Does Sin Have a Name?
By Cornelius C. Abbott III
Some insist one cannot say, privately or publicly, that the saved of this earth are only members of the church of Christ or that all denominationalists are lost. In this vein, veins start popping out of some necks when you identify a heretic. It is assumed that such comments could only be made with a bad attitude.
It is interesting that Christ and his apostles engaged in such teaching of restricted favor.
One can say, either positively or negatively, privately or publicly, corporately or individually, who compose the saved and the lost. The Bible is filled with examples.
Christ condemned the Pharisees for their fake religiosity. Jesus repeatedly called them hypocrites (Luke 12:1; Matt. 23:3, 13-15). Their inward parts were full of wickedness (Luke 11:39). Jesus noted that they valued what God hated (Luke 16:15). On the mount he taught that our righteousness should exceed that of the Pharisees who were hypocrites (Matt. 5:20). He told them that harlots and publicans would enter the kingdom of heaven before them—in their presence (Matt. 21:31-32). He said they were of their father the devil (John 8:44). He told them that they had neither God's Word nor his love (John 5:38-42). He named their religious traditions "vanity" (Matt. 15:7-9).
Christ's public and direct condemnation was not reserved for the Pharisees only, but for all who rejected him. He condemned his home town (Luke 4:24-27). He censured those who followed him for his bread, but not for his power (John 6:26). He pronounced the doom upon the Jews, unless they repented (Luke 13:1-5, 34). He condemned his betrayer (Mark 14:21).
Peter noted some of his hearers killed the one approved by God (Acts 2:22-23, 36) and put to death the Prince of Life (Acts 3:14-15). Stephen told them in no uncertain terms that their rejection was simply par for course (Acts 7:51-52). Paul told the Jews in Rome that they had closed their eyes, shut their ears and hardened their hearts (Acts 28:24-27). For all history, Paul notes them as zealous but without knowledge and unsaved (Rom. 10:2-3).
We know, by Peter's word, that Simon's heart was not right with God (Acts 8:21). Paul went on record to say how Elymus perverted the right ways of God (Acts 13:10). Men such as Hymenaeus, Philetus, Alexander and Diotrephes will be known for only one thing, that being they were written up by God for all the world to see as being heretics.
Paul told the Athenian intelligentsia that they were wrong in worshiping images of stone instead of serving a living God (Acts 17:22-34). Popery is condemned (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Thess. 2:3). Jesus hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6).
It is right to point out those in sin, but the counter is true also — the nomination of those who are exclusively saved. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22). There is no difference between that situation and telling our denominational neighbors that salvation is in the church of Christ. There is a pattern for unity, which involves just one body, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God (Eph. 4:4-6). Those who reject Christ are destroyed (Heb. 10:28-31). God punished those who would destroy the church (1 Cor. 3:17). True disciples must proclaim that one is rejecting Christ and subverting his kingdom as long as he does not obey the gospel (1 Pet. 4:17; 2 Thess. 1:7-9), or by not abiding in the teaching of the New Testament (2 John 9-11).
One motive for denying the right to name the saved and identify the lost may be failing to agree with what the Bible says about redemption. Who knows but that speaking the truth in love about the exclusivity of the church might turn a heart to God. You may condemn a soul with your silence. You may hold your peace, and in so doing hold back the saving word a person may accept if only they heard the plain truth.
When many turned back and walked with Jesus no more, he was disappointed, but did not run after them and offer a compromise to get them to come back.
Published August 1996