"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.XI No.II Pg.1-3
February 1949

False Arguments And Scripture Perversions

R. L. Whiteside

With the ideas some have, I do not see how they have any grounds for urging aliens to repent, We have been told that aliens are not in covenant with God—are not under his law, and therefore the Lord takes no notice of what they do. If this be true, they violate no law, and are therefore not sinners. Where then is there grounds for urging them to repent? Repent of what? It was put this way in a sermon I heard: "When a man becomes a Christian he obligates himself to do right." And that is saying that a man is under no obligation to do right till he becomes a Christian. If an alien is under no obligation to do right, then he commits no sin in failing to do right—he commits no sin no matter what evil he does. He would be under no obligation even to believe in God or the Lord Jesus Christ, and would have no sins to repent of. Can you think of a more vicious doctrine? It sounds like some of the phases of Russellism. Here is the way Scofields Bible states the doctrine: "Acts is in two chief parts: In the first section, 1:1-9,43, Peter is the prominent personage, Jerusalem is the center, and the ministry to the Jews. Already in covenant relations with Jehovah, they had sinned in rejecting Jesus as the Christ. The preaching, therefore, was directed to that point, and repentance (i.e. a change of mind) was demanded—In the second division (10:1-28,31) Paul is prominent, a new center is established at Antioch, and the ministry is chiefly to Gentiles who, as strangers from the covenants of promise (Eph. 2:12), —had but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved." These are strange statements, but consistent with the notion that aliens are not responsible to God for what they do. It is plainly implied that, if the Jews had not been in covenant relations with God, they would not have needed to repent of crucifying Jesus! And the Gentiles had no sins to repent of, then they had none from which to be saved. Besides, no Jew today was ever in covenant relations with God, as had been the Jews to whom Peter preached; for that covenant had been nailed to the cross. If Scofield were correct, neither Jew nor Gentile would now need to repent. But Scofields Bible and Gods Bible do not agree, Jesus said that repentance should be preached among all nations. And when Peter explained his preaching to Gentiles, the brethren at Jerusalem "held their peace, and glorified God, saying, then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life." And Paul told the Athenians that God now "commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent." It is a pity that a man who professes to be a teacher of Gods word will ignore plain statements of the Scriptures because he cannot fit them into a fanciful theory. Of course, repentance in the passages mentioned includes more than a mere change of mind.

As to the condition of the Gentiles, there is little difference between Scofield and Pastor Russell. In a debate with a Russellite several years ago, one of the propositions I affirmed and he denied was, that baptism was for the remission of sins to Jew and Gentile alike. He readily granted that baptism to Jews was for the remission of sins, but denied that any Gentile was ever baptized for the remission of sins. Even so, it is easy to see that both Scofield and the Russellite were more consistent on that point than brethren who contend that baptism is for the remission of alien sins, and yet contend that the alien, not being under any law to God, violated no law of God. But brethren who so contend are as wrong on this point as Scofield and Russell. Paul speaks of "sinners of the Gentiles." (Gal. 2:115). If the theory were correct, we might well repeat Pauls question, "Then how shall God judge the world?" The Jews had been entrusted with the oracles of God, but had made such poor use of their blessings, that Paul makes this observation concerning them and Gentiles: "What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we before laid to the charge of both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin," (Rom. 3:1-9). And to see the degrading sins into which Gentiles had fallen read Rom. 1:18-32. And the Jews were no better—"all under sin." Jesus came to save sinners, not to make sinners; the gospel is Gods power to save sinners, not to make sinners of those who hear it. I think on these things.

How come Cornelius to need salvation? One writer said that Cornelius was "doubtlessly serving the God of his fathers under patriarchy." But patriarchy was not a religion, nor a form of worship, but a form of government. However if the head of the family or clan worshiped Jehovah, he was the priest and prophet for the family or clan; but some of them, like Laban, worshiped idols. Again: "The Patriarchal Dispensation did not end at Sinai except to the descendants of Abraham—While the offspring of Abraham was amenable to God under the law of Moses, Gentiles, to whom Moses law was never given, could serve him under the law that had been in effect since Eden was lost to Adam and Eve." But many of the descendants of Abraham were not included in the covenant made at Sinai. The word dispensation occurs a few times in the New Testament, but never in the sense we attach to it when we speak of the three dispensations.

So far as we know Abel was the first one to offer a God-appointed sacrifice, and it does not appear that he was the head of a family or clan. He was therefore not a patriarch, and it is certain that he did not pass on to Cain or any other what God had revealed to him. I do not think anyone will contend that the commands to Cain and Abel were recorded for the guidance of following generations. It seems that the head of a family or clan, if he worshiped God, received revelations direct from God, just as did Abel. Joshua said to Israel, "Your fathers dwelt of old time beyond the river, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods." (Joshua 24:2; see also verses 14, 15). The quotation is from the American Standard Version. So Abraham came from idol-worshiping patriarchs. "Fathers" would include at least his father and grandfather, and perhaps farther back; and so he did not learn true worship from them. God spoke to him as he did to others before his time. You will search in vain for any line of true worshipers from creation to Abraham, and on down to Cornelius. And I have seen no indication that any directions for patriarchal government or worship was ever written for their guidance. If it were handed down by word of mouth, it would be perverted beyond recognition in a few generations. That Cornelius was ruler, prophet, and priest for his family or clan is a mere guess, with no hint on which to base a guess.

Cornelius may have learned about the true God from the Jews. It seems that he kept the Jewish hour of prayer. Many Gentiles did learn about God from the Jews. We do know that Cornelius knew much about the life, teaching, and miracles of Christ. Who knows but that Cornelius was the centurion present at the crucifixion of Jesus? Remember this: A man cannot make a guess without some basis for his guess, and he cannot believe without evidence.

Here is a strange statement from our writer: "We firmly believe that Cornelius was not a sinner until the appearance of the angel with instructions that brought him and the entire Gentile world in covenant relations with Christ. Inspiration records, without correction, the statement of the man that had been healed of his blindness by the Lord (John 9:31), How we know that God heareth not sinners. God, then, will not hear a sinner, but he did hear and answer the prayers of the Roman centurion. Therefore the man was not a sinner at the time his prayers were ascending unto the throne of God." The Jewish authorities said Jesus was a sinner, but they knew he was not an alien—they knew he was in the covenant. The man born blind knew Jesus was not an alien; and to make his language apply to an alien is inexcusable. Saul of Tarsus prayed before he became a Christian—prayed while he was still an alien, and the Lord was pleased in that he did pray, at that time he was still an alien, but not an alien sinner. An alien who has sincerely repented is not then an alien sinner, though he may not yet have been pardoned. That was the condition of Saul during the three days and nights he fasted and prayed. Nor was Cornelius sinning when he was praying for more light. If you will notice the answer he got you will know what he was praying for. The angel told Cornelius that his prayer was heard; "Send therefore to Joppa, and call unto thee Simon, who is surnamed Peter," "who shall speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house."

I do not think I ever read a more startling notion (by any brother than that the visit of the angel to Cornelius made Cornelius a sinner and brought the entire Gentile world into Covenant relations with Christ. He was righteous till the angel spoke to him and that turned him into a sinner! How come? Did not Cornelius immediately set about doing what the angel told him to do? What sin did he commit? The visit of an angel turned a righteous man into a sinner, and also the entire Gentile world became sinners! Another strange thing—a righteous man prayed and was heard, but the prayer was answered after he became a sinner,

Cornelius the righteous man prayed, but Cornelius the sinner received the answer. And just how did the angels visit to Cornelius bring the entire Gentile world in covenant relations with Christ"? What is the nature of that covenant that the entire Gentile world is in? I have never heard of such an idea. At the risk of being criticized, I make one personal reference that may help some young preachers. I have said both publicly and privately, "I have been given credit for knowing more about the Bible than I really know, and I think the reason for it is, I do not know so many things that are not so." Think on this. If you do a lot of guessing, and make a lot of assertions for which you have no sure basis, people will rightfully conclude that you are not a careful Bible student.