Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 7, 1950

Unsound Speech

Cleon Lyles, Little Rock, Arkansas

Paul wrote Titus this advice: "In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that can not be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." (Titus 2:7, 8).

I know of nothing that leads to more disturbance in the church of our Lord than unsound speech. This does not mean that the speech comes from a person we would commonly call a teacher of error. Often it comes from those who are considered safe and sound doctrinally. The result is the church must often stop long enough to get over an unsound statement before it can go on with its work. One person can come into a community for the purpose of helping the cause of Christ, and by a few unsound statements set the work back. Then the church has to "get over" his work rather than get on because of it.

To illustrate what I have in mind, I am thinking of two statements that were made once by a visiting evangelist, who was conducting a meeting in a certain place. One of the statements I have often heard, but the other one was new to me. The familiar statement was regarding the size of a congregation of disciples. The statement was: "The Jerusalem congregation got too large, so the Lord scattered them." Now is that so? Many times in my life I have heard that statement, but I have never seen any proof. My Bible does not say the Lord scattered the Jerusalem church. I am not trying to argue that a congregation should be either small or large. I do not know that the Bible says how large one should be. Sometimes there are advantages both ways. There is certainly much advantage to being large enough to do the work a congregation should do. But the size of a local congregation will have to be determined by those connected with it. It is not mine to go beyond the scriptures and try to tell brethren how large a congregation should be. But where did anyone get the idea that the Lord scattered the Jerusalem church? The first verse of the eighth chapter of the Acts reads: "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." This persecution was the cause of the death of Stephen. Shall we accuse God of murder? Did he bring on something that would take the life of one of His most faithful servants? Who is ready for the conclusion that one must reach when we accuse God of scattering this church? The truth of the matter is, it is not so.

The new statement to me was concerning eating lunch in a church building. I have no intention of trying to argue the question. There may be occasions when it is alright to eat most any place. But that we are looking at an extreme in such matters any thinking man can see. However, the statement was made that they were going to have lunch in the basement immediately after the morning service. The speaker went on to say that Jesus often did this. He said Jesus fed multitudes so they would come to hear him preach, and if it was alright for Jesus to do it he was sure it was alright for us to do it. But did Jesus do such a thing? What church building did he take them into? The Bible says they sat down on the ground. He certainly did not take them into a church building for lunch. And where did one get the idea that He fed them in order to get them to come hear him preach? They were there a long time before eating time. They had no promise of being fed. They came to hear the Lord and were willing to go hungry in order to do so. The disciples wanted to send them away. Jesus took some bread and fish and fed them. To argue that Jesus promised them food if they would come hear him preach, or to use this as an argument that it is alright for the church to have luncheons, is unsound speech. Such can never lead to any good.

There may be times and circumstances when brethren may do a lot of things that will lead to no wrong unless abused. There may be occasions for eating lunch in the basement of a church building. Certainly a building is not holy. But it is certainly not right to try to prove it is right by using bits of scripture that do not even hint at the subject.