Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 9, 1956
NUMBER 14, PAGE 1,9b

Christian Unity: Recapitulation (XII.)

David Lipscomb

We find this teaching (that only matters of faith and not matters of opinion shall be permitted) is in full accord with the word of God. From the beginning the constant warning was:

"You shall not do whatsoever is right in your own eyes." "What things soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Again, "If a prophet shall speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him, or shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die." (Deut. 18:20.)

To speak something, to teach something as service to God or to introduce or maintain something as service to God, that God has not commanded, is placed upon an equality and condemned as equally sinful with speaking in the name of other gods. This is idolatry, as heinous an offense as can be committed against God. He who commanded a thing to be done, as service to God, that God had not commanded, sinned a sin unto death.

All the examples of God's dealings with man, under the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, point unerringly to the truth that every act of service, introduced by human wisdom, was regarded as sin and was condemned by God and punished directly, or the practice was condemned and left to work the ruin of those following the judgment of men.

In Eden, Eve acted on her own opinion, instead of being led by God, and shipwrecked the world. Cain thought the first fruits of the soil a suitable offering, but God rejected both him and his offering, and he became a murderer and a vagabond.

Abel followed the law of God without interposing his own opinion and though slain, yet he lives and speaks in warning to the people of all ages, and of all kindred and countries, warning them, that it is salvation to turn from and reject human opinions and to walk in God's appointments, even though it brings death. Even when man's inventions bring present prosperity and triumph, it still is ruin, sure and eternal, to use them in religious service.

Cain and Abel plainly teach that an humble walk in God's ways, free from the introduction of man's opinions, even though it brings death, is infinitely preferable tofollowing the opinion of men, though it brings present success and gives earthly power.

Abraham followed God, "not knowing whither he went," exercising no opinion of his own, and God blessed him as "the friend of God" and the "father of the faithful." Abraham did act on his own opinion sometimes, but the act always met with the punishment of God, and brought evil upon him and his family after him. Such was his descent into Egypt, and the denial of his wife.

The Israelites, when the judges appointed by God "took bribes and perverted judgment," asked for a king as they thought it would be better for them. They did not intend to reject God, but added what, in their opinions, would be best for them. And if best for God's people, best for God's honor. They superceded the appointments of God with an order based on the opinions or judgment of men. But God testified: "They have rejected me that I should not rule over them." And through Hosea he testified, in this, "thou hast destroyed thyself."

Saul twice interposed his opinion in carrying out the commands of God. 1 Samuel 13:8, "The Israelites were gathered together for battle." Saul tarried seven days waiting for Samuel to come and offer the sacrifices. He delayed and the army was becoming demoralized — and deserting him, and Saul said, bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

"As soon as he made an end of offering the burnt offering, 'Samuel came . . . . and said to Saul, thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel, forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue, the Lord has sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord."

Here zeal of God in a way not commanded by God, is rejection of the commandments of the Lord, and shows he whose zeal so leads him, is not after the Lord's own heart.

Again, Saul was sent to destroy the Amalekites. The command was, "slay all, man and beast, old and young." Spare none. Saul thought it would more promote the honor of God to carry the fatlings back to Israel and sacrifice them to God. The motive in acting on this opinion, was to bring honor to God. Yet he said to him "because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected thee from being king."

To act on our opinions in serving the Lord, even for the purpose of honoring God, is to reject his word. It is a sin so grievous as to result in God's rejecting him who does it.

David, at the suggestion of Saul, attempted to go to battle in Saul's armor. God did not permit him to use it. David said:

"Thou comest to me with a sword and a spear and a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord God, whose armies, thou hast defied .... and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with the sword and spear" — not with the inventions of men.

There was more strength in the sling and stones of God's approval, than in the armor and sword of Saul. "And David smote the Philistine and slew him, and there was no sword in the hand of David."

Elijah, the prophet, commanded Naaman, the leper, to dip himself seven times in the river Jordan and he would be healed — he thought the waters of Abana and Pharpar better than all the waters of Judea and in this opinion turned away in a rage. But it was only when he turned from his opinion, ceased to act upon it, and "dipped himself in Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God, that his flesh came again as the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." We might furnish many examples from the Old Testament, of man's interjecting his opinions into the service of God. In every one the service was vitiated, and rejected by God.

'In the New Testament, Christ begins by purging out all the additions of man. He condemned the traditions of men, the practices based on human opinion as nullifying the commands of God, and teaches that so simple a matter as the washing of the hands before eating, as a religious service, resting on human opinions, is a sin, that those who introduce or practice the things resting on human opinion, do not serve from the heart, and the practice itself vitiates the whole service of God, and must Abe rooted up because not planted by God. Those who introduce and those who practice things resting on human opinion, "are blind leaders of the blind, both of which shall fall into the ditch."

Every institution and organism of earth, save those ordained by God, rests on the opinion of men and will be engulfed in the destroying vortex of ruin.

"If any man defile the temple of God," by building therein the wood, hay, stubble, based on man's opinion, "him will God destroy."

This disposition to introduce into the service of God things based on human opinion or judgment, has been the besetting sin of humanity from the beginning. It has been the fatal rock on which man has wrecked his faith and forfeited the favor of God. It is yet. Men become infidels 'by starting out to introduce their opinions into the service of God. It is done first with a view of adding interest and efficacy to that service. They are gradually trained to rely more and more upon their own opinions and wisdom, and less and less upon the instruction and wisdom of God, until they erect their own judgment and opinions into the standard of right, and whatever in the word of God, does not conform with this standard of their own, they reject. Whenever men reject the word of God or any part of it, they are, in all essential elements, infidels, as much so as those who reject the whole Bible. When a man tests the Bible and its truth or any part of it, by his own judgment or opinion of what is right, instead of these by that, he has rejected it as the word of God, and the rule of faith for man. This is the essence of rationalism; and rationalism is infidelity. The adoption of societies, organs, pastors and festivals or any and every practice based on man's judgment, into the service of God, is a school that leads and trains the mind to rely upon human judgment in religious service and finally to substitute it for the word of God. It thus tends to infidelity. In this school, of expediency, of adopting aids and helps or orders and institutions in religious service based on human judgment, persons take their first lessons that often land them in a rejection of the Bible as the word of God. The man who substitutes the things approved by "sanctified common sense," for the approved appointments of God, will super-cede the revelation of God with inspired genius. This is the tendency all do not follow to the end. We think nothing pertaining to humanity more certain than this.

The besetting sin of the human family has been, and is, the disposition to rely upon our own judgment in serving God and to substitute human judgment for the word of God, and the practices based on human judgment and opinion, for the ways approved by God. The Holy Spirit, in Hebrews, admonishes, by the great cloud of witnesses referred to, to lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset. The disposition to follow what seems to us good, rather than the commands of God, is the besetting sin to be laid aside. Then, in addition to many other scriptures teaching the sinfulness of introducing practices based on the opinions of men, into the service of God, the Bible closes with the warning, "If any man shall add unto the things written in this book, God shall add upon him the plagues that are written in this book."

Then, not only the end and aim of the reformation by the Campbells, but more and higher, the aim of God in all his dealings with man, in all ages and dispensations, have been to train men to accept his law, as the rule of his life, free from the opinions, judgments and traditions of men, and that he should worship and serve 'God in his own institutions and ways, excluding all devices and inventions of men.' (To be concluded.)