My Thoughts. . .
In a recent Internet forum, a participant expressed his thoughts against “liking” anything written by someone he labeled as a “liberal.” He felt that if he stated that he liked something written or stated by a liberal, even though it was true, that his action would be seen as being aligned with other things that person taught. Although that view may be held by honest and sincere individuals, it has shortcomings and inconsistencies.
Keep in mind that Luke wrote the book of Acts. In Acts 17:28 he records Paul’s quotation from the Greek poets. Since Luke included it in divine history and Paul, an inspired apostle quoted it, does that mean both men accepted all views of those Greek pagans? One might defend himself today by claiming his approval of a truthful statement by a liberal might be taken as full approval of all that liberal taught. Those who would take that false position aren’t as conservative as they think. In fact, by their innuendoes, their accepted position ends up being falsehood or gossip.
Gossip is “juicy,” and some folks enjoy the feast. The more elaborate the tale, the better its drawing power. The more influential the messenger, the more undeniable it seems.
When Jesus proclaimed the church in Sardis as “dead,” why would some of its members be praised as “not defiling their garments,” walking with Jesus “in white,” and being pronounced as “worthy” (Revelation 3:2, 4)? Wouldn’t their fellowship be tainted, and their souls endangered due to Jesus’ label? If that was today, there would be a fast exodus from that assembly and an immediate establishment of the true, sound Sardis church. If such a modern event took place, would those who were fleet of faith be faithful? How can one be “in white,” “worthy” and not be “defiled” by remaining in a dead body of Christ? That’s right, “a dead body of Christ.”
It is interesting that although the church in Laodicea turned Jesus’ stomach, he never told one single member to flee and flourish as a new assembly. Although the church of God in Corinth was riddled with false teaching and practice, there was only one person withdrawn from by that divisive assembly (5:1-11). They had the fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread every first day of the week, but they were not partaking of the Lord’s supper. Despite their multiple sins, committed month after month, not once were they commanded nor suggested to establish a true church. Other churches of God were not commanded to withdraw fellowship from them. Not one evangelist or apostle was warned to not work with them. None of our modern labels of “unfaithful,” “not sound,” or “an apostate” were used to describe them. No, Paul referred to them as “the church of God” or “the body of Christ.” Even when they received the second letter, they were not free of their false teaching and practices. In fact, Paul warned them what would happen when he came (13:1-2). They still had Holy Spirit inspired prophets, language speakers, interpreters, and such.
The Bible student will notice that Luke and Paul used a quote from pagans to fill out their statement in the seventeenth chapter of Acts. They were not accused by conservative brethren of believing the false teachings those pagans believed. Faithful members could be a part of a dead body of Christ without losing their standing with God, another could make Jesus sick, but not yet be punished, and a badly denominated congregation could be commanded to discipline only one member despite their sinful practices and beliefs.
Perhaps we have not restored New Testament Christianity as correctly as some believe.