The Fear of Man — The Praise of Man

No child of God can be wholly true to his convictions and altogether honest in his Bible study, if in any way he is numbered with those mentioned in Jude 16, “having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” Spiritual tact is always a virtue, but most religious diplomacy is equivalent to compromise and cowardice. Humanly speaking, nothing is more beneficial than sweet spiritual fellowship with fellow-members of the Body of Christ, but when that fellowship is maintained at the cost of compromise with God’s truth, with disobedience, or silence concerning some God-given conviction, it borders on fellowship with darkness. Shame on any servant of the Lord who turns from Divine light received by hearing the Word of God because of advantage, fear or praise of men. In John 12:42 and 43, we have the record of those miserable religious cowards at the time Christ was here on earth: “many believed on Him but they did not confess Him … For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

For this same reason there are many servants of the Lord today who cling to a program and message of grace and religion mixed. Such a mixture is an abomination in the sight of the Lord; but to religious or semi-religious people it is an inoffensive message. Paul, in writing to the Galatians, declared that religion would remove the offense from the cross. This is exactly what Satan wants the Christian to do; that is, to mix in with the grace of God enough religion to frustrate that grace. In that same Epistle, Paul said, “if I please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.

For a good position, for more recommendations and less condemnation, for more and larger audiences and more and larger offerings, it is a great temptation to preach sermons that will please the committee appointed to select the pastor or evangelist and to be careful not to offend the good givers.

In that same Epistle to the Galatians we find a splendid example of a servant of the Lord, one of the “big” leaders trying a bit of religious diplomacy. Read Galatians 2:9 to 15. Peter walked not uprightly according to God’s truth, “fearing them which were of the circumcision.” Peter received a very severe, but a just, rebuke for this compromise. Perhaps he was saying within himself, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” But when the “circumcision”, or the “water baptizers” or “sabbath-keepers”, or any kind of religious leaders, get after the Bible teacher or Christian worker, who is satisfied with Christ and His pure message of grace, without religious fetters, woe unto him. Religious people do know how to persecute. Religion in the believer always counteracts the fruit of the Spirit and changes love into hate.

Surely we must admire Paul for his bold, noble, uncompromising stand against the pillars of the church and the religious “somewhats”. Galatians 2:6 to 9. But it cost him some friends, including Barnabas. And what it cost him to completely deliver the message of grace from every religious entanglement, including legalism, ritualism, signs and ordinances, is told in any II Timothy 1:15: “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me.” At that time Paul was in prison for preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ and proclaiming the mystery, which was a message from the risen Christ that superseded all of the religious program foretold by the prophets of Israel. Colossians 4:3; 1:24 to 29.

The “pillars” and “somewhats” in the World’s Fundamentalist Association, and in the other Fundamentalist Associations, which do not embrace so much territory, are today the great enemies of the blessed truth in the Word of God, known as “the mystery”, the Glorious truth of the believer’s full identification with Christ, by a Divine baptism not made with hands. They not only close their pulpits to that most wonderful truth of the Scriptures set forth in Ephesians and Colossians, but they boycott, persecute, ostracize and disfellowship other servants of the Lord who do. They contradict their own testimony by preaching, that the believer is accepted in Christ, complete in Christ, eternally and securely identified with Christ, as a member of His Body, blessed with all spiritual blessings and seated with Him in the highest heavenlies; all on the grounds of the shed blood of the spotless Son of God; all by the pure unmerited grace, nothing by human endeavor, practice or attainment. Yes, they claim this, but on the other hand, they withhold the right hand of fellowship from those who refuse to agree with their religious water baptism ordinance, admitting that they cannot quote one single verse of Scripture authorizing one member of the Body of Christ to baptize a believer who is already a member of that same Body. They manifest anything but the love of Christ toward the fellow-members of the same Body who are endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit on the basis of that one Divine baptism which makes believing sinners members of that Body and joined to Christ the Head.

It is just the repetition of the same old spirit mentioned in John 9:22: “for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that Jesus was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”

One of the “pillars” among the Fundamentalists of this country, who is one of the “somewhats”, has warned other Fundamentalists to shun Christians who do not accept the water ceremony and to have no fellowship with them. Pharisaism is not dead.

One brother has just written a message in which he declares that “hydrolatry is a menace to Christianity”, “the worship of water”. It is little worse than bowing before candlesticks or worshipping with incense.

Virtually all of the leaders among the Fundamentalists are agreed concerning the important fundamental doctrines, but concerning water baptism they are divided and subdivided into confusion, uncertainty and sectarianism. The Church is truly menaced with a state of Baptism Babylon, destroying the unity of members of the Body of Christ and hindering believers from obeying Ephesians 4:3 and Ephesians 3:9.

With many Christians the question is still the question of John 7:48: “have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed?” The question should be, “what saith the Scriptures, rightly divided?” The rulers and the Pharisees were wrong in those days and those who believed what they believed erred concerning the truth.

We trust that we may encourage many believers to be true Bereans and get their eyes off the “pillars” and the “somewhats”. Search the Scriptures. Remember that no man, or group of men, has reached the finality of truth. No Christian. has any monopoly on the only infallible teacher, the Holy Spirit. Some of the recognized’ “big men” among Bible teachers today are the real enemies of the most blessed truths of the Bible.

Our purpose is to stimulate, encourage, or provoke real honest-to-goodness spiritual, prayerful, first-hand Bible study. Do not fear men. Read Hebrews 13:6 and take courage: “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what men shall do unto me.” Sacrifice the praise of men for the praise of God, which shall continue into the ages to come. Do not compromise for advantage, for a job with a good income. God can still open doors. Philippians 4:19 is still true: “But my God shall supply all you need according to His riches in Glory by Jesus Christ.” Get your eyes off of men. Look unto the Author and Finisher of our faith. Be a Berean in study. Be as Timothy, a good soldier of Christ, remembering those words of Paul: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” II Timothy 1:8.

Church Creeds

Church creeds may be both a help and a hindrance to Bible study. They may both aid and limit the honest searcher after Divine truth. God’s truth cannot be fully set forth in a set of church rules and a written doctrinal statement. We simply state some things we do believe and some things we do not believe:

1—We believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible.

2—We believe in the eternal Deity, Virgin birth and sinlessness of the Lord Jesus Christ as both the eternal God and Man.

3—We believe in salvation by grace—and grace alone without works—by faith in the shed blood and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

4—We believe that He is the living glorified Man at God’s right hand, seated far above in the highest heavenlies, Head of the Church which is His Body.

5—We believe that that Church will be called on high to be with the risen Lord, like Him, to appear with Him in glory before He returns to earth as the Son of man to redeem and restore Israel.

6—We believe that the redeemed sinner, saved by grace alone, is eternally secure in Christ, accepted in Him, blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him, free from condemnation in Him. If the believer falls asleep before Christ calls the Body on high, he is immediately with the Lord. We are opposed to any and all doctrines of soul sleeping.

7—We believe that the greatest of all gifts is love and that the believer in Christ should manifest that gift and live a consistent, spiritual, separated life, ever seeking those things which are above, ever walking worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called.

8—We are uncompromisingly opposed to any doctrine of universal reconciliation which we consider a Satanic delusion. We are likewise opposed to any and all doctrines of annihilation, accepting God’s Word; eternal wrath for the lost and eternal glory for the saved.

9—Concerning “rightly dividing the Word of truth” we believe there is much to be learned.

l0—We believe it is altogether essential to distinguish between things that differ. (Philippians 1:10 R.V.) One specific example is to know the difference between the call and ministry of the Twelve and Paul and to know the difference between Paul’s ministry before and after the close of the “Acts” period. We believe that members of Christ’s Body should obey Ephesians 3:9 and Ephesians 4:3 to 6.

Beware of False Prophets

There are several kinds of false prophets. There are prophets who make false statements and give false interpretations of the Word of God. There are prophets, really saved men, who make false accusations against their Christian brethren, with whom they disagree as to the application of II Timothy 2:15: “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Being unable to answer their brethren with the Word of God, they resort to exaggerations and false charges as to their teaching. They try to intimidate Christians who are untaught and unestablished and keep them from obeying God’s Word as expressed in Ephesians 4:3 and Ephesians 3:9, by maligning and misrepresenting servants of the Lord who would do the will of God and lead Christians into the deeper truths of God. They scare poor ignorant believers with the cry of “Bullingerism. “An example of this is the ungracious and unjust statements in the recent booklet of a Fundamental brother, called “Wrongly Dividing the Word of God.” He is apparently little concerned about contradicting his own teaching in other written messages in order to prejudice and intimidate Christians to keep them from throwing the searchlight of Divine truth upon his own faulty interpretations.

We beg of you—Do not follow any man, or group of men, in the matter of the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. Hear spiritual men of God and then search the Scriptures and check up on them. Do not let those of reputation scare you away from the high and holy truths in God’s Book.