They Must Be Silenced

[Article written by Matt Nevins. Originally published in his email newsletter “The Lamp.”]

Unity is precious in the sight of the Lord. John 17, commonly referred to as the Lord’s prayer, reflects the things that Christ desired for His disciples. John 17:21 states, “…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” The idea being presented is the desire for the Lord’s body to be united as one. This would be one of the defining attributes of the Lord’s special people. Paul penned in 1 Corinthians 1:10 for the Corinthian brethren to be of the same mind and judgment. The unity was to be preserved in the Lord’s body in the face of brethren wanting divisions. In order to maintain the unity of the body of Christ, there are times when it is absolutely necessary to silence those who teach error concerning the gospel of Christ. They must be silenced because false doctrine spreads as cancer in the human body!

There are brethren that will not defend the truth against error until there is a large problem in the local congregation. I do see the wisdom in not constantly hammering an error that is not a problem at the immediate present, but can we not give warnings? Paul warned brethren concerning problems before the problems arose. This could prevent the issue from becoming a large problem for the congregation. Paul warned brethren concerning bad company (1 Cor. 15:33), evildoers (Phil. 3:2), those who might teach another gospel (Gal. 1:9), the possibility of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1). Paul gave other warnings as well for the purpose of edifying the brethren. Being prepared for what is out in the world will help aid the Christian to wage a good warfare and maintain the unity of the body.

I am impressed when reading passages such as Galatians 2:5 where Paul and other faithful preachers did not yield or submit to those who were teaching error. When error is present, don’t leave it unattended, but extinguish the flame of error! When a flame goes unattended, the whole structure can burst into flame and be destroyed. We need to be watchful and ever prayerful as instructed by Paul in Ephesians 6. Are we going to be asleep at our post at this time in the war against the evil hosts?

In Titus 1, the Holy Spirit was compelled to have this passage preserved for us to consider and make applications. In this text, Paul tells Titus that there are those who are deceivers and empty talkers who will teach what they ought not. Note that Paul says in verse 11 that those who were teaching error were to be silenced! Paul identified the group (the insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party) and also noted some of the things that were being circulated or taught (Jewish myths, commands of people who turn away from the truth) in verse 14. Paul identifies the party, the problem, and gives the cure for the problem in verse 11. They must be silenced!

Also note in Titus 1 that Titus is not the only party responsible for the rebuking of those who teach error. This is also a responsibility for the elders of each congregation (Titus 1:9). This goes to show the importance of teaching and defending the truth when multiple individuals are given the responsibility directly from the Scriptures! We find that Paul emphasizes the thought of being sound (Titus 1:9, 13, 2:1,8) whether in speech or doctrine. Anything less than sound is unacceptable in the Lord’s sight! For unity to be maintained, we need to all be of the same mind and strive to be sound, steadfast, immovable, a vigilant soldier.

Sadly, there are brethren that will plainly say that we cannot be that bold and protest against error like the apostles and the preachers of the first century because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and we are not. This line of logic is not valid. We have the direct command (Titus 2:15), approved apostolic examples (Acts 9:19-22, Acts 17, Gal. 2:11), and the necessary inference from Matthew 28:20 where Jesus instructed His apostles to teach the disciples to observe all that He had commanded the apostles. Would this not include rebuking false teachers as Jesus did from time to time (Mt. 15:1-9, Mt. 23)? As Christians, our goal is to be as much like Christ as we possibly can (1 Pet. 2:21). Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Beloved brethren, will we follow the pattern?

Though brethren say that men today cannot be bold like those in the first century, we find the first century brethren were able to have the mind of Christ. The first century displayed this mind in their teaching and comparing spiritual things in spiritual terms (1 Cor. 2:16, 13). By studying the Scriptures we can also have the mind of Christ. If we can have the mind of Christ, can we therefore be spiritually minded? Absolutely! In fact, we find in Romans 8 that we must be spiritually minded because carnality is death (Rom. 8:6)! The men who were rebuking error were spiritually minded men, and we can have the same mindset since we too can have the same mind as they. Brothers and sisters, we can have the mind of Christ.

The Scriptures are inspired of God to fully equip the man of God for every good work. The brethren in the first century did not have the recorded Scriptures of the New Testament as we do today. The first century Christians were only able to prophesy in part (1 Cor. 13), but we have the Scriptures in its complete and perfect form. If we are capable to establish authority and follow the pattern in areas such as the plan of salvation, the acts of worship, and the work of the Church, then why can’t we use the same intelligence to learn how to preach according to the example and the pattern we find in the Scriptures?

We are not to be as children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, but a people that is united in Christ. To do so means we must sanctify the Lord, being ready to answer any question concerning the hope that is found in Christ. We noticed at the beginning of this study, Jesus wanted His people to be united in all things as the Godhead is united (John 17:21). When we are the strong Christians that Christ desires, we will be united together by the gospel of Christ to do the work that is set before us.

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