Its Effect On Mans Relations
(Continued from preceding page)
When Does One Become A Christian?
When one conforms to the requirements that Christ has given (Jn. 14:21-24).
Who Determines This Conformity?
God judges His servants, in keeping with declared standards (Jn. 12:47-f). Individuals answer to God (Rom. 14:21).
WHEN MAY I RECOGNIZE ANOTHER AS A CHRISTIAN? When, by my understanding of Gods word, I see one has done the bidding of Christ (Matt. 7:15-23).
IS NOT MY MOST HONEST APPRAISAL RELATED TO MY UNDERSTANDING OF TRUTH? Certainly! Truth is not relative. God knows exactly when one is His, but I know in keeping with my grasp of revealed truth (Acts 18:24-26).
COULD I BE HONESTLY MISTAKEN, MY UNDERSTANDING OF TRUTH AT FAULT? Yes!
I do not consider my level of understanding to be equivalent to the divine standard (2 Cor. 10:12-f).
THEN HOW CAN I JUSTIFY BEING POSITIVE ABOUT ANYTHING? God requires honest conviction of me. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Rom. 14:5, 22-23). As it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken: we also believe, and therefore speak (2 Cor. 4:13). To the extent I believe Gods word is truth (Jn. 17:17) and am honest in my study and conclusions; exactly to that extent I must conclude that contrary teachings are erroneous (2 Tim. 4:1-f). IS NOT THIS SECTARIANISM? No, it is not! Sectarianism chooses certain doctrines and builds a party with them as boundary — refusing to consider anything else as truth. I refuse to consider my level of understanding as final, contending only that I must teach and act in keeping with an honest, objective consideration of Gods standard in order to be true to myself and to God. The flip-side of sectarianism, and equally bad, is the irreverent and faithless conception that each man is accountable only to himself, so that there is NO standard of absolute truth.
Fellowship (sharing) as fellow-saints must be upon the above basis. We must stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. If there be therefore any fellowship of the spirit-- it must be found in this striving, objectively, to be pleasing in Gods sight (Phil. 1:27-f). The universal test for determining mans spirit is, therefore, his reaction to examination to his practice and teaching in the light of the revelation of Gods Spirit. (1 Jn. 4:6; where we and us are John and other inspired witnesses — 1:1-4 — not the party.)
Financing, promoting or encouraging error obviously contradicts proper concepts of fellowship with God (2 Jn. 9—11; 2 Cor. 6:14-f). One may say he so acts in keeping with his objective Bible study and honest convictions. God knows the truth about that and will judge accordingly. This does not, however, release me from my obligations to act upon my conviction If we are both honest, we will study together; and neither will conclude that union which embraces error can take the place of unity in the Lord.