a particular matter. And that’s what Paul is pointing out here, in this particular passage.
In I Timothy chapter 1, verses 3-11, there’s another passage that I want us to notice, and just pick up on the terms that are used here again, contrasting the truth versus that which is not the truth. He says, ‘I exhort thee to tarry at, ah, Ephesus, when I was go-when I was going to Macedonia, that thou mayest charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine, neither to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than a dispensation of God which is in faith; so do I now. But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned: from which, some, the have tur-having, ah, from which things some having turned, swerved aside to vain talking; desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm, as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for a lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murtherers-murderers of mother, for manslayers, for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine; according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to our trust.’
When you look at that, you see the same thing. There is a distinction between something which has to do with sound, or healthy doctrine that comes of the faith (that was from God, it was ministered from God’s dispensation of grace), it is that which is according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to the trust of those who were inspired of God. That difference in those things which have to do with endless genealogies, and a different doctrine in matters that minister questions, and so forth.
Paul had pointed out repeatedly that ma-that the doctrine must be of God. That’s what made it something that we must listen to. It’s a sound doctrine, if it is that way. We couldn’t expect it to be any other way. Sound means healthy. How is it healthy? Because it comes from God, who knows what we need, who understands the things that are going to make us spiritually stronger and to make us grow. That’s what we need to listen to.
Those things are of the gospel that’s revealed, and when we look at the revealed gospel, now get that, the gospel which was revealed one time for all time in the first century, when that is our focus, then we’re looking at something that is going to be to our health. We’re looking at something that is from God, and we’re looking at something that we need to keep.
Error’s not going to be like that. Error’s going to be that which is of a different doctrine, not the doctrine that God gave. It’s going to be something that’s found in an improper handling of that truth and it’s going to be something that manifests itself in a life which is corruptible.
Down there at the end of that passage, all of those things he says, ‘here’s what law is given for. It’s to correct the lawlessness of those who are evil.’ When he discusses all of those things, what he’s pointing our attention to, is: go back and see the source. Find out where it came from and when you find the source of a doctrine, when you find out where it was declared, where it was revealed, then you’ll find the difference between that which is of God and that which is of man.
Let’s go over to I Timothy chapter 4. In I Timothy chapter 4, he applies this to a specific case. In verse 1 of I Timothy 4, ‘But the Spirit saith expressly, that in the latter times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth.’
I want to stop there for just a minute. Now, think about this. What we’ve got is, the Spirit said something. Why do I need to listen to that? The Spirit’s God. If the Spirit said it, it was inspired of God. ‘All scripture is given by the inspiration of God.’ How’d He give that? The Spirit spoke those things, I Corinthians 2, verses 10 and 11, which have to do with the mind of God. How’d He do it? Verse 13, he did so by declaring God’s thoughts and God’s words. That’s what the Spirit did. He verbally inspired the Word of God, so when the Spirit says something, I better listen to it.
What’d the Spirit say? The Spirit said, in the latter times, there are some that are going to turn away from the faith. What’s that? That’s the word of God, that’s the instruction of the Spirit, that is the scripture, the gospel, some are going to turn away from that. What are they going to do, Paul? What they’re going to do is, they’re going to speak lies instead of that truth. It’s one or the other.
If it’s not of God, it’s not of his truth and it’s opposed to that, it is a lie. So, what Paul points out is, you need to go back to the truth. What are they going to do that’s so lying? What they’re going to do is, they’re going to forbid to marry and they’re going to command to abstain from meats.
Now, it didn’t say that there are going to be ones who are not going to marry, it said they’re going to forbid to marry. There isn’t any problem in not marrying. If I come along and decide I’m not going to be married, I’m just going to stay single; after I met Leslie, I’d be stupid for deciding that, but I wouldn’t be in sin.
And if I came along and I said to you, ‘you know, it would be better for you not to marry, and maybe wise or unwise given your particular case,’ but I still haven’t sinned. When I say, ‘you can’t marry, I’m forbidding it. You cannot do that without being sinner,’ now I’ve got a problem. Now I’ve done that which is what’s talked about here.
Same thing with regard to commanding to abstain from meats. If I decide to be a vegetarian, that’s fine. I wouldn’t be the weight I am, that would be something that I could do. You could, too. When I say, ‘you know, it’d be better if you were a vegetarian,’ still haven’t sinned. When I said, ‘it’s forbidden for you to eat meat or you’re sinning in doing it,’ what have I done? What I have done, he said, is I’ve gone against the word of God. Why? Because God created it to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth. Why? Because God sanctified it, He said, He sanctified it through the word of God and prayer, the points. He sanctified it through the word of God by making it clean, by saying ‘all meats are that which we can receive if we receive them given an understanding that God has granted them by his grace, and we’re prayerful, thankful for what He has done.
So here’s the point: When you look at every creature and you see it’s good, it’s not to be rejected, it’s to be received because the word of God said so, then he says, ‘if thou put the brethren in mind of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus.’
Let me hold it right there again. Why did he need to remind them of those things? Was there something so inherently a problem that if somebody had gone out here and said, ‘you can’t eat meat and you can’t marry, that that was such a disturbing doctrine that somehow the faith of Jesus Christ was at stake? Evidently. Why? Because somebody added to the word of God. And when somebody added to the word of God, what they had done, was they hadn’t put the brethren in mind of ‘these things’ that were of Christ Jesus. They had put them in mind of that which had to do with the doctrine of demons, lies, and those two stood in far contrast from one another.
When he says, on the other hand, ‘if thou put them in mind of these things thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, you’re nourished in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine, which thou hast followed unto now, but refuse profane and old wive’s fables.’
What we’ve got is two directors in I Timothy 4. There’s the director that has to do with that which originates of the Spirit, of His inspiration, which has to do with the faith, the truth, the word of God, the doctrine, the words of faith; and that which has to do with the doctrines of demons, the way of man in the particular examples given, or in any other. In all of it, what we’re doing is we’re turning aside from the truth, unto those things which vie against the truth. That’s a danger, brethren, and we need to always be aware of it.
We need to understand that those words of truth are the words of the faith, that which is delivered of God. It’s a good doctrine, it’s to be taught to all, it’s something that is there, that’s found by giving our self wholly to it, it says, all of the word of God. And when you look at that in the life of an individual, it’ll produce godliness, when it’s applied there.
Now, when you look at error, there’s something different that goes on. It’s of the source of the seducing spirits, of the doctrines of demons, it’s that, not that which is of God. That which is inspired is of God; that which is of man is described like that.
When it’s error, it’s that which contradicts the revealed truth of almighty God. And it’s that which produces a fruit of evil whenever it’s put into practice in the life of an individual. Now, what happens with all of this? With all of this, we’re seeing the same points repeatedly, aren’t we? Truth and error are distinguished in a very clear way, all through here.
In I Timothy chapter 2, or first, or II Timothy, pardon me, I’ll get it right here in a minute. In II Timothy chapter 4, in verses 1-5, we remember the statements that were made of that earlier. He says, ‘you are charged in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus, you preach the word.’ That word, Paul said, was that which was of sound doctrine. That’s the point. The Word of God makes one healthy. This-they are equivalent.
That way that’s taught is contrary to the world. He said, there’ll be people out there who don’t want to hear it, you preach it anyway. It’s not the natural conclusion of the world. It’s not what everybody else is going to do, just by a course. That Word of God, that truth, is that which is preached in reproving, rebuking and exhorting, and it’s continued with all longsuffering and teaching or doctrine.
Let me stop here for a minute. I’m old enough to have lived through the last little part of the institutional division. My parents were in an institutional congregation. When we came to Pampa, TX, we were taught out of that. The division came late to the panhandle of Texas, in about the early 1960’s, I was just little boy.
I remember the difference between brother J. M. Gilpatrick, who came and taught my parents the truth on that subject. My dad had heard him preach a lesson on how the church support of the orphan’s home was not right. Came home and said, ‘you know, that old man’s just too good a guy to be an anti, so what we need to do is we need to bring him over and we need to teach him.’ It didn’t take Dad too awful long to figure out that old brother Gilpatrick wasn’t the one that needed to be taught.
Brother Gilpatrick was a patient man, he saw that if he had continued to point out, ‘here’s what the doctrine of Christ says, here’s what the word of God says, here’s what the Word of God says,’ and keep himself open to study, there’s going to be somebody who obeyed that. It’d turn his way.
We went over to a reunion after my folks had taken a stand for the truth, and told ‘em they weren’t going to be.
(Tape one, side one ends here. Tape one, side two begins immediately below - jhb.)
“…To this day, I remember what those people who were my kinfolks did. Now, mind you, this was the first time this had ever happened. They didn’t have any idea up ‘til then where we stood with regard to the issues. Mom and Dad walked in, and the whole family walked to the other side of that building. My aunt Maurice always had a loud voice and thought she could whisper, and she turned to the lady next to her and she said, ‘that’s the antis.’ They weren’t willing to study. They weren’t willing to sit down there, and talk about the word of God. They weren’t willing to have an open discussion publicly, or an open discussion privately. We were just to be seen as the antis, those dreaded people, and suddenly, study was un- was something that they saw as unnecessary.
Brethren, when you look at a controversy arise, and you see that the way people handle it is by boycotting the preaching of those things that have to do with truth, you’ve found, most likely, where the error is. Truth is never afraid to stand up. Truth is never afraid to stand there and have a discussion of truth, to have an open Bible and to study those issues. Truth is always ready to do that. Error is not. Error is going to be something that tries to work behind the back, it’s going to be something that tries to label through unnecessary means, it’s going to be something that takes quotations out of context, attributes things to people that are not so. That’s what error does.
Truth opens a Bible, sets down with long suffering and doctrine. We can convert one who’s sincere to the truth. That’s so with an alien sinner, and that’s so with a brother who’s strayed from the truth. The doctrine of God, the truth of God, together with the longsuffering and patient attitude of an individual Christian, is something that’ll go a long way and is much needed in our time.
When we look at this passage, it’s also pointed out that that truth will not tolerate those who are worldly and those who practice that way of evil. Instead of that, it’s going to show a contrasting character of the way of error. Error shows in-a-a teaching or shows one who teaches a path that will justify an ungodly lust, and will not endure the teaching of the full truth. That’s the path of error. It’s going to go into ungodliness and it’s not going to tolerate everything, with regard to the truth. It will have myopia, and try to center in on one particular matter, they think is a proof text, rather than looking at what the context as a whole has declared. When you find that, you know you’ve found error. That’s the point that Paul is making.
The inherent corruption of error is also clear. Over in II Timothy 2 and in verse 17, we’ve already read, he says, this is like a gangrene, it gets worse and worse. II Timothy 3 and verse 13, that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. The point is made by Jesus, with regard to the corruption of the hearer, of that which is of evil. That’s exactly what the Pharisees were like in making them corrupt. It corrupts the church, I Corinthians 5 shows that leaven that goes through the lump.
I Corinthians chapter 15, verse 33 isn’t talking mainly to young people. When it says ‘evil companionship corrupts good morals,’ the point of that is, if you allow those people in here teaching this doctrine, that there is no resurrection, and you continue to have them there, it’s going to corrupt the congregation. That’s the nature of error. It does that. It causes one to stray and it corrupts them in a repeated fashion and it gets worse and worse and worse.
When you look at Revelation chapter 2, you see the point that’s made in the three letters, there especially, how it is that that error has a license that’s given to sin. Ultimately, Jezebel shows that, doesn’t she? The character that was there when it was a little bit of a doctrine of Balaam, or a little bit of a doctrine of Nicolaitans, which was there with some of ‘em (some of ‘em hated it, some of ‘em didn’t), and when those that didn’t, allowed it to exist, what happened? It swept through and it had a continuing effect that was there. That’s the way with error. It has a progressive, corrupting effect, whether it has to do with a doctrine that is perverted through a misuse of scripture, or whether it has to do with a life that is corrupted by evil that grows, and I want to notice both of those are so.
When you find an error, what it’s noted by is one thing or the other, from the start of it. It may be seen by both, but not usually. You might notice, here’s an error because what’s happening is, it gives its way as something that’s going to cause that life to be ungodly. Righteousness and godliness and holiness is going to be diminished in that, and you may not be able to see the full effect, but that’s the effect of error. It’ll get worse and worse like that, in that area.
The other side of it is, error is seen by its misuse of truth. And sometimes somebody s-, ‘well it’s not so bad, it’s just that one little thing.’ What’s the problem? The problem is, there’s never a safe error because when you abuse scripture one way, it’s going to be something that’s magnified on down the line. It’s going to cause there to be one abuse after another. The most telling effect, I think, of that, that I can see, is you look at those who are from among brethren in Christ. You look and see those who came along as they were saying, ‘well, you know, you’ve got to use just one container in serving the Lord’s supper.’
Now, somebody’d say, ‘well now, what’s the big deal? There’s no problem in that.’ Alright, now what happens? Now what happens is, they take that and they try to go ‘alright now, now I’ve got to reread everything that has to do from the gospels about the institutional Lord’s supper, I’ve got to reread over here in I Corinthians chapter 11, and I’ve got to somehow give some significance unto that cup, and now it becomes the covenant that’s there. And so now we’ve got three elements in the Lord’s supper. Now that we’ve got three elements in the Lord’s supper, then what happens, then what happens from that is, we’ve got to have some significance, we’ve got to have something else that goes, and what happened? Before long, you’ve perverted the Lord’s supper. It’s about a physical cup, rather than about the death of Jesus Christ, as the focus of it.
Now somebody said, ‘Well that just didn’t seem so bad, with that original one.’ But you see, the effect of it went on and on, didn’t it? And that’s how a misuse of scripture will take place. When we look at what it’ll also bring, it’ll bring about an inevitable division.
In I John chapter 2 and in verse 19, it says, ‘they went out from us because they were not of us, where if they had been of us, they would not have continued with us,’ or ‘would they not have continued with us? But they went out that they might be made manifest that they are not of us.’ What happened? It’s going to be something where we were divided in our sentiment. And what happens, the division of God’s people is the effect of that. Not only does error have a devastating effect on the individual, not only does it have a devastating effect on the way of truth, but it has a devastating effect upon the unity of the saints. That point is made repeatedly, we don’t have time to go to everyone of these passages, but notice in Acts chapter 20, verses 29 and 30, same thing. Here grievous wolves – what are they going to? They’re going to depart from the faith and they’re going to carry some of you away.
Or how about II Timothy 4, we’ve already looked at that, where people with itching ears; they want a different doctrine to scratch those itching ears. You keep teaching the truth, Timothy. In Corinthians chapter 11 verse 19, there must needs be divisions and factions. Why? Because those who are not of us need to be made manifest. That’s the effect of it. It’s going to bring about a division in the people of God. II John 9-11, when one goes beyond the doctrine of Christ, he has not God. What happens? If he gets somebody in here who still has that false doctrine, he’s going to be led away, others are going to be led away, he’s going to partake of the evil. What’s the point? Don’t receive it. When one goes away from the truth, do not receive that individual. When you’ve got thir-ah-John 3, verses 19-21, you notice Jesus’ statement that He was of the light, these other people are of the darkness, the darkness wouldn’t receive the light, why? Because they loved darkness rather than light.
There’s a division that’s naturally going to take place there and that same thing is so in II Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 17. That’s why Paul commands, as he quotes from the Old Testament, ‘Come out from among them and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing.’ Brethren, when we think about error, we are looking at something that’s going to devastate the people of God. We might look at it and say, ‘you know, I don’t see the real problem right now, it doesn’t seem that bad’ or ‘this guy over here that’s doing that, it, he’s just not a bad guy, I like him.’
I’ve gone to graduate school with people who are out there in the world, people who are denominational preachers. I like ‘em, I really enjoy their company. One of my best friends, when I was in Baytown, TX was one of the chief Baptist preachers in one of these big Baptist churches. I liked the guy, but he was as wrong as he could be and I opposed the doctrine that was there with all my might. That’s what we have to determine to do with tru-with that which is of error, among the people of God.
The history of doctrinal errors is seen to have corrupted people over and over again. Gnosticism corrupted both the doctrine and the life. With their idea that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh because flesh is inherently sinful, what happened? They perverted the doctrine about Christ, and they perverted the life by saying, ‘well, as long as we sin in the flesh, our spirit can yet remain untainted.’ And what happened? What happened was, they went into sin.
When you look at the errors of the apostasy in Roman, into Roman Catholicism, you find the same thing. One error begat another and another and another until finally, what happened? The doctrine, as a whole has no resemblance to the New Testament doctrine. The idea was that you can go out here and you can commit a sin, and you can pay for it in advance with indulgences. That’s exactly what caused Martin Luther to see the problem in the whole thing.
When you look at the impact of the evil of Calvinism, the idea that once you’re saved, you’re always saved –Mo was telling me about a fellow who stood up and in the place was asked whether he would be saved if he had murdered his father and mother, just murdered and killed himself; murders father, mother, commits suicide, Baptist preacher said, if he was saved, he’s going straight to heaven and God couldn’t keep him out if he wanted to. That’s the impact of false doctrine, you see. It has a corrupting effect that’s there.
The errors among recent brethren, same way. The missionary society and the instrument, some say, ‘what’s the problem?’ Look at the Christian Church today. Look at the Disciples of Christ Christian Church today and you tell me what you see. Something that’s so far away from the word of God, it’s not even recognizable. Somebody may not have seen the original problems, but it was error. How did s-how was it seen? Because it had its devastating and growing effect.
When you look at premillenialism the same way, the premillenial churches down in the Louisville area are into ecumenicism now. When you look at that which has to do with institutionalism, they’ve gone from that, to saying, ‘you know, we do a lot of things for which we have no Bible authority,’ to saying, ‘the word of God isn’t intended to be a pattern anyway, so what’s this talk about authority?’ That’s where it went.
When you see people who have had a justification of unity in doctrinal diversity, what they’ve gone to is moral relativism. It’s okay for you, you think it’s okay, that’s alright. And when people have come along and said, ‘well, you know, we really don’t have a problem with that alien sinner out there who’s been divorced and remarried,’ what happens? Before long, you aren’t talking about that alien sinner anymore. You’re talking about everybody divorced and remarried for any cause and everything’s okay. You ever notice how quickly it went from one to the other?
In 1988, you had brother Hailey dealing with the alien sinner. In 2003, tell me who it is that’s talking about that alien sinner anymore? Those who are goin out there and trying to justify divorce and remarriage for every cause are doing it for every cause and whoever you’ve got as a subsequent mate, you can keep. That’s the effect, that’s the growing effect that’s there.
When somebody comes along and says, ‘well now, we need to justify these shorts,’ I’ll guarantee you it’s going to get worse. The effect of it is, do you have that kind of a doctrine that leads away from the truth, that which leads a soul into error?
Now, what we want to do, is distinguish that from the disputes of words. The disputes of words that Paul’s talking about are not that which are inherently a part of the truth. They’re not that which are of error and bring about the condemnation of our souls, in and of themselves. We’re going to show how they can be, but not in and of themselves.
And I want to notice the defining characteristics, if I might for just a minute, these disputes of words are matters that are not based upon the revelation of God. We’ve already talked about this, I want to put these things into our minds and we’re going to notice a few quotes. They’re not based upon the revelation of God, but upon the questions of man. They’re having to do with things that are a perpetual wrangling, rather than matters settled by divine precept. They’re those things that are found as a-matters other than the revealed doctrine of Christ, they’re not that. They can’t be found in the revealed things of Christ, but in the judgments of an application out here that I might have in mind.
They’re things that are not profitable, regardless of the outcome, one way or another about them. Those are the kind of things that we’re talking about: speculation, opinion, application of general principles, where the details are not specified in the gospel of Christ. Those are the areas of disputes of words. Now, I want to try to notice some examples of such.
In New Testament times, there were some examples of those. The eating of meats was one. The eating of meats, both in Romans chapter 14 and I Corinthians 8 and in I Corinthians 10, was pointed out to be a matter that you’re not made the better or the worse, either way you go about that. Now, what happened? There was a problem from the Jewish background. Somebody over here saw a ham steak and they said, ‘I can’t eat that; the law of Moses forbade that.’ But, the law of Moses had been taken out of the way. And yet, this Jew, who had just been converted to Christ, is he expected to overnight say, ‘Well, now, I think I can partake of that ham steak. I was baptized Monday and now, here it is Tuesday morning and I’m going to eat that.’ That’s not going to happen. He’s going to have to deal with that conscience for some time.
The same thing would go to the Gentile who’s out there who had thought about that meat that was offered before the idol. That that meat offered before the idol was something that he gave deference to the idol if he partook of that, he couldn’t do that. Even if he knows now, there’s nothing in that idol, what’s going to happen for a bit of time? What’s going to happen for a bit of time is he’s going to have to get that out of his mind. If- you can’t be converted from idolatry on Monday and the next day go in there and partake of something that’s offered to the idol of Apollo and feel good about it. He’s going to have a conscience problem with that. Let me suggest something to you: both of them had to do with an application of a generic principle.
Some of those things were still binding. Could that Jew go over here, and partake of another thing that was against the Law of Moses, of that which was of a thing strangled, or of blood? The answer to that’s no, because man has never had the right to eat blood. Could that Gentile go and do the same thing, because that was a part of idolatrous worship, over and over again, the eating of blood, he couldn’t do that either. Now, let me suggest one more thing with regard to that: I still live under that obligation, you still live under that obligation, the same as they did in the New Testament times. We cannot partake of the blood.
Now, somebody comes along, ‘what does that mean?’ How long exactly does that blood need to be drained from that meat for me to live by that regulation of not eating blood? I can’t eat something strangled, and that means if that blood’s set up in that meat, I cannot eat it, but how long is permitted for that animal to have died and then to start to bleed it, exactly?
In each one of those, we have something that’s not specified in scripture, don’t we? We have something where there is a principle that we’re all going to be there, but with regard to the particular application, we’re not going to see that all the same. Here’s somebody who comes along and they say, ‘well, you know, I’ve got no problem with eating that medium-rare steak out there.’ Other one says, ‘I don’t want to eat blood. I’m going to cause that to be cooked until some of that goes away and those juices flow out, and I’ll feel more conscientious about eating it then.’ Fine. Can the one who wants it well done say to the one who wants it medium-rare, ‘you’re a sinner?’ Not inherently.
There are going to be some matters of an application of that where we both agree with the principle, but there are going to be some finer details there that are not specified by God and we have to allow a realm of conscience in that way. That’s exactly what had to be done in New-New Testament times, as well. You talk about the keeping of days. There were those who were, mainly with Jewish holidays, they could keep that day, as long as they didn’t keep it in an understanding that that Old Testament law was still binding.
You take the feast of tabernacles with regard to the thanksgiving of what God had done. There was nothing wrong with keeping that feast. Nothing inherently wrong about it, but if they kept it and said to the Gentiles, ‘you know, you need to keep this, because this is the law of God.’ No! Can’t do that. Why? Because that’s not the law of God. Here’s one who did keep it, here’s one who didn’t, here’s one who looked at that feast of tabernacles and said, ‘you know, if I stopped having that feast of tabernacles, it would be like not being thankful to God. I can’t do that.’
Is it right for him to keep it? Yes. What was he supposed to do? He was supposed to recognize it was also right for that Gentile out there or the Jew who had decided not to do it, to do what they were going to do. The principle for thanksgiving was the same for all of them. But the application with how he would show that may differ between them, mighten it? That’s the point.
When you look at that which had to do with circumcision after the time of Christ, you notice the same thing. Maybe some reasons to observe circumcision. Paul did in one case with one of his traveling companions and not the other. In neither case did he do so because he thought that was still required. If someone did that looking forward to Christ and the promise of Christ, which is what the covenant was to Abraham, he’s doing it for the wrong reason. If he’s doing it for the reason of coming in and having influence with those who were circumcised of the Jews, or for some health reason or whatever else, no problem with that.
But you see, the two could differ in their practice, and yet hold to the same principle, couldn’t they? That’s the realms that we’re talking about with regard to disputes of words. If we’re doing those applications, we’re saying everybody has to do this like I do because I see this principle this way, and I apply this principle this way in matters that are not specified before God, we’re doing wrong. We’re doing something of a dispute that’s over words, and there’s no profit, one way or the other in what we’re doing.
Modern examples might be of the same way. Here, look at the idea of one who observes Christmas as a secular holiday. When one does that, he’s doing much the same thing that this one was, who partakes of the tabernacle feast, no longer in a way of seeing that as something that is giving deference to the Old Testament law or the abiding in the Old Testament law. It’s not having to do with that which ha-which is a necessity of spiritual matters, merely a matter of his own personal thanksgiving that’s there. Might a Christian go out there and observe Christmas as a secular holiday, give gifts with those who are his family, see it as a time off, a time for family to gather together and have no religious significance regarding the birth of Christ? If he does so, would that cause a growing practice of sin, or abuse of the Bible? I’ve seen brethren do that for many years, there’s no growing abuse that’s there. There’s no abuse of the Bible that’s in all of that.
You see the problem is, that’s an issue that deals with application, not with doctrine. That’s the difference between the two. Same thing with regard to the evening Lord’s supper. Now, this may not always be the, the case, but somebody who comes along and says, ‘now I just have conscience problem with the partaking the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week on the evening,’ and they’re not going to bind that conscience upon someone else, where they cannot fulfill the commandments of God, is there a problem with that? No, it’s individually discerned, I Corinthians 11 says. There’s no growing abuse that I’ve seen in coming from that with many brethren who’ve believed that for years. You see, all of them abide on the same principle: we need to keep the Lord’s supper, they teach the same thing about the Lord’s supper, there’s a problem with regard to an application to an evening partaking of the Lord’s supper. Brethren can exist with that and not have to divide.
When there are those who believe they need to wear the artificial covering in worship, why do they do that? They do that because they believe that that’s necessary as a sign of their subjection. Have you seen those who are wearing the covering, that have a growing sinful practice to come from it? Absolutely not. I’ve not seen that. Have you seen those who are not wearing the covering as ones who are inherently less in subjection, the women, and they’re ones who don’t care anything, they’re going out after the feminist agenda? No, hadn’t see that, have you?
What’s the problem? The problem is not over the subjection, that’s the principle. The problem has to do with an application, a sign of subjection, with regard to the artificial covering. That’s why we can continue to have fellowship in that way. But, when either one of those come along, or any of the above come along and decide, ‘we’re going to bind that as a doctrinal necessity,’ you’ve got a problem. And the problem you have is not because the thing is inherently sinful, it’s because it’s being bound as something that is an absolute doctrinal necessity, to be right with God. That, no one has the right to do.
[This begins the portion of the tape in which the subject matter moves on (from the general topic of Matters of Faith vs. Needless Controversy) to the current controversy that concerns the second putting away. However, Harry distorts the topic of controversy into something it is not (civil law versus God’s law), and ignores the true issue of who, specifically, Jesus issued the exception clause to: the one who puts away, NOT the one who IS PUT AWAY, (and who is thus precluded from lawful remarriage to another, while their bound spouse lives, Mt. 5:32b, 19:9b and Lk. 16:18b, cf. Rom. 7:3).]
I want to notice with you the same thing on an issue that has been of much discussion among the people of God. And as I do it, I want you to know that I’m doing this because I think we need to give some serious consideration to these matters. On Tuesday morning, we had some open discussion, study of this over at brother Hafley’s house. I appreciated that good attitudes prevailed.
Brethren need to open their Bibles and study and that’s what I’m going to try to do tonight. Brother Phillips, a long time ago, told me that when you stand in the pulpit, recognize that what you do, you’ll answer to God for, and I do that. I hope to God that I’m doing that in this part of the lesson, as well and I know that these things have been much discussed in this area. I want to try to do so in the right attitude and I want to try to make you understand, as well, that before we do this, I’m open to discuss and to study further. If you see something that I say that’s not right with the word of God, then you’d be my friend in pointing that out. I’d be glad to discuss it more with you.
But I want us to think about this matter with regard to divorce and remarriage, and see where this issue fits. And the point is, it may be in two different categories, depending on what issue we’re talking about. There are matters that have to do with the revealed truth, that are based upon what Jesus has said, and we must unite upon those.
Those matters have to do with that there’s one woman and one man that are together for life, that that’s something that there’s one exception - the innocent puts a guilty party away for the cause of fornication - that’s the only reason, and has a right of remarriage. And only then, are we talking about that which is the truth. All opposition to that revealed truth cannot be tolerated. That’s a doctrinal principle that’s involved.
I know it’s a doctrinal principle because when I turn to the word of God, I see it. In Matthew chapter 19, the point is made, ‘As the Pharisees came to Him, they asked him a question, trying him, saying is it lawful for man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said, have ye not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female and said, for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh so that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And they say unto him, why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorcement and to put her away? And he said unto them, Moses, for the hardness of your heart, suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning, it hath not been so. And I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except for the cause of fornication, and shall marry another committeth adultery. And he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery. The disciples say unto him, if the case (that’s the same word has been rendered cause all through this context) if the case of a man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry, but he said unto them, not all men can receive this saying, but they to whom it is given, for there are eunuchs that were so born from their mothers’ womb, and there are eunuchs that were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.’
What I know about that? I know the disci-or that the-ah Pharisees came and said, ‘Can we put away our wives for every cause?’ Now, think about that. What is the focus? They said, ‘is it right for us to put away for every cause? Jesus is answering about a question that has to do for cause. Jesus is not answering a question where they ask him, ‘how do we put away our wives?’ He’s not asking a question, ‘what procedure do we go through to put away our wives?’ What they’re asking is the effect, putting away the wife, sundering from them, no longer being husband and wife, can we do that for every cause? Jesus says, ‘No, sir.’ He says, ‘Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and he made them with a reason, with a case in mind, a cause in mind, that there be this one man, this one woman that joined together for life and what God joined, no man is to put asunder.’ Now, think about that.
The effect that the Pharisees were looking at, is, ‘We want to be sundered, we want to be parted, we want to put away our wives, we want to exist separately out here. Can we do that for any reason?’ Jesus says, ‘No, you’re supposed to be together. What God joined together, let not man put asunder.’ When He’s talking about ‘Let not man put asunder,’ sunder what? That relationship, the one man for one woman for life. You’re to be in that marriage, you’re to be bound by God, you’re to be there with one another, and that is not to be separated.
Now, look what happens. Now, the Pharisees come to him, they say, ‘But Moses said we could give our wives a bill of divorcement, and then put them away.’ What they’re referring to is Deuteronomy 24, Deuteronomy 24 said, if you’re going to put away your wife, you’re going to sever from her, you’re going to live separately, you sunder that relationship, here’s what you do: you write out a bill of divorcement and then you go over here and you hand it into her hand. They’re saying, this procedure is what we did. And then, it was okay for us to live separately, us to be sundered, us to be parted.
Jesus says, ‘No, that’s not what happened. For the hardness of your heart, he suffered that, but from the beginning it wasn’t so.’ What wasn’t so? What wasn’t so is, that they ought not to be living separately. They ought not to have sundered what God joined together. Somebody says, ‘What?’ ‘Whosoever puts away his wife except for the cause of fornication.’ Now he gets the exact point that was there. Is it alright to put away for every cause? No, it’s not right to sunder, to put away, to go separate ways, to be living separately for any other reason than the cause of fornication. That’s it. If you do, you’re committing adultery, and if she goes out there in that kind of relationship, she’s committing adultery.
Now, notice, Jesus is answering in the primary case, what happens when there is no cause of fornication. What happens is, nobody has a right to remarry. What happens when there is a cause of fornication? That innocent one has a right to remarry. That’s the point. When you have a putting away for the cause of fornication, the effect being looked at because fornication has taken place, it’s caused a division in that relationship, Jesus is not saying, ‘Now here’s how you do it. You go out here and you do this, and you do this and you do this and you do this, and here’s the procedure by-’ that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying if there is a state in which there is sundered what God joined together for any other reason than fornication having caused that, nobody has the right to remarry. Now, that’s not difficult, folks. That is really not difficult.
What’s His focus? His focus is upon the godliness of the doctrine that’s there. Adultery is not to be tolerated. Adultery is not to be tolerated because it is the only reason for which there can be a sundering of that marriage, and then, who would be the one, in a doctrine according to godliness, that would have the right to go out there and remarry? A guilty party? Not hardly. An innocent party, who has lived according to godliness, and that’s the point. The disciples recognized it. They said, ‘If that’s the only cause, it’s better not to marry.’ They recognized that as a difficult matter.
It wasn’t too difficult for them to understand the procedure. The procedure is, you wrote out a document, you gave it to your wife. That’s about all. What shocked them is, there’s only one cause for which you can have a sundering of this, and somebody has the right to go out there and marry again. For the life of me, folks, I cannot understand what the problem with that is.
I taught this same doctrine on the West Coast for 25 years, when brethren were trying to say, ‘No, you can divorce and remarry for any cause and stay with the subsequent spouse.’ To get them back to the point of the cause, is the focus, and that righteousness of that cause, the godliness of that cause, the effect of that, you cannot separate, you cannot sunder, unless that’s taken place, unless there is that cause of fornication. That’s it.
Jesus was not talking about an application of present law. He was not talking about a specific procedure of putting away, not one time does he talk about the procedure. He talks about the effect. They talked about the procedure, he focused on the effect: the sundering. And yet, some brethren come along and say, ‘No, that putting away means you going out to a divorce court.’ No, it doesn’t. It didn’t mean that in context, it doesn’t mean that now.
Some will say the one who initiates and secures the civil action, that’s the only one who can remarry. Yeah? You show me where that’s so. Does your Bible say anywhere in it, ‘the one who files the divorce?’ Does that wording appear? Does the word court appear? Does the word judge appear? Does the idea of civil divorce appear?
Somebody says, ‘I got a New American Standard, it says divorce.’ You know, I notice those same people who want to use New American Standards there don’t like it too well in Ephesians chapter 2, when it talks about sinful nature and they sure don’t like it in I Corinthians 7 when it talks about the one who is released from a marriage, that they’re able to remarry because the word has to do with loosed. It’s not a good translation of that. One can be loose from a wife without ever having had one before. But when you use the term released from a wife, it suggests that you had one before, doesn’t it? New American Standard’s a poor translation in regard to that, and it’s a poor translation here, if someone understands by the word divorce, that we’re talking about a civil procedure. Jesus didn’t. The Pharisees talked about that, Jesus didn’t talk about that. When you look at the difference between the two, one has to do with principle, the other has to do with an application.
Now, someone comes along and says, ‘I think it’s a good idea for the innocent party to initiate that action, for them to secure that action. I’m going to say, ‘that’s fine.’ I think that’s a good idea, too, to tell you the truth. That’s what I’ve suggested to people who are the innocent party in a divorce for the cause of fornication, consistently.
I don’t have any problem with the advice that it would be a good idea, any more that I have a problem with saying, ‘maybe you ought to be one who’s out here, and given the present distress, you not marry right now.’ No problem with that either. When I take that and I say, ‘Now you’ve got to do that to obey God’s law,’ now I’ve got something I can’t prove. No more than I can prove you are forbidden to marry. You see the point? Isn’t that easy? No difficulty about that at all.
So, what we’re talking about depends. Are we talking about matters of principle? We can’t tolerate dif-different conclusions. Or are we talking about matters of application of that principle that are left out in an area unspecified by God – Jesus did not specify procedure. I can’t either. And yet, when we do, there will be division that will arise. It will arise whenever one looses principles of doctrine, or it’ll come about whenever one binds specific applications left generic. Either one of those will cause problems. Why? Because there’s either an addition or a subtraction to the will of God. We not, may not add thereto and we may not subtract there from.
Now, folks we need to be very serious. This is not a matter of justifying our own idea. This is not a matter of coming along and having a cute little argument that somehow gets to a point where we think it might just get everybody persuaded. What we’re talking about is handling divine truth. Now, let’s be honest and let’s be serious. Let’s recognize that there is a principle of doctrine involved, and that we need to stand by that, not loose it one whit.
But there are also matters that have to do with applications of generic principles, with those things not specified, details not given by Christ, and we dare not add to that either. There are attempts to loose principles of truth, as we have pointed out, down by God. Some of that would happen out in the world, when they want homosexual marriage. Nobody has a right to pass a law for homosexual marriages, God disdains it. God never gave that authority. And no one has the right to keep that, everybody here would commit with that.
There is no right of the guilty party to remarry. When someone says that that principle needs to be loosed and allow that guilty party, no sir, it does not. Or an alien sinner, some subsequent marriage out there, whatever it might be, the one not bound by God’s law, or baptism cleansing all of that, there’s no unity that’s possible in that kind of doctrinal error. That’s not going to happen. Why? Because they’ve loosed the doctrine of God.
But let me suggest to you something else. There are also current attempts to bind human additions to God’s law, and that’s present among our brethren and you need to understand that. And I’m going to quote a few to make points that point very clear as to what I’m talking about.
This came out (what is it today, is it the 10th?) two days ago. Brother Don Martin in Denver (I’ve held two meetings for that congregation), was asked a question by a man on his website, the man asked the question, ‘My wife left me for another man and promptly filed for and received a divorce. She was committing adultery before she left and received a divorce before I responded. Can I remarry? If not, why was the adultery exclusion added to Matthew 19:9?’ Here’s brother Martin’s response: ‘Some believe that since your mate committed adultery before she put you away, that you are free to put away and marry another, however, this is not what Matthew 19:9 teaches. Every state with which I am familiar allows some waiting time between the filing and the issuance of the civil divorce document. I believe, alas, that you should have been active before the whole divorce process became history. You are now a put away person and according to Matthew 19:9, are not allowed to put away and subsequently marry another.’
You see what he’s doing? He’s equating the i- here’s put away, that means the divorce action. You didn’t file over here, you didn’t take the action in the court, and you didn’t do it before the judge’s gavel came down, so now you have no right to remarry. Was his wife guilty of adultery? Was it the cause? He admits it, and the man says it, ‘that’s the reason she left me, she was committing adultery with another man.’
Folks, for the life of me, how in the world can someone calling himself a gospel preacher say that, in answer to what the word of God says very clearly in Matthew 19 that we just looked at. For the life of me, I can’t see that. What I do see, is that somebody’s looking at Matthew 19:9 in the word of God, and somebody is looking at the timeframe, the actions that are out here by civil law. Since when did God give over to civil law the right to declare who’s to take what action, how it’s to be seen, what the time frame is, where it’s to be taken, who’s to rule upon it, how it’s to be ruled upon, how the filing is to take place, when it is, who’s to do it? We don’t find any of that in the word of God.
What we ought to ask ourselves is one question, ‘What’s the cause for this?’ This fellow says, ‘the cause, she was committing adultery. She went out there to live with that other fellow’ and here’s a gospel preacher saying, ‘no, still didn’t have a right to remarry.’ If that’s not focusing on what the Pharisee’s said rather than what Jesus said, please tell me what it is. That misses the truth of God’s word. The binding of human additions can be found when one makes the cause of fornication irrelevant, and that’s what that last case just did. ‘I know the committing of adultery was there, I know that’s the reason for it.’ ‘That’s irrelevant.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Didn’t go through the right procedure.’
That’s a binding of something that’s not found in God’s law. That’s a part of human binding and additions to the word of God. When one comes along and binds a court and a procedure of modern origin into a passage, when neither of them existed, he’s added to the word of God. When one comes along and says you’ve got the necessity of taking some action, doesn’t say what it is, someone will say ‘you must initiate it,’ some will say, ‘no, you don’t need to initiate it, but you need to counter file,’ some will say, ‘no, you don’t need initiate, you don’t need to counter file, you need to be one who stands up in the courtroom sometime and says, now the real reason this is taking place is because that person committed adultery.’ Now, which is it? And you know what, they can’t prove a bit of it. Because none of them are said in the word of God.
Then there’s another one comes along and says, ‘no not only do you need to initiate it, you need to take it, it need to be on the divorce paper, but you need to put fornication there on the divorce papers because that civil action is putting away. And if it’s to be done for the cause of fornication, then that has to be on the divorce papers.’
I would love to see one of these fellows say (who either says you’ve got to initiate it, you’ve got to counter file), I would love to see them in an argument with somebody who says it has to be that fornication is on the papers and find them arguing from God’s word and see what they’re going to turn to. One says the scripture teaches this, one says the scripture teaches this, and the scripture teaches neither.
What’s the only way we can look at it scripturally? God’s word talks about cause. That’s where we focus, and we leave it there. When one builds a timeframe and says when that judges brings the gavel down, that’s when everything is judged by, and you’ve got to act before that process finishes (by that judge gaveling it), where is that in the word…”
(Tape one, side two ends here. Tape two, side one begins immediately below - jhb.)
“down, that they finally went apart from one another. Why’d it happen? If that happened for any other reason than fornication or adultery took place back there, and now, we’re severing from one another for that cause, nobody has the right to remarry. If that’s the reason it took place, the innocent does. Simple. No problem when we look at God’s word.
Here’s another thing, let me suggest with you for a minute that we have this fellow who wrote brother Martin, and this fellow had written a little bit something more. Let’s suppose he had said to brother Martin, ‘now, here’s what I did, I let her go out and take care of the civil court, but I wrote down on a piece of paper the reason why I am no longer going to be your husband is because of your adultery. You’re the cause of this,’ and then he put it in her hand. Now, does that fellow have a right to remarry?
Evidently, brother Martin says no. But what was the procedure that Jesus was talking about at that very time? That was it. It wasn’t a procedure in a court; it was that personal, one on one procedure that was there, handed - are you telling me that a man could do the very thing that one could do in the New Testament time that Jesus told them, ‘you put her away for this cause,’ and that’s how he would have done it, that would have been good then; not good now. Why? If that’s not changing the word of God, and by admission, taking something that was true in Biblical times and making it false today, by the changing laws of man, what is it? Now, isn’t that simple? There isn’t any difficulty with that.
When we come along and we forbid marriage to an innocent in a case where marriage is sundered for the cause of fornication, we’re speaking against Jesus. In Biblical terms, that’s blasphemy, that’s speaking against the will of God, that’s fables, it’s that which stands in contrast to God’s law, that’s lies, it is not the truth. And brethren, that’s serious and we need to be wary of it.
Here’s another one. Brother Jeff Belknap said ‘God’s will is for us to obey the higher powers, even though they may nullify our God-given liberties.’ Now the idea is, here’s some innocent party out here and this innocent party is forbidden from taking the civil action because that guilty already has. Now this civil law has defined who the party is that put away, ‘cause that’s to be seen as the civil action, you see, and so now here’s this admittedly innocent individual, this one who the other one has committed fornication, and that’s the cause for this divorce, that’s the cause for the putting away, that’s the cause for the sundering, but this innocent can’t marry. Why? Because civil law defined it that way, it nullified God’s law.
[What I was discussing in my article quoted above, God Given Rights Nullified By Man’s Wrongs is post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication. (I iterate and reiterate this scenario throughout the article.) However, Harry’s reference to my quote implies to the reader (who is not familiar with Harry’s vernacular) that my article dealt with a scenario in which fornication takes place before the unscriptural divorce has been finalized. Brother Harry did not specify whether he was speaking of fornication which takes place before the unscriptural divorce or that which follows an unscriptural divorce. Although brother Osborne focuses on the more emotional, less extreme scenario of post-divorce “putting away” for pre-divorce fornication, he vigorously defends all of brother Ron Halbrook’s applications, which clearly include post-divorce “putting away” for fornication which takes place after the unscriptural divorce. Notice Harry’s approval of this position, at the following link: An excerpt from Ron Halbrook's rebuttal to Bob Owen jhb.]
There are many other examples of divine rights which have been taken away from God’s people due to human injustices. Somebody says, ‘well now, what’s the big problem with that?’ You know it’s true that somebody’s been killed unjustly out there by civil law, so what’s the big problem? Maybe that’s all that’s being said. No, in the context of obeying the law, what’s happening is they’re making civil law that which is interposed on top of the divine law of God. And somebody says, that just doesn’t seem so bad. Alright now if that doesn’t seem so bad, sounds so harmless, let’s see the application here.
Many of you are familiar with this statement from an article that, ah, was given. I’m not going to call the name of the young man who wrote it simply because I have a hope that he will come out of this and I want to try to give him time to do that. The others have had their time and chose not to. But this fellow says, ‘We often get wrapped up in scenarios that lead us to false conclusions. No scenario can change divine truth.’ I’ll say, amen that far. That’s exactly right. Now look at, “Marriage is a liberty, not a command. If a country outlawed marriage, then a Christian would have to obey that law, Romans 13:1-5. The scriptural divorce’, or ‘A scriptural divorce is a liberty. If a country outlawed divorce for any reason, then Christians would have to abide by that law, Romans 13:5, 1-5.’
You know what that does? That says any time a government decides there is no marriage here, and that’s happened repeatedly with slavery. That happened in Nazi Germany. That happens in other places, where if you’re one who’s part of an undesirable (and many times Christians have been that), you can’t do this. Was it still true that marriage is to be had in honor by all? Yeah, God’s word said so. Is it true to avoid fornication, let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband? Yes. Doesn’t say somebody else’s husband. Doesn’t say somebody else’s wife. Doesn’t say as many wives or husbands as you want, but you have a right to one. That is God-given. That is ordained of God as divine liberty. It is authorized of God, it’s that which He declared, and no man can overrule that. And the same goes with the right to put away one for the cause of fornication. When I make human law that which comes in on top of divine law, I’ve deified human law, I’ve lowered divine authority, and I’ve opened the door for more additions to come. That’s exactly what’s happened. And that’s the danger of the hermeneutic that’s taking place among the people of God today. The attempts to bind specific applications that are not given by God, the attempt to make civil procedure equal to Biblical putting away, is that which is not stated in scripture. It’s an addition, it’s that which goes beyond the word of God.
The innocent party needing to initiate that civil action is not found in the word of God. It is not given in the truth. Jesus never specified that. It’s an addition. The idea of the timing, that all of it ends at the gavel of the judge, where’s that found in the word of God? It’s not there, folks. It’s something that simply is not found, it’s an addition.
That no marriage is there if a person goes out here and they’re involved in this adulterous marriage, not a marriage that’s seen by God as right in his sight, but here’s this person out here and they say, ‘hey, I haven’t got any right to this, because this person’s been married before.’ Some of our brethren are telling us now, if they get out of that without that person committing adultery and severing that marriage for the cause of fornication, and them being the one to put away, then they don’t have any right to be married for the first time, as God would view it as acceptable. That’s not what the Bible says. Each one has a right to a marriage that is acceptable in the sight of God. God granted that liberty and no man, through his odd way of looking at the word of God, can take that away.
When one says that civil law supercedes, like the previous article says, divine liberty to marry, they’ve gone beyond the word of God. They’ve added to it. When one says we’ve got to consider all civil law to interpret Bible, (someone says, ‘who’s saying that?,’ that’s the effect, somebody might not agree with that, but if their idea is divine liberties are superceded by the law of the land, every time that I see a divine liberty, in order to understand what that passage is, what I’ve got to do is I’ve got to say, well give me all the civil law applicable to the place that I’m at so that I can interpret the scripture correctly.’) That’s not how you interpret the scripture. That’s an addition to the word of God. When that takes place, no unity is possible when there are additions to the word of God. That’s a sad fact.
Now it may be that one comes along and says, ‘you know, for me, I’m going to live with this restriction in my life.’ Fine. I will too. Frankly, there are opinions that I have, there are matters that have to do with that which is what I would bind on myself that are far more than what I’d ought to bind on somebody else. And you’re not going to hear about ‘em from this pulpit because of one thing, they are my opinion. They’re what I would say for myself. I have no right to bind that on anyone else. Folks, there are people out there who start to disturb the people of God by making additions and causing this idea, you’ve got to initiate, you’ve got to take this civil action, you’ve got to take that civil action, you’ve got to do it before a judge bangs his gavel, or whatever it might be that’s added to the word of God. They’ve taken away from the central point, here’s a doctrine that is according to godliness.
When that man wrote brother Martin, and said ‘my wife’s out there committing adultery, she left me for that man, she took the proceedings, but that’s the cause for this divorce, that’s the cause for us living apart, that’s the cause for this sundering of this relationship,’ and I say that doesn’t matter, you tell me how much that leads in the way of godliness. It doesn’t. It makes procedure elevated over godliness. That’s a characteristic of error, not a characteristic of the truth.
What we need to do is fight the good fight of faith but stay away from needless disputes. Keep ourselves avoiding from the binding of human additions. That’s what must be so. When we look to the word of God and decide for what we must contend, let’s go back to what Jude said. ‘Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith.” The faith which was delivered in the courthouse? The faith that was delivered in a state law section? The faith that was delivered in the constitution? The bill of rights, federal law? ‘Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.’ If it’s a part of modern renovation, and a part of modern appeals, you can leave it out of the word of God, folks. Let’s live by God’s word. We can unite on that. We can join together with that, and we can hold up hands of unity and stand for the truth. And lead the world unto the way of righteousness found in God’s word without any additions or subtractions there from.
You’ve been very kind and very patient, and I’ve gone way beyond the time and I apologize again for it. I don’t know of any way to make this something that’s brought down and something that I can cover in just about an hour or so. If I did, I certainly would do it. But I thank you for your kind attention all through this. Again, if there’s anyone who wants to discuss this, if you think I’ve not represented the word of God correctly, I’ll be ready to discuss it as long as you want to. We’ll sit down with open Bibles and talk about the will of God and I hope you’ll do the same.
You may be here this evening having never responded to the gospel of Christ. Maybe you’re here yet in your sins, one not baptized into Christ, that you have never been cleansed from your sins, the stain of wrong in your life, by the blood of Jesus Christ. If you’ll come, believing that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, to repent of your sins, confess your faith and be baptized into Christ, put him on and raise to walk with Him in newness of life, then you’ll be forgiven of every wrong, every sin, and you’ll come back unto the God of heaven, right and holy in His sight.
If you’ve done that, but you’ve left that way, you’ve gone into the world and you need to come back, confessing wrong, if you repent of it, and you pray God for forgiveness, then you’ll be cleansed of those stains again by the blood of Jesus Christ. Calvary’s tide still can make you clean and whole and right. If it’s of a public nature, you can come and we’ll pray with you and for you. You’ll be restored to a right relationship with God, right relationship with your brethren, and you can join together with hands united behind the truth of God, to speak with one mind and one voice, that which has to do with the oracles of God. If you need to respond, we hope you will right now, while we stand, while we sing.