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What Shall I Say?

By Wayne Coats

religion, articles, christianity

When Israel encountered Ai in battle, because of the sin of Achan, Israel, was defeated.

Joshua lamented, "O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies?" (Josh. 7:8). To capitulate before the enemies of truth is fought with grave consequences. No less serious and deleterious to the cause of Christ is the spirit of compromise and support given to false teachers in our brotherhood.

When men pervert the Truth of God, they are false teachers and should not be encouraged or supported. Just how much error will God tolerate? The case of Ananias and Sapphira will be the answer (Acts 5:1).

When Jehoshaphat " joined affinity with Ahab," Jehoshaphat asked, "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord" (2 Chron. 19:2). There were some "good things found in ... Jehoshaphat" (v. 3). Those good traits did not cover the bad. The worst perverter of divine truth in our brotherhood has a few good things in his life.

The church at Pergamos tolerated those who taught error. God never approves of such compromisers. His verdict: "Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth" (Rev. 2:16). God hates false doctrine.

John wrote, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed; for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 10-11).

Some of my closest friends have turned aside and have become teachers of error. Can I support them with my contributions? May I lend them support and encouragement by sitting and listening to their heresy? Why can preachers change to purveyors of error, but dare not change my pew place? "Godspeed" doesn't seem to be understood by many.

Remember the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, and the gainsaying of Korah (Jude 11)? Those fellows were a sorry lot, but there were those who "had gone in" and "ran after" them. God said, "Woe unto them."

The faithful must make tough decisions. With all the change and circus atmosphere that is being brought into the congregations along with the abandoning of the Bible in the pulpits, what can we do?

Suggestions by faithful sheep to hireling shepherds go for nought, and a word fitly spoken to the pulpit performer is like a fleeting sigh. Often the older members have toiled, sacrificed, prayed, and persisted for decades to sow the seed of the kingdom in their community. A faithful work develops and then a young, good-looking divine with all the credentials of a denominational pastor (except the clerical robe) is hired to palaver some mush. We who are older and imbued with a spirit of loyalty to God's Word shed tears of remorse. What in heaven's name can we do on earth?

I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes who loveth to have the preeminence among them receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good (3 John 9-11).

How can a brother or sister support a man like Diotrephes and "follow not that which is evil"? How can we bid Godspeed to a false teacher? But you say, "I've been a member of this congregation all my life." That is another article in which we are seriously challenged to consider whether we are converted to a congregation or to Christ, whether we are bound to a building or bound as the bride to Christ. Do we observe Christ as our Passover, or do we just sit on some padded pew?

At 85 Caleb requested a mountain with its difficulties and challenges, but many today think the mountain is too high; it is so simple just to sit silently. "What shall I say when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies?" Never a word!

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Published July 1993