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                                'Contending for the Faith'

                                  'My Days and My Ways', by Robert Roberts


   I was told that I ought not to judge,   as  Christ  had  forbidden it.

   My  answer was that while we are not to judge in the sense  for-

   bidden by Christ  (i.e.  deciding in advance who are and who are

   not worthy of eternal life),    there  is  a  sense in  which we are to

   judge, as Christ indeed expressly enjoins  in saying,  "Why  do ye

   not of your own selves  judge that which  is right",   and "beware

   of false prophets,ye shall know them by  their fruits". I contend-

   ed  that  we were called upon on our own behalf to decide where

   fellowship  should  be  given  and  where  it  should  be  withheld.

   I asked:

   If  this  is  not  a true principle,whence arises the true distinction

   between the ecclesia  and the world? We come  out of the world;

   we separate from the Apostacy;     we  withdraw from  the  fellow-

   ship  of  both,  and  would  one and all refuse to resume that fell-

   owship  by  admitting  parties  belonging  to  either class into the

   ecclesia, and we would even, without dispute, refuse   to  counten-

   ance a disobedient brother.


   Paul says  to  the  Corinthians (I Epistle v. 11),  'I have written  unto you not

    to  keep company if any man that is called  a brother be  a fornicator,  or co-

    vetous,  or an idolater,  or  a railer,  or a drunkard,  or  an  extortioner,  with

    such an one no not to eat'.  Again, to the Thessalonians,  he says  (2 Epistle

    iii. 14), 'if anyone obey not our word by this epistle,  have  no company  with

    him that  he  may  be  ashamed'.  Again, verse  6,  same  chapter,  withdraw

    yourselves  from   every  brother  that  walketh  disorderly,  and not after the

    traditions he  received  of  us'. Again  (I Tim. vi. 3),  'if any man teach other-

    wise,  and  consent  not  to  wholesome  words,   even  the words of our Lord

    Jesus  Christ, and  to  the doctrine which  is  according   to  godliness, he  is

    proud,  knowing  nothing. . . . from  such withdraw thyself '.    Here are plain

    Apostolic  injunctions   which  cannot  be   carried   out   without   forming a

    judgment on the matters  involved.   For  how  shall  we  know when to with-

    draw from another, unless  we  concluded  that  a  state  of  things  justifying

    it exists? And how can  we  come  to this conclusion without  observing  and

    considering  the matters  related  to  it. The mental act  is  the  very basis of

    the withdrawal enjoined…………


    John  had  said  (2 Ep. 10, 11),   'If  there  come  any  unto you and bring not

    this   doctrine,  (that is, the truth  concerning  Christ's  manifestation  in the

    flesh),  receive  him  not into your house neither bid  him Godspeed:  for he

    that  biddeth  him Godspeed   is  partaker  of  his evil deeds'. Paul indicates

    the  same  duty  in   several   places.  He speaks of  certain  'false  brethren

    brought in'.     He says,  'to whom we gave place  by subjection, no, not for an

    hour'.  Judaistical  believers  taught  the  necessity for  being  circumcised

    and observing the law.  He says of them,  'A  little leaven leaveneth the

    whole lump. I would they were even cut off that trouble you' (Gal. vi. 9-12).


    There  is  nothing  more  conspicuous  in Paul's letters  to  Timothy, than his

    jealousy  of  those  in  the  ecclesia, and  his opposition to those whose influ-

    ence  was  detrimental to the truth.  He  says, 'hold  fast  the  form of sound

    words which thou hast heard of me,  in faith and love which is  in Christ  Je-

    sus. . . .The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the

    same commit  thou  to  faithful men, who shall  be able to teach others also. .

    . .Study to show  thyself  approved unto God,  a  workman  that  needeth not

    to  be ashamed, rightly  dividing  the word of truth.  But  shun  profane  and

    vain babblings,  for  they  will   increase  unto  more  ungodliness, and  their

    word  will  eat as doth a canker. . . .evil  men  and  seducers shall wax  worse

    and  worse,  deceiving and  being deceived.  But  continue  thou in the things

    which  thou  hast  learned. . . .Preach the  word; be  instant  in season, out of

    season; reprove,  rebuke with all long suffering and doctrine.  For  the  time

    will  come  when  they  will  not  endure sound doctrine: but after their own

    lusts shall they heap to themselves  teachers, having itching ears;  And they

    shall  turn away  their ears  from the truth, and shall be  turned unto  fables'

    (2 Tim. i. 13; ii. 2, 15-17; iii. 13, 14; iv. 2-4).


    The  same  anxiety  about preserving  the truth in its purity from the corr-

    upting  influence  of  its loose professors is manifest in his letters to Titus.

    Defining the qualifications of an elder,  he says he must be a man   'holding

    fast  the  faithful  word  as  he  hath  been  taught,        that  he may be able by

    sound doctrine to exhort and convince the gainsayers. For there are many

    unruly and vain talkers and deceivers,  specially  they of the circumcision,

    whose mouths must be stopped. . .  a  man  that  is a  heretic after the first

    and second admonition reject' (Titus i. 9, 11 : iii. 10).   To the same purpose

    are the words  of Jude,   'It  was  needful  for  me  to  write to you  that  ye

    should contend earnestly   for the   faith     which was once delivered unto the

    saints:  for  there  are  certain men crept  in unawares', etc.  (verses 3, 4).


    The Aberdeen brethren and the Dowieites themselves had  shown  their app-

    rehension of these apostolic precepts by separating from the sects and deno-

    minations of  the orthodox world.

    It  was  said  that  the Dowieites had a great part of the truth:

    this  is  not  enough. There  is  no authority for making  one part of    the truth

    less  important  than  another.   A reception  of  the  truth  on  one  point  will

    not condone  its rejection on another.  Can   we   suppose that the Judaizers

    had  no  part  of  the  truth?  Did  the  Gnostics  who  denied that Christ had

    come  in  the  flesh,  reject  the kingdom  of  God?    Did not the unbelieving

    Jew  hold  the  truth  in  great  part?     Yet Paul  counseled  withdrawal from

    them  all. Nothing  short of  fidelity  to  the whole truth can be accepted as a

    safe  policy.     'The  things  concerning  the  kingdom   of   God',  and 'those

    things that concern  our Lord Jesus Christ',      in their scriptural amplitude

    must  be  the  measure  and  standard  of  fellowship. Those who go for  less

    than this  must  be  left to themselves; in this they are not judged,  they  are

    only subjected to the  action  of  another man's conception  of duty, and  are

    left at perfect liberty  to  organize  themselves  on  whatever  they may con-

    ceive to be a scriptural basis.


    By  what  means  shall  a  community, based  on the truth,  pre-

   serve the truth  in purity in its midst?  Obviously  by the  means

   indicated by Paul and John, that is,    by  exacting of  all who  are

   in  it   an   implicit  adherence  to  the   things,  facts,    principles,

   points, tenets, or whatever else  they may be called, which go  to

   make  up  the  truth in its entirety  and by  refusing to associate

   with those who oppose or refuse to endorse any of its elements.

   Some recommend in opposition to this the employment of argument with

    those who may be in error.  As  a  preliminary process, common wisdom

    and humanity would dictate this course; but if an ecclesia is to go no fur-

    ther than argument, how could its existence continue?     An  effort  would

    doubtless  be  put  forth  to  reclaim  those  who are in error; but,  where

    those  efforts  fail,  dissociation  by  withdrawal is natural and inevitable.


    The ecclesia is  not  a place for argument;  it is for worship in

    agreement. When  a man requires to be argued with,  his na-

     tural place is outside,  and  if  he will not go outside,  separa-

    tion must  be enforced by withdrawal on the part of the rest.

    Division is  the inevitable concomitant of an uncompromising

    adherence to the truth.  Peace purchased at the cost of com-

    promise is doubly dangerous.


    The truth  is  the  standard   and must alone be allowed to rule.

    All doubt ought to be solved in its favour.  This is the principle

    of action to which study will ultimately lead.

    The  action  of  separation  is  not  an  act  of  judgment  against  those   from

     whom we may separate.  It  is  an  act  of  self-vindication,  an  act by  which

     we  discharge a duty and  wash our hands  of evil.  The  truth  has  gradually

     emerged  from  the  fables  in which for centuries  it had been lost, and only

     an inexorable policy on the part of  those receiving it will pre-

    serve it from a recurrence of the disaster which  drove it from

    among men shortly after the days of the Apostles. 


     The above article was re-printed & fully endorsed in

    'The Christadelphian', July 1945 - link to

                                          'Words from Sounder Days' for more details.

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