Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 21, 1951

Where The Danger Lies

John T. Hinds - (Gospel Advocate, 1911)

I. The Negative Side

Some are inclined to criticize preachers and writers for giving so much attention to the negative side of questions. This criticism is unjust for the simple reason that the negative side is the dangerous side. To show people affirmatively what to do to be saved is easy, but to protect them against the schemes and devices that are likely to lead them astray is not easy. Often it is said that we should preach the gospel and let other people's practices alone. This cannot be done, and should not be done if it could. If you preach only the positive side of man's duty, many will conclude that that is only "your side," and will say or think another preacher, if present, could present the other side equally well. While preaching should be kind and courteous, yet, to be right, it must leave the impression that there is no other side to the question except a false side.

Besides all this, if your converts—members of the true church—are not told and warned of the errors in doctrine and practice which they have to meet, they will not be prepared for them when they do meet them. "That question is not disturbing us, so do not say anything about it," is often said by brethren. Their contention is that to agitate the subject will bring the trouble on. This might be true sometimes, but it does not follow that being silent will keep the trouble off. The difficulty in the case is this: If you do not instruct and warn the innocent of dangers and falsehoods, the evil teachers will agitate the question for you. They will also find the members unprotected by reason of their ignorance on the subject. They can easily deceive and lead off such. You will then wake up to the fact that you are largely to blame because you failed to warn them of the danger. As well say that because your boy does not drink whiskey there is no use to instruct him about the danger in tampering with the stuff. Just plain, common sense says it is proper to instruct and warn against any and every possible error and danger that may confront people. Surely it is a matter of the greatest importance to protect the church and individual Christians.

That sweet-spiritedness that preaches the gospel in a way that leaves the impression that sectarianism is right, or leaves Christians exposed to the danger of apostasy, is not the spirit of the Book. By the highest authority we are told to "reprove, rebuke.' The preacher who fails to condemn the wrong, as well as instruct concerning right, is doing but half of his duty as a preacher. In fact, he is disobedient to his Lord. Still, many brethren want him to neglect his plain duty on this point.

II. What Objections Indicate

It is conceded by all that we have a perfect right to object to anything that is wrong or inexpedient, but no right to object just to be contrary. If preaching is abusive, it should be rejected; if not plain, it should also be rejected. But to object to plain preaching, kindly done, and which deals fairly with the questions in hand, indicates that something is wrong with the objector.

In a recent issue of the Gospel Advocate, brother Smith expressed himself about as follows: The man who begins to object to the gospel being plainly taught has his baggage already packed for the enemy's camp. And it may be added, he will most likely soon be there. One of the first symptoms that a man's loyalty to the truth is failing is his beginning to object to telling the gospel plainly. In a majority of cases it will require only a few years to see that man fully aligned with digressive forces. He may appear to be insulted if you tell him so, but only a few years will be required to bring about the change. If you doubt this statement, just watch such persons and see.

Such objections further indicate that we do not appreciate salvation, either for ourselves or others. If we deeply cared for the salvation of our friends, and believed the gospel to be God's power for saving them, we would want it preached to them. If we feared the danger of their being lost (what a fearful thought!) we would want them warned against such danger. Such objections to plain preaching show our loss of interest in salvation itself. Such objections to plain preaching show our loss of interest in salvation itself. Fearful condition this that we have so little care for those who are lost or are likely to be.

III. "Nearly Right"

Many who object to plain preaching console themselves for their lack of faith in God's word and its true presentation by saying that others are "nearly right;" that perhaps "they have enough truth to save them in spite of their error,' or, to quote the language I heard a digressive preacher use, "there is Christ enough in any creed to save the soul.'

Nothing is farther from the truth than the foregoing expressions. They are really painful to one who knows what the Bible teaches. We do not even believe them in common affairs. The danger is not in the amount of truth one has, but in the amount of error. The sensible way to view the subject is this: Is there enough error to condemn them in spite of the truth? If a prescription contains harmless medicine and some poison, it is more sensible to ask if the poison will kill in spite of the harmless medicine than to ask if the harmless medicine will cure in spite of the poison. The motto of a commercial college in Springfield, Mo., is this: "We teach it exactly right." One morning the president of the school used this language to his students; "Nearly right is absolutely wrong." Not only so, but the counterfeit nearest the genuine is the most dangerous of all. Our object should be not to have our practice nearly right; but right; not nearly true, but true. Often it is the small margin that is so direful in results because we take chances since it looks so little. The engineer who lacked only two minutes of getting on the side track in time caused just as fatal a wreck as if he had been thirty minutes late.

Many are ready to say the "digressives" are nearly right. But, if that were true, "nearly right' is still absolutely wrong. Do not be deceived and take part with and indorse a thing that is only nearly right. Insist on it being right or have nothing whatever to do with it. No other course is safe; no other course is right.


J. T. Marlin, Mayfield, Kentucky: "Eighteen responded in our meeting with Mardell Lynch preaching. Fourteen were baptized. We set new records in Bible school attendance both Sundays. Our Vacation Bible School enrolled 682. Homer Royster did a great job with the singing. I will be at Riverside Drive, Nashville, Tenn., June 17-29."