Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 2, 1950

False Arguments And Scripture Perversions

M. A. Mansur, Lawton, Okla.

The above was the caption of an article by Brother R. L. Whiteside in the November 24th issue of the Gospel Guardian. I have a high regard for my beloved brother, and I respect him for his many years of service in the kingdom of the Lord; and so it is with great humility that I felt called upon to examine the above-mentioned article in the light of God's word. A number of people have talked with me, (including several ministers of the gospel) regarding the position taken by Brother Whiteside of Hebrews 10:25; and we feel that it is an attempt to "split hairs" over words, without justification; and that the article conveys a doctrine, which will be gladly accepted by many of our "luke-warm" brethren as most comforting and soothing, since the article does convey the idea that they can be willfully absent from the Lord's day worship, one Sunday or a dozen, and then come back to the assembly of the Lord and sing, "0 How I Love Jesus" or "I Want to Be A Worker For the Lord." Even though they were willfully absent from the Lord's day worship, they feel they have not sinned nor violated the command of the Holy Spirit as revealed in Hebrews 10:25 since they have not "abandoned," "quit," "left entirely" and "deserted" the church and the faith once delivered to the saints; because, so the writer states, "Neglect and forsake do not at all mean the same thing. To forsake is to abandon, to quit, to leave entirely, to desert." Therefore, with this definition planted in their minds, (and there are many people in the church who are looking for an excuse to be absent) many of our weaker brethren will use next Sunday to go hunting or fishing, or to visit Aunt Sally, or to spend a nice quiet day at home sleeping, listening to the radio or reading their Sunday papers; and feel quite happy, since they reason thusly: "I have not deserted the faith; I have no intention of abandoning the church; I will attend the Lord's day services next Sunday (if it is convenient and I feel like it), so I can willingly be absent from the worship of the church today; and, in so doing, I am not forsaking the assembly since I am not abandoning the church. Therefore, I am doing no wrong and have committed no sin." I really do not believe that my beloved Brother really endorses, or intends to teach, such a doctrine; but his article most certainly conveys such an unscriptural idea.

I am not upholding the idea that one should read Hebrews 10:25 and then begin to talk about neglecting, instead of forsaking, the assembly. However, in a certain sense, it would be permissible, for, according to the second edition of Webster's Unabridged New International Dictionary, some of the definitions therein given for neglect and forsake have the same meaning. I herewith quote some of the definitions given by Webster: "Neglect: Act or fact of disregarding; state or fact of being disregarded; omission of proper attention; disregard of duty, from indifference or willfulness; failure to do." Certainly when a child of God willfully fails to assemble with the, saints on the first day of the week, he has engaged in an act on his part, described by Webster as "failure to do," and also an act of "disregard of duty," and he has engaged in an "act of disregarding" the assembly entirely. He has so little regard for the Lord's day worship that he is pleased to be absent, and so fails to go at all.

In reading Hebrews 10:25, will you not notice that the Holy Spirit did not use the word forsake, but rather the word forsaking, which is the present participle of the word forsake. Forsaking denotes action and time, as distinguished from the words forsake and forsaken. The present participle forsaking indicated the "act of" or "progress of." Again consulting Webster, we find that he gives the first, second and third generally accepted meanings or definitions for the words forsake and forsaking, which we quote: "1. (a) To deny, reject, refuse. (b) To avoid, shun. 2. To renounce or surrender (something dear to one). 3. To quit or leave entirely, to desert, to depart or withdraw from; leave." Just why my Brother chose to ignore Webster's first definitions, those given first and most generally accepted; but rather decided that the definitions of third rank were the only ones he would use and try to say they accurately and correctly defined the word forsaking is more than I know.

When one willfully decides that he will be absent from the services of the Lord, he has "avoided" the saints and the Lord, and he has "rejected" the commands and examples of the Lord. When one is willfully absent from even one Lord's day worship, that person has "refused" to assemble with Christ and the saints on the first day of the week, as commanded by the Lord. On that one Sunday in which he was absent, he thus "rejected" the body that was wounded and the blood that was shed for him; and, on that day, he thus "denied" Christ as much as did the apostle Peter when he was warming himself at the devil's fire. Remember, these are Webster's first definitions of the word forsaking.

Since God has spoken on the subject, let us see what the Holy Spirit says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner (R. V.-Custom) of some is." You will observe that whatever sin these brethren were engaging in, it was a practice, a custom, in which some were engaging. For something to be a custom, it must of necessity be practiced frequently. Luke 4:16. When one deserts the church and abandons the faith, it is not a re-occurring act; it is not a process of doing something over and over again, as things done by custom. Due to persecution and other reasons, some of the saints were not assembling themselves together on the first day of every week, although others were remaining faithful in so doing. At the time this letter was written, no doubt some of the brethren had been willfully absent one Lord's day, others two, and some for even longer periods of time before they would again return and meet with the church in its regular assembly. This practice, or custom, of some to be absent from the Lord's day services was called by the Holy Spirit, "forsaking the assembling;" such custom, said the Holy Spirit, was a sin in which they were NOT to engage. Hebrews 10:25, 26.

We have the same church (local congregation or church) here in Lawton today (Thursday) as we had last Sunday. What is the difference? The church is in Lawton today, but it is unassembled. Last Sunday, the same church was in Lawton, but it was assembled together, according to the command of the Lord, at the place of meeting, to worship Him. Now, please observe that the Holy Spirit did not say, "Not forsaking the church." Neither did He say, "Not forsaking the faith." Rather, He said, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is." The coming of ourselves together with the saints on the first day of the week was commanded of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit here told the brethren to not forsake, or refuse, or fail to do this service of coming together on the first day of the week; and, that if they engaged in the custom of forsaking the assembling of themselves with the saints, they were sinning. So, if for only one Lord's day, a child of God willfully absents himself from the worship, avoids Christ and the brethren, refuses to be present in the assembly, he has sinned by forsaking the assembly.

In all of our preaching and writing, we should never] become so technical in our discussion that we overlook the fact that we may be suggesting a principle that the weaker brother might be seeking to justify himself in his carelessness and neglect.