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ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.

“DOES the direction recorded Mark ix. 39 and Luke ix. 50, prohibit the disciples from exposing teachers of false doctrines?”

There is no passage of Scripture which conflicts with another portion of the inspired rule; and in that infallible standard is given not only in precept, but in example, the law of our King on this as upon every point necessary that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. By reference to the instruction of Paul to Titus, i. 10, 11, it will be seen that even in the apostolic age it was necessary to stop the mouths of certain unruly and vain talkers, who were subverting whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. Titus was commanded to rebuke them sharply, that they might be sound in the faith. These false teachers were evidently among professed followers of Christ, otherwise it would not have been proper for Titus to assert his authority as a minister of Christ in rebuking them, though he must withstand the error which they inculcated in their doctrine. Preaching the truth necessarily includes the refutation of falsehood; but those enemies of divine truth who do not claim to be disciples of our Lord are they that are without, whom the apostle disclaimed the duty of judging, leaving them to the universal condemnation of the judgment of God. – 1 Cor. v. 12, 13. God alone can judge the heart and discern the motives of men. This judgment he has never delegated to any finite creatures. All that he has authorized his people to do in this respect is to try everything claiming divine sanction by the infallible standard given by inspiration; and all that will not bear this test is condemned, not by the judgment of a merely human tribunal, but by the unalterable decision of God himself.

“I am, saith Christ, the Truth;
Then all that lacks this test,
Proceed it from an angel’s mouth,
Is but a lie at best.”

While the standard given to the saints fully qualifies them to discriminate between truth and error, and they are enjoined to approve the right and reject the wrong, and to withdraw from all who persist in error, it should be particularly observed that they are not authorized to judge the persons of those whose teachings they must reject, that is, to say that such are not among the redeemed of the Lord. Perhaps in no case could such judgment be seemingly better founded than that of Saul of Tarsus, whose violence had made a terror to the saints; yet he was a “chosen vessel” unto the Lord to preach his name, and to suffer for his sake. In this respect we are forbidden to judge. But in regard to the walk and doctrine of all with whom we are associated it is not only our privilege, but our solemnly enjoined duty, to judge righteously, without malice or personal prejudice, and without favor from selfish partiality.

Much less can they who would be followers of Jesus consistently recognize in fellowship such as claim to be christians, while in works denying the Lord by teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. In this course they would practically be bidding them God speed, thereby becoming partakers of their evil deeds. – 2 John 10, 11. However confident we may be that such teachers of error are subjects of divine grace, we must withdraw from them if they persist in teaching falsehood after they have been faithfully admonished. – Titus iii. 10, 11. Such men must have once been standing in fellowship, or they could not be subverted. And if those who have been recognized as brethren must be cut off in pursuing such a rebellious course, it is manifestly inconsistent to profess to approve the same course in such as never have been in our fellowship.

“WILL you please give your views on Acts ii. 38? The Campbellites say this is the only admonition in all the New Testament Scriptures to unregenerate men and women; that their sins are remitted in consequence of their obedience to baptism, and immediately the immersed is the recipient of the gift of the Holy Ghost; and to substantiate their position they quote the Savior’s answer to Nicodemus, John iii. 5.”

It is not easy to understand how any intelligent reader could suppose that those to whom Peter addressed the language recorded in the verse cited were “unregenerate men.” The truth preached by the apostle was certainly of the Spirit, and we are expressly informed the natural man receiveth not these things. – 1 Cor. ii. 14. If, then, these to whom this command was addressed had not been quickened by the Spirit, the effect of the preaching on them would have been the same as in the case of those mentioned in the thirteenth verse of this chapter, who could only see in the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Ghost a subject for mocking and false accusation. The instruction to these, who were pricked in the heart, to turn away from trusting anything they could do, to obedience of faith, in following the command of Christ in being baptized in his name for the remission of sins. In this obedience they should receive that answer of a good conscience toward God, 1 Peter iii. 21, which is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and which is never received in disobedience. In the experience of those who are led by the Spirit of God, this gift is received in that sweet peace of God which passeth all understanding, which shall keep the souls of the obedient.

Elder William L. Beebe,
Middletown, N. Y.,

Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 23
December 1, 1881