Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 2, 1960

There Was No Strange God Among You

Jerry F. Bassett, Willits, California

Through Isaiah God reminded Israel that, "I, even I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God." (Isa. 43:12.)

Indeed Israel was witness that the Lord is God for they behold his great power in the fulfillment of his promises to them both positively and negatively. When God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt he promised that, "... if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." Ex. 19:5-6.) But he also made another promise to them, saying to Moses, ". . . Behold thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?" Deut. 31:16-17.

As long as the children of Israel were faithful and kept the Lord's covenant he was among them. He led them, provided for them, and fought their battles. The might of these people, which was in reality the mighty of God was indestructible; no nation could prevail against them. On the other side of the ledger, when they forsook the Lord and joined themselves to the idols of the nations about them he left them, punished them, and eventually destroyed them utterly. Therefore, God could say to Israel, "I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you."

The things that befell fleshly Israel...happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." In short, every Christian who entertains serious thoughts of going to heaven must realize that if God did not spare the children of Israel when they became unfaithful neither will he spare us if we do the same. Infidelity always reaps the same harvest — misery, failure, and destruction.

While Christians stand firmly for the truth and cherish no strange gods in their hearts they are invincible. The Jews in their fanaticism could not prevent the establishment and growth of the church. The Roman Empire with all its worldly might could not stamp out the spread of the gospel. The world of denominationalism reeled and shook under the smashing blows of the pioneers of the restoration movement in the last century. Any time brethren carry the fight against error into the open while holding to the truth victory is inevitably theirs. Even should brethren be met with physical violence in the final outcome, he that judgeth righteously will see to it that his saints are victorious. (Rev. 2:10.) But remember, the victory is not won by human might, it is won when men are "...strong in the Lord, and the power of his might." (Eph. 6:10.) And again, ". . . this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5:4.)

Such strong assurance from the word of God ought to stir every Christian to dedicated, sacrificial service. Apparently, however, the word of God is not enough for some brethren. These are not content with a simple "thus saith the "Lord," but would launch out upon the silence of the scripture to devise service to their liking and thus commit themselves to strange gods. The result is that the camp of Israel, having forsaken the power of God to commit fornication with idols, is weak and vulnerable, and in its hypocrisy contemptible. Weak and vulnerable because having embraced error, error can no longer be fought, and contemptible in hypocrisy because while steeped in error the claim to primitive Christianity is declared loud and long.

For example, brethren who love the god called the sponsoring eldership can no longer oppose the organization of the Roman Catholic church. By their practice they have surrendered the right to use such passages as Acts 14:23 which specifies a plurality of elders in every congregation, and I Pet. 5:1-2 which limits the oversight of elders to "the flock of God which is among you." If it is right for these brethren to worship an "itsy bitsy" god, the Herald of Truth, then it is all right for the Catholics to love its grand-daddy, the fully developed hierarchy. The former is but an embryo of the latter. If the one is right in principle, so is the other. These brethren have surrendered the power to expose the error of Roman Catholic organization, they cannot use it without being self condemned.

Many also love the god called the social gospel. With no consideration for the complete lack of scriptural authority they love to see the resources of the church which should be used for preaching the gospel to lost souls consumed by banquet halls, recreation programs, and various social uplift endeavors. They have started down the trail blazed by extreme liberals who hold that the church fulfills its highest good in ministering to man's temporal needs. While they worship this god they cannot consistently oppose those liberals who have progressed to the advanced stages of this form of idolatry — even if they want to!

Many brethren have come to love the god of the human institution which exists separate from the church to do the benevolent work which God assigned to the church itself. Their cry of devotion is "the church is not a home," or "the orphan home is merely an expedient method." Apparently their idolatrous love has blinded them to the facts, for while the church is not a home it is nonetheless divinely equipped to provide for the needy who are its responsibility. (Acts 6: 1-6, 11:28-30.) Further, the institutional orphan home is not an expedient method, it is an organization which uses methods. God has specified the church as the institution through which men are to serve him (Eph. 3:21), and has shown that its organization which ip to use expedient methods to relieve its needy is the local congregation under the oversight of its own elders. (Acts 14:23, 20:28, 11:28-30.)

Brethren who worship the god of the human institution are no longer able to wage battle against denominationalism, for their practice endorses the denominational concept that the "invisible body of Christ" is composed of all believers while its visible manifestation is a multiplicity of human institutions and organizations earring out its mission. How can brethren in Christ build human institutions to do the benevolent work of the church and yet object to denominationalists building human institutions to fulfill God's plan in the church of containing his children? After all, a human institution is just that and nothing more whether you call it Bole's Home or Baptist Church.

Thus the list of idols which drain the strength of spiritual might be multiplied. That the things which have been named are idols to those who promote and support them cannot be denied. Many congregations have come to the point where severe criticism of the church of the Lord or of straight gospel preaching is tolerated and popular, but just let the slightest criticism of the Herald of Truth, the Sierra Bible Camp, or one of hundreds of other projects be heard and the speaker is likely to find himself the object of unreasonable, malicious, even violent opposition. And do not deny that this is true until you have tried voicing such criticism, any criticism of the brotherhood projects among us, yourself!

Those of you who devotedly worship these strange gods remember God's lashing indictment, ". . . beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses saith the Lord, that I am God." God's statement carries both a plea and a warning; a plea to forsake idolatry, and a warning that those who do not have turned their backs upon salvation. Remember, too that long after your flesh is decayed in the grave, and after your human promotions have led many down the path of liberalism to the point of no return of infidelity, the Lord granting time to continue, his word will yet be active upon the earth, his church will yet exist, and his faithful children will yet hold the promise of eternal life. God has said, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son." (II John :9.)