"They shall not pass." With these words, the late brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr., would describe his intended course of action toward the teachings and practices of those who, in his day, were propagating scriptural error. Brother Wallace was steadfast in his determination to halt religious error, whatever it might be, from proceeding further. The error would not be ignored, but addressed, answered, and repudiated, and its influence decimated.
In this, many solid proclaimers of truth and defenders of the faith were quite successful! We applaud and appreciate their valiant efforts and shall ever be grateful for their strong stand. We could note many among us today who are engaged in precisely the same defense of gospel truth; their efforts, too, are esteemed highly by faithful brethren.
The unfortunate truth is that apostasy is always a threat! There have always been, and will always be, some who will cease to be content with God's way. There are some among us today, previously stalwart professors of truth, who now set forth uncertain sounds. Some are quite prominent, utilizing their position to lead people away from God's plan and pattern. Many have passed, wielding great influence for error among countless individuals and congregations through the land. How do we keep false teachers from "passing"?
1. ELDERS MUST STAND! Elders, having great responsibility in the affairs of the congregation they shepherd, must "nip in the bud" any false teaching that arises. If the weeds of false doctrine are not eradicated, they will grow. Scripturally sound and steadfast elders must stop false teaching at its very inception, and are specifically charged by the God of heaven to do so - to "be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers," for there are some "whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not ..." (Titus 1:9, 11). These "unruly and vain talkers and deceivers" (Titus 1:10) must be confronted, their error rebuked, and no congregation in the land would be infiltrated by false teachers if this divinely commissioned duty were faithfully discharged. Elders have it within their power to keep error from passing by.
2. PREACHERS MUST STAND! Any preacher who won't teach and preach the full truth of God's Word is disobeying his Biblical charge (2 Timothy 4:1-5) and is unfit of the description "gospel preacher." Error often begins in the pulpit by false teachers who "come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matthew 7:15), and the New Testament is replete with warnings about such (see Acts 20:28-31; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 11:3-4, 13; Galatians 1:6-9; et al.). Some, though themselves not holding to nor advocating false doctrine, have kept silent when such false doctrine was enunciated and, by extending fellowship to false teachers, have thus helped disseminate false teaching. This is a "guilt by association." The Biblical directive is clear: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11). Faithful preachers must not only hold to the truth, but they also must expose error. The New Testament contains both examples and instructions regarding the rebuke and correction of false doctrine, does it not?
3. BRETHREN MUST STAND! All of us, as brethren in the Lord's church, are specifically told what our attitude should be toward false teachers and false teaching. In 2 John 9-11, we read "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
We are to be neither dispensers nor recipients of false teaching. We are not to give, in the slightest manner or to the smallest degree, "aid and comfort" to any enemies of truth. Can false teachers and false teaching be stopped? Certainly! By faithful elders, preachers, and brethren. When they "pass," unnoticed and unhindered, someone surely bears the responsibility for such. Determine it won't be YOU! -P.O. Box 871, Flatwoods, KY 41139.
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