BE WATCHFUL OF A SHEEP THAT OUT-SHEEPS SHEEP
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Mt. 7:15-20).
A couple of days ago a brother handed me two sheets of paper (printed on both sides,) requesting that I read and comment on the contents in this issue. He said he obtained the pages from “Facebook.” He knew that I do not read that particular media nor use the Internet to but a very limited extent. Thus, this article is born and sent forth for the consideration of our respected readers. I do not choose to publish the pages fully. The space available limits what can be referred to and commented upon.
It needs to be said that the author of the piece has shown previously and demonstrates presently that he is quite disgruntled because his brethren in general have not swallowed his teaching and practices of stretching and perverting the Lord’s word. He (obviously) wishes to be accepted by the faithful without paying attention to what he does and the things for which he contends, but because of WHO HE IS. He reverts to name calling and innuendoes to gain a following of the gullible who are not as he says “seeing the whole picture, or not knowing the whole story.” My first recollections of the author was in the spring of 1963, when I spent 10 days in his home, enjoying the hospitality of his gracious wife, children and himself. In addition to being in his home several times since, I was there in 1969 when LIBERALISM was raising its head up and down California. Three men caught my attention standing like a rock for truth against LIBERALISM’S advances. Along with others, was (the lamented) Orville Lee Smith, Paul Nichols and the author of the Facebook article. Making a turn-about the author now embraces, teaches and encourages the principles he once opposed. In addition, he condemns those who are standing for the truth as he then did without flinching. That being said, let’s compare the article with New Testament teaching.
OUT-SHEEPING A SHEEP
By out-sheeping sheep, I mean that one who goes to great pains to show himself a sheep ought to cause one to take pause. I recall that a preacher brother (now deceased) was widely known for imitating other preachers and brethren by emphasizing an oddity overmuch. This would bring a smile or chuckle to listeners. When a brother continually speaks of his “sheepishness,” I must question whether he is really a sheep. How long will it take some Christians to realize that a wolf adorned in sheep’s clothing comes in that garb so that people will not know he is a wolf?
The article begins, “PHARISEEISM, POLITICS IN RELIGION, PREJUDICE, HYPOCRISY—GUILTY OF ALL, now forgiven, I’m done.” Since he recognizes that he has been guilty of these things, I rejoice with him that he has stopped. He says, “now forgiven,” I certainly hope that in addition to asking God’s forgiveness that he has gone to those he wronged and has made a public confession of these things (Js. 5:16-20). Just saying “I’M DONE’ doesn’t end the matter. May I add, while I am concerned for his soul, the teaching he now advocates involves others that listen to him. Extinguishing a candle leaves him in the dark as well as refusing light to others. Unless he with abandon renounces what he is advocating, other precious souls are going to be lost.
DRAWING LINES AGAINST THOSE WHOSE COROPRATE WORSHIP IS THE SAME
The writer asserts “We draw lines against those whose corporate worship is the same as ours (“in spirit and in truth”) and we ought not, even though many practices outside may be questionable, or even wrong.” Upon seeing this, the first thing that popped into my mind was; what is “corporate worship?” I read of the necessity of worship, the items of worship, disciples gathering to worship, perversions of worship, will worship, vain worship, etc., etc. But, I have never read anything in the New Testament about “corporate worship.” Webster says, “corporate, adj. to make into a body.” And, here all these years I thought worship was the gathering of the body to praise God in spirit and in truth rather than to make into a body. Oh, well, one never gets too old to learn. At any rate, he clearly believes that as long as the worship is scriptural (at least close), a line or circle cannot be drawn on anything else. Noting some who commended him and their progressive ways, one must wonder how long the author will be willing to draw a line or circle regarding that (?)!
The reasons given for desisting from drawing lines are:
- If I started drawing lines like this, I would not know where to stop.
- This was the status quo before the Dark Ages.
- Christ and Paul did not draw lines for things outside corporate worship.
Taking these up in the above order, if I started drawing lines like this I would not know where to stop. A strange statement for one to make who had just said, “I have been in the Kingdom for 75 years.” What has the brother been reading? Answer: something other than the New Testament! We know where to START drawing lines; it is where scripture tells us to START drawing them. And, we STOP drawing lines where they tell us to STOP drawing lines. Is that so difficult? I can understand that those who make no attempt to follow the word of God have this difficulty because then personalities, or to use the brother’s words a “buddy-crony” system” must be adopted resulting in “our weakness in doing what pleases men and not doing what pleases the Lord, our unwillingness to do what is right, lest we fall into disfavor with friends and others.” Is this not an effort to out-sheep sheep?
Number 2; this was the status quo before the Dark Ages. Since our brother wrote earlier in his article about “condemning without a hearing, misrepresentations, false accusations, not seeing the whole picture, not knowing the whole story,” how can he make such a comment? Maybe, just maybe he is NOT DONE yet. Does he know or has he taken the word of another, perhaps another person that commented centuries after the fact, about the events before the Dark Ages. I am not saying his accusation is false, I merely want to know if he applies the rule he imposes on others to reaching such a conclusion himself? Or, is it an attempt to out-sheep a sheep?
Number 3; Christ and Paul did not draw lines for things outside corporate worship. Taking these one at a time? Christ taught us how to handle the situation when a brother trespasses against us, Mt. 18:15-17. After going alone to the brother without a good result, witnesses are to be taken to rectify the problem. If that fails, then the matter is rehearsed before the church. I suggest that before this it had not been considered within the worship (a church gathering). If there was no settlement, the erring brother was regarded as a heathen man and a publican. Was that a line drawn or was it not? Was there a difference in worship between the brothers or with the church? The scriptures do not indicate it. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). If a man loves the Lord he will obey and draw a line or he will go along as though nothing occurred since this was outside the assembly. What the brother advocates is disobedience to Christ. It is time that we do what the Lord said instead of trying to out-sheep a sheep.
In reference to Paul, “Of whom is Hymenenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (I Tim. 1:20). Was there a line drawn or was there not? Where is the giant that will aver that these men did not worship exactly as the Apostle? Perhaps our brother knows something that readers of the New Testament do not know. Or, was it that Paul continued his Pharisaical ways after his conversion. There is not space to copy I Cor. 5, so, I ask you to please turn and read the verses as I mention them. V 1 the happenings at Corinth were reported to Paul. He did not know them first hand, nor did he contact them face to face. Clearly, the sin mentioned did not occur when the church gathered to worship, therefore, the sin was committed outside worship. V 2 the perpetrator was to be taken away from them. Could this be done without drawing a line or circle? V 3 Paul was not there (did not know all the details,) yet judged the situation. V 4-5 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (or by the authority of Christ,) they were to deliver the sinful one unto Satan. If that is not drawing a line, I need someone to explain how it could be done. The condemned man was separated from the saved. A circle or line had been drawn. V 6-7 The sin (likened unto leaven,) was to be purged out. How? By drawing a line or circle. V 9-11 the faithful are to be and remain separated from the sins (sinners) mentioned, or they were to draw a line or a circle. Was Paul prejudice or practicing politics in religion? Could it have been that he was a plain old hypocrite? Was he so narrow-minded that he did not see the whole picture? Methinks he knew enough of the story to make a sound and righteous judgment. In fact, we are told that the things he wrote unto them “are the commandments of the Lord.” If anyone tries to out-sheep a sheep, he is disobedient to the Lord Jesus Christ by whose authority the Apostle wrote.
To assert with boldness, “Christ and Paul did not draw lines, nor command, nor recommend that others do the same in our day…”is NOT TRUE. There has never been a statement made that is any more the opposite of the teaching of our dear Savior and the Apostle Paul. The statement belies the facts and is said only to be receive by the gullible and unsuspecting. Talk about a wolf out-sheeping a sheep.
CONTESTING PREACHERS, EDITORIAL PRACTICES, AND CONGREGATIONS
He writes of preachers who will not preach at certain places “because of what others might say or think.” I wonder if the author has taken his own advice by confronting these preachers face to face. Since these preachers are not named, I cannot make a comment. As for myself, I will not go to places were I known (at least in my mind,) that nothing can be accomplished. What others say, has never bothered me nor altered my course. Pity the man that allows popular opinion to govern his decision in these matters. The author brings up preachers going or not going due to money.
Having traveled the same circles (I know he doesn’t like that word,) as the author I find this to be a dissembler accusation, as the author has asked for money, written for money and moved Meetings around for financial reasons. Are the legs of the lame equal? Is this complaint an effort to out-sheep a sheep? About congregations barring preachers—is that not their right, or, is the government of a congregation dependant upon some preacher? Can a preacher demand to be called to preach a meeting over the will of a church? Out-sheeping a sheep reveals some fangs here. He writes, “Religious journal editorial practices are not helping heal our land either.” That is silly, as he has been in that position and he denied certain brethren and particular articles that would have brought havoc among believers. It is clear; however, that the author means that healing is accomplished by religious papers printing everything submitted by everybody, himself especially. He knows better! Such a statement made before the public wounds rather than heals, as the author should know. The effort is to out-sheep a sheep. He says his love for his cronies and buddies is so true that he “would step up in their places, facing a firing squad. I love them that much, but my cronies and buddies did not shed one drop of redeeming blood for me, and die for me.” Perhaps his cronies and buddies realize that Jesus DID shed His blood for the author and what is he doing? He turned his back on Christ, and His word chose error in its place. John, the disciple of love wrote, “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (I Jn. 5:3). The kind of love our brother exhibits is emotional rather than obedient. Is this to out-sheep a sheep?
Barney Owens 1212
It is impossible to defend the indefensible.