Vol.XV No.VII Pg.6
September 1978

You Judge The Merit

Robert F. Turner

We receive lots of mail with comments or questions that we consider unsuited for full page treatment. We answer some privately; others accumulate — awaiting a day like this, when you may judge the merit of each.

For example:

"If a "Christian" willfully sins, has he been "overtaken" in a fault? Are the spiritual obligated to restore such an one?" I believe "willful" has been misunderstood. Heb. 10: 26 concerns a rejection of Christ (Cf. v.28-29), not a single act. The truly "spiritual" will work to save all who can be touched by gospel truth. Regarding "disembodied righteous spirits" or the "state of the dead" — I did not comment because stirring arguments over this is fruitless. We have our hands full teaching folk to prepare for death and judgment, and however God wishes to care for our spirits between the two will be O.K.

"How can we appeal to one who has no regard for the Scriptures?" Brother, you may not realize it, but you are talking about the overwhelming majority of the world's population. Your life: the joy, hope, confidence, purity, and completeness of it; must testify to the desirability of Christianity, and cause unbelievers to become interested in its source. Give this one extra thought. (Matt. 5:13-f)

"Why do some brethren offer prayer at the taking up of collection?" Maybe they think this makes our giving more "an act of worship." I do not concur with such thinking. Maybe they think this a good time to thank God for the material blessings we have received. That has some merit. Maybe they think this will cause brethren to give more freely. If so, it is a form of coercion I deplore. Personally, I do not favor the practice.

"Should a Christian own a part of J. C. Penney's where they sell shorts and swim suits?" If that bothers your conscience, sell out. I do not believe stock in a reasonably legitimate business makes the holder responsible for the use that may be made of products sold. Government bonds (in a sense, all paper money) represents "stock" in a government that engages in things unbecoming to a saint.

"Should men of a church stand in the back of the auditorium, counting attendance, while others are singing and praying?" When such numbers are considered desirable and useful in promoting church work, the operation should be done at a time and in a way least disturbing to more important things. Perhaps they should ask the querist to suggest a better time and way to get the operation done.

"Discuss 'prayer and fasting' as it applies to brethren today." Saints in Antioch fasted and prayed in preparation for sending forth Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:3); who, in turn, prayed with fasting at the appointment of elders (14:23). Paul apparently fasted often, although some of this may have been of necessity (Cf. 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27). We do not see this as a "church ordinance" but as "time off" from daily affairs, to meditate and prepare for more dedicated spiritual service (Cf. 1 Cor. 7:5 K.J.).