Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 2, 1954
NUMBER 17, PAGE 2,5c

Speaking Truth In Love

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

This is to be the last lesson in this series on love. We have studied in this series the subjects, "God is love" — "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" — "Love thy neighbor" — and Paul's definition of love found in the lath chapter of 1st Corinthians. Now we will consider the subject, "Preaching the truth in love." The language used by Paul in Ephesians 4:14, 15 suggests this line of study. In those verses he writes, "That we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ."

The expression, "speaking truth in love," has to do with what to preach and how to preach it. The truth is the thing to be preached. It must be spoken in love. Both must be present in our teaching in order for us to meet the requirements of this passage. Truth spoken in hate, spite or anything other than love will not fill the bill. And regardless of how much one may protest of his love, if error is taught, this too falls far short of meeting the requirements of this passage.

We must see to it that what we speak is the truth of God. To fail to speak the truth is to fall under God's curse. Galatians 1:8, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that, which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." No amount of so-called kindness and expressions of good will, and such can take the place of the truth. These things can in no way fill up the lack or deflect the curse which the God of heaven has pronounced upon those who withhold part of the truth or add to the truth. The Bible says they are accursed.

There are those who abuse this passage and try to prostitute it to their unmanly ends by such expressions as "preach the truth in love and let everybody alone." The first part is scriptural but the human amendment, "leave everybody alone," is unscriptural and contradictory of the first part. The idea of influencing people is inseparably connected with preaching the truth. If not, why preach? Hence, the "leave everybody alone" is unscriptural for Christ commanded that the truth be preached. To accept the "leave everybody alone" is to allow Christ's order to be countermanded.

There is as much harmony between dark and light as there is between truth and error. The two are in deadly conflict — they clash at every point — at no single place do they go together. When truth is preached error is going to be exposed. There is no love for error in God and He doesn't allow His children to love it.

In discussing the lawless one and the way he could deceive people — the methods he would employ — Paul has this to say, "And with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:1042.) This emphatically teaches us that we must love the truth. We must receive the love of the truth, not have pleasure in unrighteousness. Yet on every hand we find those who do not love the truth. This is evident from the failure to obey the truth and the scorn and contempt with which some reject the truth of God. Any reflection on any part of the New Testament is evidence that that one has failed to receive the love of the truth. The New Testament is the recorded teaching of the Spirit guided apostles. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth. John 16:13, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth." Did the Holy Spirit perform that which Christ promised he would do? He promised that the apostles by the Holy Spirit would be guided into all the truth. Certainly Christ's promise was true and that came to pass which he promised. The apostles were guided into all the truth. The New Testament is the record of this complete truth. There is no truth, necessary to men's salvation, which the Spirit failed to reveal and the apostles to speak and record. But all the truth that is by the Holy Spirit revealed to the apostles and by them spoken and recorded is essential. No part can be rejected save at the peril of the soul. Those who receive not the love of the truth will be sent a working of error. This will be their reward for receiving not the love of the truth. Friend, in love, I urge you to love the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The apostles speaking truth in love said, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38.) But it is not enough for you that they spoke truth in love, you must receive this truth in love. Do you love it? If you persist in your hatred of it God will send you a working of error that you should believe a lie; that you along with all others who have pleasure in unrighteousness, may be judged. As Christ said to Saul, "It is hard to kick against the goad." Any time any one kicks against the truth, he is going to be hurt. The truth must be preached. It must be preached in love. The truth must be received, it must be received in love.

The truth, not in part but in whole, must be preached in love. In Acts 16:31-34 we have the truth recorded in the inspired record. When the jailor asked the question, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?", the inspired apostle said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house." Now, my friends, that is the truth. You must receive it in love but you cannot receive the love of the truth unless you are willing to get the rest of the truth recorded here. Why not receive the next three verses of truth in love? Well, we will just read on and get the whole truth on this matter. We will find out what was involved in believing on the Lord Jesus. "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house and they spake the word of the Lord unto him, with all that were in his house and he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes: and was baptized he and all his immediately. And he brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God." There, my friends, is the truth. Not mutilated but in whole. Will you receive the love of the truth?

Love like everything good has been abused by some teaching error and feigning love. Peter writes to brethren 1 Peter 1:22, "Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently." Here the apostle states that these had purified their souls in their obedience to the truth and that this purification of soul wrought or brought about by their obedience to the truth was unto unfeigned love of the brethren. They are then exhorted to continue in that unfeigned love--to love one another from the heart fervently. Unfeigned love then is fervent love from the heart. Love that is not from the heart is feigned. It is pretended. Thus the apostle shows that love can be feigned or pretended. This is done when one assumes the garb of love, while failing to love from the heart. Teachers of error assume the garb of love. Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves." Also 2 Peter 2:3, "And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingereth not and their destruction slumbereth not." The truth must be preached in love, but kind words, smooth and fair speech are not necessarily a badge of truth. Paul described those who caused division and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine in these words. Romans 16:18, "For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the' innocent." These and other passages teach that some of the marks of love can be assumed — that love can be feigned. The truth must be preached in love but you be sure that it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth before you accept it, regardless of the sheepskin camouflage or the smooth and fair vocabulary.

Truth cannot be preached without antagonizing error and sin. No one can preach the truth in love and leave them alone. To illustrate this point, if I preach the truth recorded in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 "Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators nor idolators nor adulterers, nor effeminates, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God." Does anyone think that the drunkard and those who contribute to his drunkenness are going to be let alone? Love for the drunkard and the souls of those young boys and girls who are prospects for the exploitation of those who would make them drunkards and for the souls of those exploiters will cause us to preach this appalling truth, that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. If those who fall into the above classification feel let alone after I have spoken this truth then the speaking of it is vain. The truth is preached to affect people, to change them, to turn them from darkness to light — from the power of Satan unto God.