Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 29, 1968
NUMBER 42, PAGE 9b-11a

How "Faithful Are You?

Wallace H. Little

It seems to have become increasingly more fashionable among Christians to style others, and even themselves by such terms as "moderately faithful," "fairly faithful," "reasonably faithful" and so on. (Is this not "...measuring themselves by themselves..."?) A number of articles have appeared recently in various papers published throughout the brotherhood which in one way or another touch on this theme. I would like to add mine to the collection for I believe that I may be able to help the foolishness of such a concept by problems which have already come up in specific locations. Some reading this may benefit thereby. The real source of danger is that we are placing our faith in the wisdom of men and not in the power of God when we think in "degree of faithfulness." This is true whether we realize it or not.

Since my illustrations are in terms of the "institutionalism issues" among us, I wish to define two, terms as I shall be using them before going further. The first is "liberal." It depicts only the failure of individuals to accept Scripture exactly as God intended, to be guided by it in every work (II Tim. 3:16,17; Col. 3:17) and correspondingly, the failure to be limited to what God has expressly stated by command, approved apostolic example of necessary inference (I Cor. 4:4 - ASV; II John 9; Jude 3). The second is "conservative," and it will be used here to describe the attitude which in the opposite of the first, to believe and act implicitly only in accordance with God's word, and to regard the absence of permission as the prohibition of the thing considered.

Three of the largest US military complexes in the world are located at Clark Air Base. Philippine Island, Tokyo Area, Japan and Wiesbaden, Germany. In each, there are literally thousands of American military personnel, their dependants and civilians working for the military establishment. Making the assumption (a valid one) that the percentage of Christians at each location compared to the entire military establishment would be the same as the percentage of Christians compared with the total population of the United States, the logical conclusion would be that the percentage of those who are "conservative" compared to all Christians in these areas would be the same as that for conservative brethren in the States compared with all Christians there. This is merely an application of the principle that a proper sample correctly represents the universe from which it is taken. Public opinion surveys are run on this principle. It would seem, therefore, that a reasonable number of faithful brethren could be found in each of these locations who would be willing to stand for the truth on these "issues." It would seem that this is true, but it simply is not so.

In the Tokyo area, brother Bill Webber and his wife have been thoroughly ostracized by the liberals because these two faithful children of God insisted that God's truth on these disturbing issues was not to be suppressed. As a result, until his recent return to the United States, he and his wife have been worshipping and working by themselves. They were not welcome within the liberal churches. Bro. Webber is not a military man, but worked for a civilian airline. Due to the places served by this airline, and the nature of his job, however, he had opportunity to contact far more Christians in military service than most military people themselves. He tried to find other faithful Christians, and was not able to locate any. He may have missed some, but it is not too likely. In the Tokyo area, to the best of his knowledge, he and his wife alone stood the truth.

In Wiesbaden, Germany, amidst a complex of a number of military bases, US Air Force, Army and others, bro. and sister Patterson were alone in their stand for truth there as nearly as they could determine. Because of his location, bro. Patterson had good opportunity to meet others holding the conservative position concerning the issues. His position was known, and he and his wife suffered at the hands of the liberal brethren for it. He and his wife, with their children, constituted God's true church in that area.

Here at Clark Air Base, Philippine Islands, where there are literally multiplied thousands of Americans, military and civilians, the total number of Christians who stood firm for God's truth on the issues was made up of three families plus one unaccompanied young airman. Including young, unbaptized children, this number has never exceeded nineteen. This, in a complex which produces between 150 and 200 to attend the local liberal church, plus literally hundreds who claim they are Christians but never darken the door of a single assembly, liberal or conservative, during their entire tour, seems amazing.

But is it? Does it really seem so strange that this should be? It shouldn't, and the basic cause was described in my first paragraph. Brethren, far, far too many of them (and wouldn't even one be too many?) are simply not converted to Christ. Oh, they work and worship with conservative churches at home, wherever that might be. There they wouldn't think of doing anything else. They know all the right things to say; they deplore the havoc among Christians across the country and the world as a result of the unrighteousness perpetuated by the liberals; they know all the right people, they have flocked for miles to hear them preach when these famous conservative preachers have held meetings in their areas; they have smitten institutionalism errors "hip and thigh" back home, and loud were the "amen's" when preachers have expounded on the errors of our liberal brethren. Why, then, when they get away from "home" do they not take a stand for truth equally as firm? Or perhaps a better question would be why do they not take any kind of a stand for truth? Why will they not arise and be counted among God's faithful?

It is simply because they are, "moderately faithful," "fairly faithful," "reasonably faithful" and so on. They fit these categories because their faith is exhibited when little or no inner strength is required of them. They work and worship with "conservative" congregations as a matter of convenience (whatever that may consist of) rather than as a matter of conviction. No one or nothing has arisen which could force upon them the requirement to "stand up for Jesus" against the pressure of their brethren. They can fit the accepted mold, and be welcomed by others without any great sacrifice on their parts. How about Rom. 12:1, 2?

I often ask myself, am I making a charge which cannot sustain? Am I failing to consider that " thinketh no evil." (I Cor. 13:5). Hardly. Notice: In each of these three areas, there are those Christians who know the differences, who are able to understand and explain what it means, from Scripture, to be "...thoroughly furnished unto every good work" and to "...walk by faith and not by sight." They both can and have, in terms of Scriptural principles, explained what is wrong with the Herald of Truth, "Orphan homes among us," and a host of other unauthorized activities being supported today out of the treasuries of various local churches of Christ. They will admit that for one to participate in these things in sin (I John 4:3) and likewise it is also sin for one to be silent in the presence of such sins (II John 10, 11; James 4:17) and thus bid good speed to the evil rather than rebuke it (Eph. 5:11). And yet, And YET, they continue, week in, week out, month upon month, during their entire overseas tour of duty, having fellowship with that which they readily admit is wrong. Many and varied are the excuses. "We're only going to be here for a couple of years; let's not cause trouble" — this one should read James 4:17. "After all, we must put on a united front for the Catholics, or they will laugh at us" — here, see Ex. 23:2, and in place of "Catholics" any other denomination may be substituted. "We're so small and weak over here that any further reduction in size will make it impossible for us to carry on a work over here" — how about II Cor. 6:17, and the example of Noah? And so it goes, on and on, each with an excuse which soothes his or her conscience, but which fails to consider Gal. 6:7. God never has changed reaping and sowing to suit man's pleasure.

Bro. Robert F. Turner of Burnet, Texas, has written concerning these people and their counterparts everywhere, saying that they are "synagogue lovers" — John 12:42,43. They know enough truth to be able to recognize error, but they will not continue in the truth they know. John 8:31, 32.

In the three examples which I have cited, I have proof either personally or through the persons names, that there are those "moderately faithful" Christians in each of these areas, outnumbering God's faithful by something on the order of 5 to 10 to one. Back "home" they stood for the truth. Here, they just "stand," and don't appear to understand the obligation of knowledge, to act in accordance with it. They go further, and many times actively criticize anyone who will oppose this apostasy, even to the extent of participating in "disfellowship" of those who actively support God's truth. Lest anyone think this is limited to those with limited knowledge and experience as Christians, do not be fooled. I personally know of those with many years experience who have so acted.

Until now, their faith has never really been tried. Until now, they had someone else to act as a buffer between them and the evil, someone else taking the blows and getting the wounds. When called upon to demonstrate their faith, they failed the test.

What is the answer? Who has provided the cure? God, and Him alone. David said it, in the first two verses of Psalms one. "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. For his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night." John the apostle said it in the last part of Rev. 2:10 " thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life." Paul said it in I Cor. 16:13. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." He said it again in II Cor. 13:5. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith..." and again in Heb. 2:1-3. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;..." Christ Himself said it, numbers of times, of which this is but a sample. Matt. 16:24 "...If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."

There is no such thing as being "moderately faithful." We are either faithful or we are not. When our faith is tried, we will either choose God or mammon, and we cannot serve both. Matt. 12:13. We will either follow Satan or we will understand and obey, "Hear, 0 Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:..."

I need to examine myself; you need to do likewise. Tell me, brother or sister in Christ, "HOW FAITHFUL ARE YOU?"

— 6200 Materiel Wing (PACAF) APO San Francisco