by Robert F. Turner
Nathan's subject was adultery, murder, and kindred lusts; but he spoke of a little ewe lamb which a rich man took from the bosom of its owner. (2 Sam. 12:) The problem was that of application-- getting the audience to apply to self the standard by which others were readily condemned.
Nathan's audience deplored "sin", and could list many sins. Nathan's courage as a preacher" was little tested by a rip-snorting sermon on, "Adultery"; but when he told the King "Thou art the man"-- aye, here was his moment of truth.
John (the Immerser) could decry the awful sins of the times, and call upon people to "REPENT!"-- out there in the wilderness-- and King Herod be unmoved. But John said unto Herod, "it is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." (Mk. 6:18)
Several years ago, one of "our" ultra-liberal preachers criticized John's direct "approach"-- suggesting John need not have "lost his head." In a sense he was right about that. John could have spoken in generalities, kept his head, and perhaps his "job''-- but he would have failed his appointed purpose, lost his soul. Nathan and John used different ways of reaching their targets; and different means of presenting truth are needed today. But both presented and applied the truth. When they were finished the audience knew what was wrong, and felt the sting of rebuke.
Today preachers speak of "sectarianism" without explaining that this spirit lives in the "party" concept of the church. They cry for "unity" but refuse open discussion of issues that divide, with God's word the final authority. This is hypocrisy.
Tell the people they must Do Bible Things In Bible Ways -- and they will love you. Tell them a church-sponsored skating party is not a Bible Thing; and church support of human institutions is not a Bible Way; and you may lose your "job", but you will have served your purpose as a preacher.
Oh John!! Nathan!! Your kind are sorely needed in this generation!!
On Being Neutral
by Robert F. Turner
"You are on the right road, and whatever you do, don't let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it.
I have tried. I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I've never held membership in a congregation that uses instrumental music. I have, however, accepted invitations to preach without distinction between churches that used it and churches that didn't.
I've gone along with their papers and magazines and things of that sort. During all these years I have taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who has passed through the college of the Bible. Yet I do not know of more than six of them who are preaching the truth today.
It won't work."
Brother J. W. McGarvey gave this advice to bro. J. P. Sewell in 1902, when brother Sewell was preaching for the Pearl and Bryan Streets church in Dallas. It is taken from brother Sewell's lecture, "Biographical Sketches of Restoration Preachers" given at Harding College in 1950. Referring to this advice, brother Sewell closed his lecture with the following words: "This experience has been an inspiration to me, when I was ever tempted to turn aside and go along with error, to remember the warning of this great old man."
From an article by
James E. Cooper,
The Proclaimer, San Antonio, Dec. '63. Established -- (from pg. 4)
this, they are denied the fellowship of Christians. (1 Cor. 5:) A congregation of Christians who, collectively, no longer act in keeping with God's will is unworthy of a name and place among the churches of Christ. (Rev. 2) The Lord's church consists of people identified with the truth -- not just a people identified with a party.
God's Establishment Unchanged
What God established -- truth -- the New Covenant -- never changes. (1 Pet. 1:23-f) But the party -- the people could fall away. (1 Tim. 4:1-f) First their attitude toward divine authority is altered, then their practices, then, usually many years later, their terminology. Because the rule is one thing, and the people who supposedly follow the rule is another, Paul said we must not measure ourselves by ourselves. (2 Cor. 10:12-f)
One may "stay with the building" "stay with the preacher" "stay with the elders" "stay with 90% of the people" -- and yet leave the church which God established. In fact, this is precisely the history of denominationalism with its creed-bound people.
Christians today need to restudy their conception of Christ's church. We must rededicate ourselves, not to some "party" but to the Christ, and to His cause. I must know the truth, and obey it, regardless of the action of others---"in the church" or out of it. I must remember that it is the purified and cleansed church-- not the "party"-- that Christ promises to save eternally. (Eph. 5:26-27) What God really established is firm and sure, and cannot be shaken. Heb. 10:28
Plain Talk; January 1963